State of Decay joins the ever-expanding list of last-gen remakes, and while it sold well and met respectable scores across the board, it never quite seemed to get the following it deserved due to various bugs which were sadly still present with the two DLC packs.
With the ‘Year One Survival Edition’ *YOSE* we have the original State of Decay, beside both the Breakdown and Lifeline DLC all in one package and Undead Labs seem to have done a fantastic job of making sure it’s a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Firstly the premise of the game is to survive. You begin as Marcus, and with your friend Ed by your side, you quickly realise things have gone a little wrong and the quiet townsfolk have gone a little Suarez and developed a taste for human flesh.
After beating away a couple of these psychopaths, you work your way to the ranger’s station where there’s a selection of survivors. This works as an introduction of sorts and you’re soon guided through the basics such as scouting locations and collecting materials and stocks while avoiding confrontation through stealth.
It’s worth taking your time through this because there’s a lot to take in and it really helps further down the line especially scouting areas, so you know what you’re heading to and if there’s a horde of zombies just around the corner.
Soon enough you work your way to the church and your first true base of operations. You’ll have met various survivors by now, and you can bring up your menu to see what they’re carrying as well as control them, or ask them to follow you as backup for a mission ahead.
There’s plenty of chatter with the people you meet and most have pretty distinct personalities that you’ll love or hate. Characters are involved in the pre-set story missions for a short amount of time, but when they’ve played their part, you’ll soon realise that State of Decay deploys the same system that XCOM: Enemy Unknown did which is simple…
There are no respawns, no miracles, and no checkpoints, If you spend hours building up the RPG like stats of a character, but bite off more than you can chew, the Zombies will quite happily chew it for you, leaving you controlling another member of your acquired survivors and little more than a memory of your former hero.
This is the start of an incredibly dynamic eco system, which controls much of the game and is present for the entirity of YOSE. Because of the chance of losing a character for good, you’ll naturally want to locate and help as many survivors as possible, doing tasks for them to put them in a good mood. However back at base, you need to ensure you have enough beds to cater for your new friends, and on top of that enough food.
If people aren’t happy you’ll lose influence over them and they’re less likely to help you on tasks. Without help you’re certain to fail or worse still die, which helps with the bed problem, but means you’ll lose another of your strongest characters.
This is where the quest for survival really starts to impress. There’s genuine fear when you’re surrounded by Zombies, all alone knowing one more bite and you’ll be a kebab, because the hard work is about to go down the throat of a zombie.
As you go through the game, you’ll also have to scavenge buildings as well as create new safe-houses, all while maintaining who is where, how much food and supplies you have and whether you can afford to take back that lady screaming for help, or if it would be better to let her screams distract the Zombies breathing down your neck while you search the local store for some more painkillers. It’s a system that never gets old, and even with repeated playthroughs feels like a whole new challenge.
Then there are your disgruntled neighbours, who present a whole new problem, and then the army which start to show their face as the story progresses. The only downside has to be, when the story is complete, even with zombies to kill and places to search, it all ends. Which takes us nicely to the first DLC.
The Breakdown DLC originally released 6 months after the original game.
Breakdown sets about giving the fans much of what they asked for from SOD, mostly the chance to do something after you’ve completed the main campaign.
Breakdown sees you starting in the Trumbill County map, with no story distractions, You instead have to find a safe house, find fellow survivors and search for and repair a vehicle to escape the town. This endless quest then takes you to a new (identical) town, which gives you more zombies to slaughter and harder tasks finding the required supplies. If you get through that, rest assured there’s another identical tougher town and another, and another.
Finally is the Lifeline DLC. Released a full year after the original game, Lifeline sees you controlling Greyhound 1, a team sent by the army to rescue key personal in the hope of obtaining a cure.
With each person you rescue, they’ll have to reside at your base for a day while you wait for them to be evacuated, however there’s a regular siege by surrounding zombies on your base, and these can easily take the life of the VIP you worked so hard to rescue, or even the character who is still nursing injuries from the same mission.
Again Lifeline gives alot of responsibility and you’ll have to work hard to lead and care for your gathering.
So we know what’s in the game, so let’s move on to how it actually plays and unlike the Xbox 360 versions, the Xbox One seems very polished. From all the hours I’ve played, I haven’t witnessed a single critical bug (and anyone who played the 360 version, will know there was plenty of those before).
Graphically it’s an obvious step up from the last generation, it runs smooth and there’s the expected 1080p to boot, but some textures do feel a little last-gen, and you certainly don’t get the layer of polish we saw in titles like Metro Redux or Tomb Raider.
My personal biggest qualm is the animations. Having barely touched an Xbox 360 for the last year, I’ve become accustomed to the quality of next generation titles, and while it’s not been as necessary on full retail releases that have received a overhaul, sadly the animations of State of Decay aren’t up to scratch in my book. If you swing a bat at a Zombie, you can swing it 5 times, and each looks stiff and too similar.
Move along and change to a crowbar and it’s the same swing, could even be the same zombie for all intents and purposes. There’s just not enough variation in the animations, however considering the amount of bugs which seem to have been ironed out giving a smooth and fairly good-looking game, I soon forgot about the repetitive animations, and jumped in a truck, because running over a horde of zombies, flicking your door to smash a few stragglers never gets old.
The sound is another area which could have received a little more attention, however considering the work that would have been required to re-sample everything, it’s little surprise they chose to stick with the sometime shoddy voice acting.
The last few paragraphs probably sound a little negative, but as a complete package, State of Decay : YOSE really shows that pin point sound and graphics aren’t the be all and end all.
On top of the expected aesthetic overhall, there’s also new challenges and Achievements, as well as game DVR which will automatically record clips such as your favorite survivor getting mauled by zombies. Knives, vehicles, weapon add-ons and new music join a selection of extra new characters meaning there’s more than meets the eye, especially as you progress.
Above all YOSE is a fantastic dynamic free roaming game, which not only makes you care about those you’re rescuing, but let’s you look after them. It’s still cold enough to rip them from your grasp and leave them in a pool of blood with the only positive being a bed for another survivor in the self-managed building you’ve carefully crafted to try to please your community of survivors.
With a little look at the value and longevity of the title, this is the area which makes State of Decay really stand out. You should easily find yourself busy for 10-15 hours with the main campaign and at least 5-6 with Lifeline.
The Breakdown DLC gives you the open world to continue playing, which will likely last another 7-8 hours before it starts to feel too familiar to continue, but for £19.99 you could easily be occupied for over 25 hours.
Best of all, there’s still further replay value. Playing through any of the three stories again, and who you save, what you do and how you manage your community can make it feel like a whole new experience.
Finally, returning people who purchased State of Decay on Xbox 360, will get a discount of 33% bringing it down to less than £14. For returning fans, it’s even better value, and if you missed out first time round, there’s even more reason to get your hands on State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition.