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Saturday, Sep 18, 2021
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State of Decay: First Look

There are many things that you miss when you are married and have kids.  Most movies that aren’t family fare are pushed aside. TV shows and movies that are aimed at adults can only be watched when the kids aren’t around (i.e.: out with friends, at school, or in bed.)  Whatever time you have left is for video games.  Because of this, I have to be extremely selective in picking video games.  I have to choose a game I can play with the kids around, or something I can play after everyone has gone to bed, when I’m finally alone. Through this selection process, I can miss games.

I really missed a good one.

Listening to some old podcasts, I stumbled across a few that were singing the praises of State of Decay. The more I heard, the more I wanted to check it out.  Somehow this game had completely flown under my radar without catching the slightest bit of my attention.

For that, I have to apologize.  Almost exactly a year after its release, I’ve discovered it.

So how is it?

In an opening that pays homage to the best of the zombie movies. The game drops you right in the middle things, almost literally. After pressing start, the game fades in on you and a friend being attacked by zombies on a riverbank.  It then tells you to survive.

That’s it.

Nothing else.

You have no idea what’s going on, or where the zombies come from.

All you have on you is a backpack, with very few supplies, and a stick that you use as a weapon.

The basic story is you and a friend went away on a three week fishing trip.  While you were gone, the zombie apocalypse happened.

You had no idea.

Now that you are back, you have to find other survivors, search for supplies, and fight off roving zombies.

How does it fare graphically?

One important thing to keep in mind is that this is an offering that you will find on XBLA.  So for $20, you get a very ambitious adventure that will give many AAA titles a run for their money.  For an independent game, the graphics are quite good. There are some glitches, such as zombies getting stuck in the geometry of the landscape, but that can be expected.

The fighting mechanic is pretty basic.  You can attack and defend, each with its own dedicated button.  What sets this apart from many games is what happens to you when you lose a fight.  You DO NOT want to lose a fight. If your character dies, that is it for him (or her).

No game over screen.

No continues.

And don’t even think about reloading your game, because the second you die, the game saves its progress. The character that you have been playing as and leveling up is gone.

Oh, did I mention that this is an RPG? We’ll get back to that in a minute.

If, or when your character dies, the game just continues on.  You are given another member of your community to play as.  Because of this, you want to find as many survivors as you can in your travels.  Think of them as lives. The more people you find, the more opportunities you have to continue on after you die.

As you gain influence and friends, you have the ability to switch players if your main character gets tired.  So don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  If you lose a player, you have to start the level up process all over again with a new person.

As I mentioned before, this is an RPG. You building a strong leader of the community that you’re a part of.  Each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as traits that need to be leveled up. These things will come handy as you discover supplies and zombie hordes.  If you are alone and discover a large cache of supplies, you can radio your camp and they will send out someone who will walk, in real time, to help pack up the supplies and carry them back to your camp.

If you have a party with you and run into trouble, your partners will fight by your side defeat it or escape.

What about the zombies?

There is a debate going on among zombie fans over what types of zombies are more plausible: George Romero’s shambling corpses or Zack Snyder’s running predators. This game doesn’t really help either argument, because you get both.  Some will slowly shuffle their way toward you, while others will charge at you at top speed, climbing fences, or following you into a building.

One on one, they’re actually not much of a problem.  But the second you are outnumbered, you are in serious trouble.

Keep that in mind.

I highly recommend that you check out this game.  That goes for those of us who are just looking for a good game to play, and for those who are suffering withdrawal between seasons of The Walking Dead.

You can find State of Decay on XBLA for your Xbox 360, as well as on Steam.  It’s only $20, so you have no excuse to not check  it out.

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