Marcus has his hands full…Ed is Depressed, Myra has anger management issues, Lily has lost her brother, the Army have set a curfew, the church defenses need bolstering, Alan…well lets not talk about Alan…oh and did we mention the Zombie Horde at the gate? Welcome to the State of Decay, an open world Zombie nightmare pitting your survival skills against a world in the throws of chaos, and a game that has become the surprise hit of 2013.

State of Decay opens on the initial protagonist Marcus whom, with his wise cracking friend Ed, has just returned from a wilderness fishing trip only to find the Ranger Station they started from has been overrun by blood crazed zombies. So far … so standard.

After dealing with a set of “starter” quests around this area you begin to feel like … well … like you’ve been here before. The graphics are so so, the zombies predictable and this story has been told a thousand times before. But its when you hit this wall of apathy that we urge you to persevere, because STATE OF DECAY is a hugely rewarding game.

The first thing that will hit you on leaving the Ranger Station; apart from the zombie stuck to the grill of your car - is the sheer scale of the open world. Considering this is an Xbox Live Arcade Game we were hugely impressed with the size and detail of map. From eerily deserted farmhouses to the remnants of a roadside café. Everywhere is open to exploration and it’s this simple gameplay device, which makes State of Decay so compelling.

On establishing the trust of likeminded survivors, it is your role to find and secure medicine, food, ammunition and building materials to maintain your newly founded community. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But it’s this element of exploration, tinged with horror and anticipation that makes State of Decay such an engaging experience. You are never quite sure what or who is behind every door. It could be fellow survivors, some in dire need of rescuing, others who just want to be left alone. You could strike lucky and find an ammo stash to replenish your community’s arsenal, or it could be a 300-pound bloater who wants to eat your brains!

 

Once you have found your supplies you then have to decide how you are going to transport the goods back to your base, whether or not to call for a “runner” to help you with the stash or to hold up for the night and fortify your position until its safe to emerge. All the while you need to keep your wits about you. There is a variety of zombies to contend with that have infested the Map, each with their strengths and weaknesses.

Armored Zees, the remnants of a long dead Swat Team, are lumbering but hard to kill behind their riot armor. Feral’s are blistering fast and savage and of course the Bloaters are … well fat! You will soon learn to avoid contact with the Zombies as much as possible. Death is around every corner and permanent in State of Decay. Zombies, attracted by noise and sight, will swarm and before you know it you’re lunch to a horde and your community is down one defender!  This coupled with degradable weapons, fatigue and disorientation means you have to be seriously confident  - or unhinged - to go blustering through any location!

If you do manage to get back to your base with supplies you can start to improve your defences, send out messages to other survivors and improve the moral of your team. Your ability to lead this rag tagged group is based on your influence rating which goes up and down depending on your deeds and of course the zombies are not the only thing you need to look out for. The Map is swarming with looters, bandits and rival communities … all vying for the dwindling supplies.

State of Decay is a surprisingly immersive game. You’ll have to overlook the pedestrian tutorial and shonky graphics; but if you do - you will be rewarded with one of the most exciting and terrifying zombie titles on the market…

  • Developer: Undead Labs
    Publisher: Microsoft Studio
    Release Date: 5/6/13