Feb 28, 2014

State of Decay

For all that I play a lot of video games, at heart I am a tabletop gamer. Video games are wonderful things but nothing can compare to the freedom a pen-n-paper roleplaying game offers the player. My creation of ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE was in some part a reaction to how limited video-games were; I wanted a zombie-game that was as fast-paced as video-game but still let the player do whatever mad thing he could could imagine. But had a game like State of Decay existed ten years ago, I probably never would have bothered. If ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE existed in video-game form, it might well be State of Decay.

This game features a huge world to explore. Admittedly, it pales when compared to the scale and diversity of a tabletop game, but it nails all the basics: empty farmlands, small towns, forests. The goal is - as ever - to take on the role of a survivor amidst hordes of undead. Everything must be scavenged, from weapons and ammo, to food, medicine and building supplies. You locate other survivors, gain their trust through good deeds, and get them to join your ever-growing party. But the odds are against you, and fights against the undead are better avoided; both the health and stamina of your on-screen avatar are limited, and making too much noise just attracts more walkers to your vicinity. Fortunately, while it is easy to die in this game, death is not a  show-stopper; so long as you have any other suvivors in your band, you just jump to the next party member when your current hero inevitably gets torn apart by the zeds.

In fairness, the game still has a number of rough spots that mar the overall experience. The controls are stiff and often unresponsive, and more than once I was -frustratingly -  fighting the camera at the same time I was trying to hold off the undead. And for all its freedom, the game is still quite limited; there is only a handful of different types of undead, and many of the missions are repeated throughout the game. It is also a single-player only game, so if you want to share your on-screen experience with your friends they need to be watching over your shoulder as you play. So State of Decay is not quite ready to replace table-top games quite yet.

But it's oh so close, and definitely worth a look by zombie gaming fans.

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