State of Decay Review

State of Decay is an immersive and suspenseful open-world zombie adventure that shouldn't be missed.

by

State of Decay certainly doesn't waste any time. Mere seconds past the Start screen, it throws you headlong into a zombie apocalypse in full bloom. Tree branch in hand, you clobber the shambling corpses attempting to munch on your screaming camping buddy, and then seek out the few remaining survivors while scrounging for supplies, weapons, and ever-safer home bases. That's just the first 20 minutes, but the core of State of Decay's gameplay never changes as you make your way through its open world and battle an endless cast of zombies. State of Decay finds its soul in the dreary repetition of apocalyptic survival.

You'll probably do more running than fighting. Make sure your cardio's up.

State of Decay's open world manages a substantial degree of immersion, complete with an expansive and occasionally intimidating map and the ability to drive cars freely across the landscape. The cars handle poorly, but the ability to use them to mow down roving zombie swarms offers a malicious satisfaction. Yet this isn't some zombie free-for-all; far from it. In developer Undead Labs' impressive first effort, melee weapons break with frightening ease, ammo runs out quickly, silencers break in the midst of careful attempts at stealth sniping, and even vehicles run out of gas unless refueled. There's a heavy dose of "the real" here, and the game is better for it.

You thus quickly learn to fight zombies only if you absolutely have to in State of Decay, and therein lies much of its appeal. This is not a game about Bruce Campbell badassing about in Evil Dead; it's a celebration of the normal person and all of his or her associated weaknesses. Some of the characters you come across (and can befriend and thus control, if you perform enough tasks for them) have no combat experience at all; they're cooks and gaming buffs, and only through taking them out in the world against the undead hordes can you max out their stats in areas like cardio and shooting to their full seven levels.

This might look cool, but this guy probably got a good zombie chomping two seconds later.

Some befriend you easily; others are outright hostile in their worry that bringing in another mouth to feed only weakens your group's strength. Still, there's enough variety among them to warrant answering almost every cry for help you encounter either through your home base's radio or while roving the land. Ignore a plea, and you'll never know if you missed out on finding a world-class zombie killer or even someone who's just witty enough to keep the morale of your home base up.

Just don't get too attached. Death is permanent in State of Decay, which means that even characters with fully voiced storylines and unique dialogue die forever if you let them get overrun. From there, you can only continue through the eyes of another character you've befriended. Because death is permanent, you spend much of the game not in combat but in the more suspenseful act of slinking through bushes on foot. Indeed, every action carries with it the threat of fatal zombie attraction, such as choosing to ram your way through a locked door or even speeding up your usually slow searches through cabinets and bags with a click of the left bumper.

Few things add more tension to State of Decay than the terrifying noise guns make, because a single foolish shot can bring an unmanageable horde upon you. And if your character doesn't have the cardio to outrun them? You'll watch helplessly as the zombies rip his legs from his torso. Unfortunately, considering that there are a host of bugs in State of Decay that make zombies pop up out of nowhere or even send them straight through walls, it's possible that will happen anyway despite your most careful efforts.

Hasn't anyone ever told these people that riding in the bed of a pickup truck is extremely dangerous?

Permanent death is a smart addition, though, since losing characters with high skills across the board carries with it a real sense of loss, particularly if their voice quests and customized responses in some quests led you to believe they were an essential (and thus effectively immortal) character. Sometimes they don't even have to die in the field; if a character you've been controlling sustains enough injuries--a few undead chomps don't result in instant zombification in State of Decay--he'll lie bedridden and useless at your home base. The good news is that the need to rest and switch out characters results in you amassing a balanced group of playable characters anyway; the bad news is that the process isn't explained very well, as with so many of State of Decay's essential systems.

You're never told, for instance, that the supplies you place in your home base's storage to earn reputation (essentially State of Decay's currency) may vanish forever, especially if you log out and return to play several hours later. That's right--the world of State of Decay keeps going even if you're not in it. You're never told about the importance of items like coffee, and you're never warned that prolonged absence from the game can leave the morale of your home base so low that key non-player characters start committing suicide out of despair. For the most part, State of Decay maintains the harrowing lack of direction of its first few minutes throughout the entire game, and that lack of hand-holding means that you'll likely lose more characters than you anticipated as you play.

It's also strange that a game that places such a heavy emphasis on interpersonal relationships should have no cooperative mode. You spend your time with State of Decay alone, joining up with other NPCs only for specialized quests and escort missions that bring other survivors back to your current base camp. It's especially odd since State of Decay starts out with a party of two, suggesting that you'll always have a buddy at your side if need be. While the decision undeniably adds tension to the act of exploration, such solo forays seem foolish considering the circumstances, and the experience may have been better if Undead Labs had let you choose whether or not you wanted a friendly NPC with you as you explored rather than forcing you to go without.

Daytime is scary enough in State of Decay. Night is downright terrifying.

State of Decay serves up a near constant barrage of suspense and immersion that leaves even the briefest jaunts away from your home base tinged with the threat of death. Fair warning: it ends too abruptly with an all-too-obvious nod toward downloadable content or a sequel (perhaps, rumors say, in massively multiplayer online role-playing game form), but an option to return to your latest save file ensures that you can continue foraging for as long as you like. And you should. Its flaws are numerous and impossible to ignore, but in spite of them, State of Decay is a captivating survival adventure set in a bleak and harrowing world.

The Good
Breakable weapons keep the focus on stealth
Permadeath for characters ensures that you're careful about taking risks
Heavy doses of suspense in a large, immersive open world
Convincing stat-driven survival system
Welcome focus on interpersonal relationships
The Bad
Many glitches mar the overall experience
Some key concepts are poorly explained
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for State of Decay

About the Author

/ Staff

Leif Johnson (pronounced "Layf") is a freelance writer whose works have appeared on GameSpot, IGN, PC Gamer, Official Xbox Magazine, GameTrailers, and a host of other publications. He still considers GameSpot a "home" of sorts, though, as he got his foot in the door through GameSpot's blogging platform. He lives on a ranch north of Goliad, Texas..

Discussion

616 comments
at129907
at129907

The management system on state of decay sucks. It's not user friendly at all and there are way to many variables that the player cannot easily  control. This game deserves a four instead of an eight. 

Gaze51
Gaze51

Enough is enough! I've had it with these m'fkin zombies in this m'fkin decade.

Lu_Shen
Lu_Shen

Most insanely addictive game I've played all year by far. I literally cannot stop playing. I almost failed my final exams because of this game. What makes it 10x more addicting is the Breakdown expansion. It is worth every single penny. I can't wait till they reveal the next DLC. If it's anything like the Breakdown DLC... I will have to check into a video game addiction clinic.

nmrndc
nmrndc

the game-play is great  and addictive. you can spent a lot of time playing this. 

please somebody help me! i need good advice on cheating this game o trigger full health. please!

kegan46
kegan46

Anyone who has this game please help me out on maybe some tips on xbox360

My gamer tag is icecreamman420

stev69
stev69

Gets old real fast, and doing the same side missions over and over is so dull id rather go have an unqualified dentist remove all my teeth with a pair of pliers and no anaesthetic. Runs along the lines of joe bloggs is feeling sad today, kk go out beat a few zombies have the same conversation you had when they had the same problem yesterday, rinse and repeat. 

Using firearms is pointless unless you want a horde of zombies that magically appear out of nowhere to jump on you, and when your thirty odd rounds runs out....well you can guess the rest. 

I guess its alright for a budget game but that doesn't really detract from the fact its a proper snoozefest.

666NightsInHell
666NightsInHell

99% of console games suck, here is another prove like castlevania, pc port is unplayable, bad looking, performance is bad, even so bad looking game can be good with good gameplay but with so unplayable controls its impossible. im not masochist to play fps or tps with game pad its only for scrollers, its inaccurate for any other genres, dont waste your time on this ugly console port till its fixed.

1wikkid1
1wikkid1

Sounds a bit like STALKER with zombies... which reminds me, been a while since I visited the Zone. edit: right, just remembered, STALKER has zombies too.

c0mmanderKeen
c0mmanderKeen

Anyone know if coop is in the making? mod, official, anything? should be such a blast !!

seularts
seularts

Finally a good survival game. I played the PC version (Beta - still ok even with all the bugs and creepy controls that I needed to hack manually since the d-pad wasn't mapped for pc keybord). I believe this is the first episode just like walking dead series, but I still think this game can be done so much better. For instance, players could use watches to see how much time is left of the day/night, search for batteries for flashlights, look out for generators to supply light in the home base that could use fuel since cars don't use it o.O The sense of immersion is lacking, still I think this should be implemented with a higher difficulty level. Also the management menu could be made more user friendly and a bit more detailed. I had a hard time understanding what did what since I had a billion tinny pieces to look into and most were not even clear. Overall this gets an 8++ from me. Story line was great, but short and side quest or interactive and not boring like the repetitive survivor quests. If this game gets refurbished by some moders out there, it will be an A+ game of this genre!

superseani2
superseani2

I like the fact that they used the Assassin's Creed engine for a zombie survival. Definitly make a Free world game with multiplayer over 100 players wich you can create you'r own server but all you're informations are keeps in a central server so you can't hack you'r states, add levels, alot of nice skills, skill tree or something. Titles. eventually more GUNS and the fact that you can make your own, designing your own gun could be freaking awshome bigger inventory. kinda of like Diablo, but server side.

Crazed8
Crazed8

You know i haven't played this game but i gotta say i'm sick of zombies now they were fun for a while but now i'm pretty sick of em

Toxidragon199
Toxidragon199

This is what The War Z was supposed to be..

I regret every single cent I spent on The War Z, and that was 2499 cents.

blackzio
blackzio

according to gamespot 

State of Decay = Last of Us. (haven't played them but not sure that's right)

jojothejomaster
jojothejomaster

I don't see how someone could get "zombied out" State of Decay is a fantastic game. I should say people who haven't tried out the game should not criticize the game. Try out the demo, and if you love it or like it BUY IT. That is exactly what I ended up doing and I dont regret it at all. Its a good game, with a few minor bugs. Its like GTA 4 with a little walking dead story to it. :)

dmblum1799
dmblum1799

Good god, I just bought two zombie games (Last of Us, Walking Dead), and here comes another one?

I think I'm getting zombied out. Let's see a hello kitty game.

med12
med12

when will the zombie fad end??

lorider25
lorider25

I'll wait for the massively multiplayer edition

volc-123
volc-123

When this comes out for PC, WarZ abd DayZ are going to be trashed.

zaracyn
zaracyn

I played the demo on xbox 360 and really enjoyed it! I'm even considering buying the game, although I might wait for a few iterations of patches. Honestly, the "bugs" aren't that bad. The tricky parts are knowing what all the controls do and not accidently eating a medkit you might be saving for another survivor. The car handling is a bit tricky too, but one can quickly adjust. Reminds me of a cross between Fallout NV and Walking Dead :) ...although not quite as polished...still it left me wanting more.

B_STATS
B_STATS

What's amazing is the amount of time I waited for this game to be completed and it still released with so many bugs you have to wonder what the devs were actually doing with their time...

normsomers
normsomers

Is there any Reliable place to DL this game for the PC?

grandtheftanto
grandtheftanto

what a game a bit short but this is what the wlaking dead SurvivalInstinct should have been

jknight5422
jknight5422

I hope they don't go the MMO route.  They lack the personal touch and experience that you get from standard games.  MMO games always remind me of a haunted house during Halloween: genericized and boring, catered to a specific audience to run you through a section of map (that everyone else has already been through) and may not be very interesting to individuals.

Nefarious13
Nefarious13

@at129907 Agreed. Plus there is no difficulty option. It's been the biggest complaint on the forums and they basically ignored it.

Akozz888
Akozz888

@superseani2It's not running on AC engine but on CryEngine, same as Crysis :P Hard to believe :p

lilmcnessy
lilmcnessy

@blackzio How I see it is reviews are done with relativite to certain factors such as technology availiable and budget. So indie devs will often get good scores (unless they make a crap game) where big developers have to work harder to get higher scores.

seularts
seularts

@SoulSnare there is a ported version in beta stage for pc, but it is very buggy, but playable with a few tweaks!

adeathnote1
adeathnote1

@jojothejomaster  It got really repetitive for me. Plus the bugs and glitches got old as well. I really like the concept though and it is interesting to play. I just wish they could have had more polish to it

seularts
seularts

@lorider25 sorry that won't be the case for this game, it has too many flaws to make it to the online version, but modders out there could give it a go.

seularts
seularts

@volc-123 Day-Z has a different concept than this game. Basically Day-Z/War-Z are made to simulate a natural environment rather than tactics of survival and management of resources.

SomeGuyInABoat
SomeGuyInABoat

@volc-123 DayZ uses a military simulation engine with realistic ballistics and is solely multiplayer. I don't see how an SP game would 'trash' it.

blackzio
blackzio

@zaracyn fallout nv was a buggy mess at launch (and still is with all the patches, i blew up randomly 2 times in the game for different bugs)

but i get what u're saying, this games seems interesting, it adds up 2 of my favorite things.

i wish microsoft would take a look on those kind of games and make like a big budget state of decay 2. 

i think i'll get this game even with it's glitches

lilmcnessy
lilmcnessy

@B_STATS They only had a small team I'd say around 20 or less of them worked on it. And it was a big project, their team was very small for this being a first time game so they did quite a good job.

SomeGuyInABoat
SomeGuyInABoat

@jknight5422 That's because modern MMOs are basically theme parks. Open world, freeform games like Ultima Online before EA ruined it and EvE Online have a significantly different dynamic.

lilmcnessy
lilmcnessy

@jknight5422 They lack personal experience? The head guy of this was one of the lead programmers of World of Warcraft.

QueerGamersXist
QueerGamersXist

@jknight5422 agreed, but i would seriously love some smaller scale local and online coop-- like the opportunity to share a world with say, 2-4 other groups.

Poodger
Poodger

@jknight5422 I feel that open world single player games tend to feel empty and lifeless without other players. It can go both ways.

blackzio
blackzio

@wavelength121 @blackzio 

if you are avoiding a game because of stupid comments, then i guess you are being the stupid one in the situation. 

mr_nee
mr_nee

@lilmcnessy if it is so, this is ultimately stupid. When someone plays a game he doesn't give a shit how much money is spent on making this game. Hec, it even doesn't matter how much I paid

adeathnote1
adeathnote1

@lilmcnessy @blackzio Really that doesn't make sense to me. A game score should be relative to only one thing, and thats a numerical score that only deals w/ how good that game is to play. It shouldn't skew one way or the other based on resources at the dev's finger tips. And yeah, Last of Us is > State of Decay. Sorry, I own them both and they don't really compare on any level. 

jknight5422
jknight5422

@SomeGuyInABoat @jknight5422 Whatever the case, I won't bother with an MMO version.  I actively avoid them.  If it's not an MMO but some sort of other online type of game, I might like into it.

jknight5422
jknight5422

@Poodger @jknight5422 Talking to others detracts from the game. If you talk by headset, the suspension of disbelief is killed. If you talk by chat, you are having to stop and chat all the time rather than game play.  I prefer to separate chat, talk, and gaming into different entities as opposed to doing all of them at once.  In fact, every time I start chatting in-game, I'm not playing the game, just wasting time chatting.

State of Decay More Info

First Release on Jun 05, 2013
  • PC
  • Xbox 360
State of Decay is a 3rd person action zombie-survival game set in a dynamic open world.
7.9
Average User RatingOut of 560 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Undead Labs
Published by:
Microsoft Game Studios
Genres:
Adventure, Action, 3D, Open-World
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
All Platforms
Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language