Published on May 15th, 2015 | by Don Parsons0
State of Decay: Year One Edition Review
Summary: Should be called "Get Lost Exploring, Raiding Houses, Surviving the Apocalypse, and Killing Zombies Edition".
The mission seemed simple: head into a hilly region and find some materials for my community of survivors. A day prior, I ignored this request because I had to find food and medical supplies. But this other survivor needed my help, and I was in a charitable mood. I gathered a few more rounds for my 9mm pistol, swapped my worn baseball bat for a fresh tire iron, and headed out with my partner. The journey wasn’t far, but it was night time. Normally, I wasn’t afraid to run around and make noise, but I was tired and really didn’t want to fight many zombies if I didn’t have to. I snuck past a zombie horde, and starting to head towards the cliffs I needed to climb up. Suddenly, the horde heard the moans of two zombies hanging around the cliffs as I approached them. My partner and I slaughtered many zombies, but at some point we became overrun. She died first, leaving the remaining zombies to swarm me and finally kill me.
This was my first death in State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition on Xbox One. State of Decay originally released a year or so ago on PC and Xbox 360. Like many people, I don’t play games on PC (or Xbox 360 for that matter) so I missed out on this gem. YOSE is bundled with the main game and both downloadable packs, Lifeline and Breakdown.
The main game starts the player out in the wilderness with a buddy as the zombie apocalypse happens. The beauty of State of Decay is readily apparent. There is a story, sure, but there’s also a house full of survivors you have to tend to, both healing with resources and mending their attitudes. And if you are like me and enjoy exploring, you can spend hours upon hours just exploring the local neighborhoods around your main base of operations.
At any given time, a plethora of missions is available to partake in. Some involve you calming down residents, others clearing out infestations of zombies. I felt less inclined to help neighbors over time, as my own clan had enough going on, but helping fellow groups can be a good source of morale, reputation points, and possibly good exchanges or trades.
Wear and tear is one of my favorite aspects of this game. The more you use a weapon, the more it wears down, and eventually breaks. This is nothing innovative about this, as several games has featured this sort of mechanic, but it fits nicely into the “oh my god, I’m in the middle of nowhere and my weapon just broke, why won’t these zombies stop attacking me?!” scenario.
Since carrying space is limited, you can’t just port around a bunch of supplies, especially if you are on a supply run. However, dumping extra stuff into a truck or SUV and driving from house to house to scavenge what you can is a great way to make up for the small backpack allowance.
My opening scenario was a possible controller-throwing one. I had spend a good few hours playing carefully, shaping up my community, and then I died. I slowly set the controller down as it loaded, but when it started me back as a new character, I sighed with relief and resumed playing. I died several more times; sometimes, I deserved it for getting cocky and other times, I deserved it because I fumbled. And every time I did die, morale would drop both in the game and with me. Eventually, I started over from the beginning and now I’m doing much better.
I have only gotten to scratch the surface of Breakdown and Lifeline since I am so enamored with the regular game. Breakdown is more of a sandbox than the main game. It has less of a story and tests the player’s ability to adapt and survive. Once I finish the main campaign, I can actually see enjoying this. I did sample it for an hour or so and it was very much the main campaign without worrying about the story bits.
Lifeline, on the other hand, was a difficult adventure for the bit of time I had with it. Even though I was military personnel, and had access to a lot of weapons and ammo, the number of zombies was extremely high. But the city was different, which, if you spend dozens of hours playing the other two modes,makes this expansion a great change of pace. Towards the end of my play time in this downloadable pack I was introduced to a major game mechanic: my base was under siege. So I had to stand in the middle of my mini-fort and fend off a few waves of zombies.
Zombie survival games are sparse on console, especially games that try to play as an actual survival game and not just a mock-horror game. There’s a lot to manage, between supplies, story progression, and keeping your people content, plus dealing with random hordes and infestations. The game would benefit from a co-op mode, so a friend could help you scavange, but, maybe next time. State of Decay: Year One Edition is a welcome title on Xbox One, and fills a gaping hole on the game shelf.
This review was written with review code played on the Xbox One and provided by the publisher. For more on our review policies, read here.