Secure The Compound
Zombies games are a dime a dozen in recent years, but how many of them let you have a truly Walking Dead or Romero-esque experience of actually experiencing the day-to-day struggle for survival in a zombie apocalypse? State of Decay, which came out in 2013 for the Xbox 360, is one of the few games that put just as much emphasis on scavenging and security as it did on fighting zombies, and now it’s back on its younger, more powerful brother, the Xbox One.
Fight Smart, Scavenge Smarter
Even though it doesn’t say so anywhere in the title, this is basically one of those HD+ remasters we’ve been seeing so much from the last generation to this one. The original State of Decay was a surprisingly original and playable title from a small studio headed by ex-Blizzard refugees, and it managed to garner a decent following for itself with its emphasis more on survival than action. As Marcus Campbell, an athletic store clerk out on a camping trip, players run head on into a classic “something-something of the Dead” zombie apocalypse, straight out of a George Romero film. It’s a third person survival horror, but if you were expecting Resident Evil, or Dead Rising, you’re in for a surprise. It’s not about killing zombies, so much as it is forging alliances, securing supplies, and reinforcing compounds in order to endure the zombie apocalypse on a daily basis. In other words, it really is more about the survival than the horror.
As you might expect from a remaster, State of Decay has gotten an upgrade to the world of 1080p. It hasn’t gotten a similar bump in framerate, but the open world nature of the game pretty much killed any chances of 60 frames per second. Players need to keep in mind that this wasn’t a big AAA title with a huge budget. Despite its use of CryEngine 3 for its graphics, this isn’t a looker of a game; manpower and budgetary limitations are evident throughout. So even though the graphics are crisper and the draw distances are better, this doesn’t fix the limited animations, frequent clipping of enemies through walls, or the unpolished voice acting and stilted cut scenes. Those are all still in place, the same as in the original Xbox 360 version.
Thankfully, what’s also retained is the survivalist atmosphere of the original game, as well as all the DLC that came out subsequent to the game’s release. This is never going to be a good looking game compared to the likes of Halo, but the commitment to a survival game where main characters can die, and the game keeps going, is a testament to the originality of the title. The only real issue plaguing this game might be one of audience. While the remaster of the The Last of Us makes sense, since so many Xbox 360-only users never got a chance to play that PS3 hit, it’s doubtful that there are many PS3-only users now coming to the Xbox One who missed the opportunity to play this stark, original game. Most of the Xbox One users probably were Xbox 360 users, and thus, if they had any interest in this game, already played it religiously during its first release. There might be a few new Xbox One owners here and there that still haven’t played this game—and if they haven’t, they absolutely should—but it doesn’t feel like that “new immigrant audience” opportunity exists here in the same way it does for new PS4 owners.
That aside, State of Decay is still, without a doubt, one of the better zombie games available today. Despite not having all the polish and AAA bells and whistles of a big budget title, it has an original concept, a lot of depth, and a genuine tension evoked by its “no one is ever safe,” atmosphere. If, somehow, you love zombie games, own an Xbox One, but never played this game, buy it, and don’t be put off by the budget presentation. It’s got it where it counts.