It's Night. You are on a mission to get some more supplies for your group before they start walking out. The supplies are way across the map but if you don't go you risk losing group members. So you head out in the small sedan you found, it's no truck but you figure it will do. You decide to take a short cut through some of the farmland as it seems pretty quite there and you don't feel like going the long way.Speeding a long you are half way there when your car goes over a hump launching it into the air. Your heart stops as you watch the small sedan flip over forcing you to crawl out of the car. You are now in the middle of an open filed with only a crowbar at your disposal. You turn and run when you notice there is a horde approaching. no where to hide you decide to fight through it. No biggie just a bunch of mindless zeds. however with each swing your energy drops you are heavy for air as they surround you. You remember you had a petrol bomb so you use the last of your energy to sprint just far enough to launch the bomb and engulf he horde in a blaze of fire. Relieved to have survived the horde you turn around holding your sides as you are still trying to catch your breath. Then all of a sudden you hear a loud growl. You look around and don't see any thing but you know something is coming. You were right something is coming and now it is right on top of you. clawing away draining that health bar. As you struggle to get up. lower and lower the bar drops until with one swift pull you are torn in half.
This is why State of Decay is not just another zombie game. The danger is real and it can come from anywhere usually when you are the least prepared. A routine supply run can turn into a desperate struggle to keep the character you have been leveling up alive. The zombies are a legitimate threat and not just punching bags or targets for you to practice shooting.
SOD breathes some fresh air into the genre by creating an open world zombie game that respects the zombies. The game is not easy and anyone who thinks they can just charge through a horde of zombies will find themselves ripped to shreds in no time.
I won't really go into the storyline too much here as it's beter if you just experience it for yourself.Basically you start out as Marcus who has just returned from a fishing trip only to find the world has gone to $#!T. Along with his friend Ed and eventually another survivor maya, the three get a radio message from a girl named lily who then instructs them on how make their way to a church housing other survivors. This is where the game really starts as you are now in charge of keeping this group safe. I will say that the story is for the most part engaging and does give you a reason to keep pushing forward, however the main reason you will want to play this game is the gameplay.
Where SOD shines is the gameplay. It creates a world in which your actions do in fact impact the group and will effect how quickly or slowly you progress along in the story.This game is very deep and has a ton of factors that can effect your personal experience with the game. Each member of your group has certain skills and attributes which can then be built upon and leveled up.
The basic attributes consist of:
Cardio:determines characters energy
Fighting:determines how effective melle combat is
These can all be leveled up the more you use each skill. One you reach level 7 you can choose to specialize in the respective skill.
There are also individual personality traits. EX: activity/hobbies effect the base stats of a character. While personality traits effect how the characters interact at home. EX: a person who has the selfish asshole trait will cause for problems at home effecting morale. Additional traits effect how quickly a character can level up a certain skill. EX: eagle eye bumps up shooting stats faster, dim bulb makes wit raise slower. Finally there are also personal traits that can only be accessed if the character meets the right criteria and has other matching traits. EX:some are useful Bruiser,construction counseling, while others such as sexting and sports trivia serve little use.
There are numerous combinations and it is important to keep these traits in mind when leveling up your group members and trying to create a cohesive community.
Moving on to the actual mechanics
SOD's melee control's feel great. Bashing zombies over the head never gets old as the game offers you a lot of variety in terms of weapons, there are an assorted amount of attacks and finishes and each weapon has it's own strengths and weakness. The other cool thing about the weapons is they can in fact break, so it's always a good idea to keep a back up just incase.
Shooting doesn't feel as good but it is adequate, which is fine since you won't fin yourself using your gun to often as unless you have a suppressor equipped shooting of your gun will just bring more zeds to your area.
Energy and health are both extremely important. Although energy does gradually recover if you use to much the max amount will slowly drop. This can lead to some hairy situations if you find yourself short on energy in the midst of a zombie ambush. Energy can be restored by eating food/energy drinks/coffee. Health can be restored by popping pills(some with addictive qualities) and later on you will come across some special skills that can regenerate health such as rage which regenerates a little for each kill.
Cars are littered around the open world and you'll want to refrain from driving to recklessly as the controls and physics regarding these vehicles can be a bit touchy making it quite easy to flip your vehicle. These vehicles can be a god send and effective zed killers especially if you happen to come across a modern pick up truck. Cars do take damage and will eventually catch fie and explode if you drive into too many walls or Big Un's.
supplies are collected through looting and survivors are gained through completing side missions and the story. the more side missons you do the more trust you build with neighbors until eventually they decide to join up with you . Collecting supplies is important as the more people you have the more supplies are needed.Also it should be noted that supplies are used even after you shut of the game and shutting your game off when morale is low can be devastating as things will only get worse. Typically the worst damage is done in the first couple days you don't play and the loss of supplies gradually lessens with each day you don't play. So even though it does dort of punish you for not playing it reduces the penalty over time. Don't let this discourage you though as it is typically most annoying only at the beginning. as you get progressively stronger and upgrade your facilities, insure morale is high and have cars at your base you should come back to a happy camp.Personally I think this features keeps players from becoming too over powered and I don't take much issue with it.
You can relocate your home base to around 7 different bases. which one you pick is completely up to you. each has pros and cons and each gives you the option to choose what to build and upgrade in your home. The better your facilities the less you have to worry about making constant supply runs or waking up to low morale because items were used up.
Death is permanent
SOD is very unforgiving in the way that the death of characters works.A dead character is gone forever along with all stats. the only thing that does remain is the backpack and supplies they were carrying which can be retrieved.
Now lets talk Zombies or Zeds as the game calls em.There are 5 types for you to bash:
-Your typical Zed's are the shambling type of zombies whom move moderately fast when provoked.They are pretty harmless on their own but hordes can be deadly if you aren't prepared.
-Screamers are probably the most annoying of the bunch. These armless zed's are typically found in infestation sites and let of an obnoxious shriek when they see you that brings more zed's on to the scene.
-Juggernauts are big fat bastards you will charge when provoked in an attempt to grab you and rip you apart. They can take a lot of damage and early on it's best not to engage them if you are alone.
-bloaters are the easiest to kill as they explode with a single shot, however they also let of a poisonous gas
-lastly the one everybody hates the Ferals. These zed's remind me of the cougars in red dead redemption as you may never see them coming and by the time you do it may be too late. These guys will pin you to the ground forcing you to desperately try to break free before your health bar is drained.
While a little more variety would have been nice overall they still help keep the game interesting.
The game also has lots of side missions to accompany the main story. Ranging from rescuing other survivors, clearing out infestations,defusing issues at home, hunting special zombies and more. Also although not specifically missions looting houses and finding new materials medicine and ammo is crucial to the game.
SOD is a lot of game for an XBLA game and it is a must have for any fan of the genere. SOD manages to create a world in which players are free to survive on their own terms. While story and missions exist how and you complete them is completely up to the player. Creating a successful thriving homebase is extremely gratifying because it does in fact take some time and effort. While there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to understanding and implementing all the build/upgrade and character skill it is never frustrating. The game also stays interesting even after you have leveled up a character because you can always switch to another and go with a whole new weapons strategy and level up to gain a completely different specialization. The permanent death feature may seem harsh but it really enhances the game by raising the stakes by giving the player nothing to fall back on forcing them to think twice before doing something potentially risky. It makes the zombies more of a threat and which in turn leads to a more exhilarating game.State of Decay is worth every penny and is a great game for the summer.