State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition
Original Release Date: May 22, 2018
Studio: Undead labs
Genre(s): Survival, Action, Horror
With the current global pandemic at hand, it seems only appropriate that we start with a game about surviving a massive zombie outbreak. State of Decay 2 is the second installment in the zombie game series developed by Undead Labs that puts a more immersive spin on zombie survival.
Originally, I was prepared for a traditional zombie game, such as “Dead Rising” or “Left for Dead”, that boiled down to another game of getting from point A to point B while killing or avoiding as many zombies as possible to progress in the campaign. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when I learned that this game didn’t play like any apocalyptic game I had played before.
Instead of finding maintenance rooms to duct tape nails to bats or trying to sneak to avoid startling the witch, this game’s angle is that it’s not a zombie shoot-em-up at all—it’s a pure survival game. In both State of Decay titles, you are dropped into a random county that is undergoing a zombie pandemic through which you have to survive. In order to do so, you must scavenge for weapons, food, medical supplies, and more in order to stay alive while eventually building your own community.
One of the strongest aspects of the game is the player’s ability to choose. The game forces the player to make tough decisions that could mean the difference between life and death. For example, a player must decide how many people to try and save when more survivors are extremely useful but come at a cost and an increased risk—more necessary supplies, more noise from the camp to alert the undead, disagreements between different survivors in the group, etc. These factors are often the difference between helping someone when you hear a distress call on your radio, or leaving them be consumed by the large hoard of zombies laying siege on their camp.
The people in State of Decay can be either a resource or a hinderance, and there are more folks than the ones in your community. Along the way, you can run into other groups that will open up new trade avenues and provide you with unique services. The caveat, however, is that they will often ask you to perform tasks and go on supply runs for them, making you weigh the trade-offs of whether their services are worth your precious time and supplies. Some groups will immediately be hostile and you can go on missions to “take them out of the picture”.
The game also has a permadeath feature, so if your survivor that you are playing with dies, they are gone forever (with no hope of loading a previous save). This means that when you save other survivors and add them to your camp you can play as them and utilize their strengths to survive. For example, the main character you start out with may be very efficient at fighting off the undead hordes, but you may find a survivor who is better at scavenging for supplies. Bringing the wrong survivor on the wrong mission could result in you losing them forever, so the stakes in the game are more immersive than sending you back to a previous checkpoint. State of Decay forces you to play smart when surviving the apocalypse, or you may end up having to loot the supplies from the walking corpse of one of your old allies.
While the game is fun, it does fall short in a number of areas. One example of this would likely be the game physics and art style. Overall, for a dark game that seems like it wants to be realistic and immersive, State of Decay handles like it should be a more “cartoon-y” type game. The driving mechanics of the game are absolutely wild and ridiculously unrealistic (not to mention how easy it is to get your vehicle glitched and stuck in locations) and combat can be clunky and seem like constant button-mashing. The special zombies in the game also feel very unoriginal, with each ‘freak’ zombie in State of Decay practically being a re-skin of a ‘special infected’ from Left 4 Dead.
The aspect that provides the most replay-ability for the game is the introduction of multiplayer mode in the game. While there are dozens of zombie games, and a handful of them allow online play, only State of Decay can help you answer the age-old question “who amongst your friends would you trust the most in an apocalypse”. The sandbox format that State of Decay has lends itself perfectly to online play and adds a whole different dimension to the game.
Overall, State of Decay takes an unoriginal concept and provides an original perspective, as well as providing a refreshing alternative style for the genre. State of Decay may have its flaws, but no game is perfect. It may have some bugs but I believe it is well worth downloading and playing if you haven’t already. If you are looking for a game where you can dive deep into a campaign and story, this game may not be the one for you. But for those looking for a fun sandbox game about surviving by yourself or online with friends in a zombie apocalypse, State of Decay may be a great way to spend your quarantine.