State of Decay (PC)

A very fun but glitchy open world/Grand Theft Auto clone that is perhaps a bit too short. It could definitely do with some polish and shows its console roots. Still it is ridiculously fun when everything pops off well and perma-death really does give you a sense of danger.

You start in a painfully limited intro area which eases the idea of weapon decay, stealth, partners in combat and even some rudiments of base modifications. A lot of the game rewards you looking through menus and investigating its mechanics as the game will do damn near little in the way of explaining it for you. Combo melee moves? No idea until I started poking through my character’s stat screens. Let alone that I could invest in specializing in a melee or ranged weapon. (Can’t do both). This is my not so subtle segue into the limited RPG evolution which is to say your character has stats from 1-7 in the usual suspects o’ Running (uses up will), Will itself (stamina bar), Melee Combat, Ranged Combat, sometimes Powerhouse (I assume strength) and sometimes reflexes (refills your stamina bar faster).

There is perma-death lurking for characters which definitely curbs my desire to wade into a zombie horde and fucking tear it up. It also encourages taking out other characters to improve their abilities as the game takes off chunks of your will (stamina) and health (if damaged critically) which need time to regen. This can be mitigated with certain healing items or a pep talk over the radio from characters you unlock. Still, those have a cool down and really it behooves you to have many characters specc’ed out differently.

Speaking of radio, you often get random radio transmissions from characters in your base that need saving or the random special zombie that pops up. This builds up your in game currency, credibility, which is use your base to draw out items need as well as build new facilities in your base. As for bases themselves, there are maybe 7-8 locations in the game you can choose from. The perks of a better base is more room to build shit. Parking spots are fixtures of these new bases as are a smattering of pre-built facilities, which often need to be repaired to use, but everything else needs to be constructed and chosen by the player. These include but are not limited to: beds for new survivors to increase your max population, med tents to heal wounded at base quicker and prevent the chance for a random infection among your survivors, a library to unlock specific crafting and other facilities, green houses to mitigate the need to raid for food, supply stash to increase your ability to horde (food, medical supplies, building supplies and ammo), and guard towers which are actually manned by survivors. These in all in turn need building supplies you need to hunt for (generic resource). Often times during the build cycle you’ll be radio’d in with need to hunt for some generic specific item, such as metal roofing which means just another fetch quest.

There are also non-player character bases you can trade with, help and occasionally have story missions associated with.

Cars are ridiculously a powerful zombie killing tool which is mitigated by the fact that unless you have a shop at your base, (which repairs them over a game day) their damage will lead to their eventual destruction. Also there are a limited, but crucial resource.

As for zombies? They can clump into hordes, sometimes infest houses, along with having a handful of ‘special’ breeds such as the ‘Big Boy’ which is a giant bullet sponge that charges, the ‘Feral’ which is the agile 28 days later zombie on crack, the ‘Swat’ which is really just a bullet resistant zombie, the ‘Bloater’ which explodes in poison gas, and the ‘screamer’ which draws any zombies in on your locale.

The expansion they have looks to do away with the story, which is fairly godawful, to allow you choose your own bases from the outset, build up and recruit survivors to escape and do it all over again in with less resources in a more difficult scenario rinse, lather, repeat.

I bought it when it was 7.99 and might suggest waiting till it is on sale, but damn did I have a fun time until I felt I’d seen all there was.

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Cannibal Dave