Zombie Survival 101: State Of Decay Review

If you’ve ever wanted to experience what it’s like to be in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, Undead Labs’ State of Decay injects you right into the middle of it. Me being a huge zombie fan could not say no to another zombie game. But is it just another generic zombie shoot ’em up? Not even close! This game differs from every other Zom-game such as Left 4 Dead, Dead Island and even Dead Rising by putting you into an open world as the survivor. It brings relevancy into the played-out zombie game theme. This game is your story affected by your decisions while literally struggling to survive day by day. Supplies are few, survivors need help and infestations can sometimes get wild.

Story & Concept

State of Decay is that open-world zombie survival game that you have been waiting for. While you will receive that satisfaction for running over zombies in your vehicle, you are living out what you would do in real life if this became a thing. The story begins with Markus, your average guy on a camping trip with two other friends. Markus and friends happen to be outside hunting when the apocalypse occurred. Upon the unwanted approach from another “camper” trying to eat out their brains, the trip started to take for the worst as the world starts to crumble. From there you meet up with another survivor, who leads you to a gated church community as you then are left to start to face the reality and rise to the occasion. This game puts you straight into the game where your decisions take a toll on everyone. Not only are you playing as one character, but you are able to play with all able-bodied characters available. While this is a game, many things are taken into account such as how your stamina, health, tiredness and such other pointers.


The freedom of exploring, looting and inappropriate zombie bashing is right in your hands. State of Decay is based highly on personal player action while you set out to maintain defenses, keep your community under control and build good morale. On your quest for survival, there’s a never-ending slew of dilemmas both at home base and in the outside world. Whether your group is complaining about not having enough supplies, bickering with each other, or mourning a fallen ally, it’s relevant that you need to consider the needs of your community, unless you want them to turn on you. The bold decision-making is left in your hands. There are two major factors in this game: Main Missions and Community Satisfaction. Scavenging takes a large role in this game while somebody’s got to get the supplies, and hopefully make it back home.

  • Scavenging – You’re able to roam the world and use lookout towers to scope out homes, businesses and supply stores to mark on your map to check out for loot. Creep on out to nearby homes and take EVERYTHING! All movement while roaming around will attract attention to yourself. Driving is noisy and nearby zombies will flock to you. Running through grass creates shuffling that alerts zombies. Even searching through a closet in a locked home can alert the horde. Use your gun wisely as the blast can bring a zombie party your way and they will come uninvited. You have the option to search quietly (and slower) or risk making a lot of noise to speed up the process. Realistically, backpacks fill up and you’ll need to either call for other scavengers to help bring home the load, or run it back to base yourself.
  • Home Base – This is your own, almost safe haven. Home base is where you stock up on supplies, make upgrades and switch out with others in your group when you need a break. As you play through the game, more survivors will join your group if approved. Eventually you’ll need to move on to bigger and better homes as your community grows. Each new location has its pros and cons. You could live out on a desolated farm protected from zombie hordes, but risk being stranded by foot if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. A nice town-home at the end of the block may be a more valuable option for the explorer that needs to loot nearby for resources. You have your pick from 13 different housing options. Facilities in home can also be created, but there’s limited space to work with. Building a kitchen helps fight the stamina issues amongst the group. A sleeping quarters is handy for your survivors to gain rest, and upgrading a lookout tower will keep your safe zone alert and protected.
  • Stats – It’s crucial in this game to make sure your stats are in good shape. Rule # 1 in Zombieland: Cardio. If you don’t have good cardio, how are you even going to outrun the zombies? When you run around swinging melee weapons around, your stamina depletes. While it’s recharged over time, having good cardio to begin with prevents this. Each character has RPG-like stats that you can level up by doing things to meet the requirements. Need more gun experience, shoot zombies more. Running out of breath every few steps? Climb up on that treadmill for some good cardio! Everything you do is rewarding. You can even level up your wit skill to help you search for hidden treasures more quickly.
  • Combat – Fighting in State of Decay is well… fighting. Controls are pretty basic and you have two different ways to go about combat: Stealth and Brute Force. Playing stealthy allows players to quietly sneak around. This helps with creeping up on lone zombies and then swiftly executing them with your LB and Y button to take them out undetected. I couldn’t handle this with my patience level so I had to go the Brute force route! Grab those weapons, stomp around and get some bloody head-shots. Hand-to-hand combat with the Zeds is pretty brutal but it gets the job done quickly. Once a zombie is downed, you can tap your Y button to deliver a finishing blow. Some of the final moves are pretty sick and I do mean sick. Almost too much, but yet, it is the reanimated we’re talking about here. Combat does feel clunky at times and there’s no specific lock on, but who cares when you’re having that much fun.
  • Supplies and Weapons– Supplies are needed just as much as it is to keep outrunning the Zeds. Looting around town for them can fill up your backpack pretty quickly. Items vary from weapons, notes left behind, medicine, and the occasional piece of junk. Your home base really needs to be kept fully stocked on basic needs such as food, medicine, ammo, construction materials for home, and more. Daily portions of all of these are used, so keep a good eye on what you need to gather on supply runs. The game simulates real-time, so when your console is off, you’re community still lives on. Weapons are crucial to survival and will break over time. While they can’t really be repaired unless a workshop has been built, they will last for a good while. Make sure everyone in your group has a couple of weapons on them and healing items.
  • Survivors – Some are friendly, others are not so trustworthy. It’s not necessary to take on more survivors than needed but this will build a stronger army for your defense. From exploring, you’ll get tired and need to switch out to another friendly survivor in your group to keep yourself from exhaustion. This makes the game unique by being able to switch between allies which all have their own different stats and personalities. Treat survivors in your group with care and they’ll do you good. Send them out on supply missions alone and see if they return back. Sometimes they may not and need you to come to the rescue. Allies and your main character can end up dying if you become overrun. (happened to me 4 times, so don’t fret) If you die, it’s literally game over for that character and your community will be affected by the lost of their friend. It’s important to keep a good morale in your home community to be able to use good weapons and help with the load. Situations may occur where an ally falls sick, and we all know what that means in an apocalypse. (Grab that gun) Everyone looks to a leader in that situation, so don’t be a jerk.

What I Didn’t Like

This game isn’t perfect. I’ve run into a glitch that kept me from progressing in a side mission. I’ve seen zombies float through walls and hump the concrete.  A.I. can jump in the way of your Molotov every once in a while. The frame rate loads textures slowly sometimes, especially the landscape while driving. There is some uninspired dialogue which gets annoying after hearing the same 2 voices after supply runs. The couple of issues the game needs to improve on are just minor little things. While scavenging for supplies, once you find a stack of materials, your rucksack is completely filled. The only way to drop the supplies off is to head all the way back to home base (not your outlooks) to dump off the supplies. While realistic, this is an annoyance. There are pickup trucks in the game that should be used to carry and transport multiple bags. All State of Decay fans would LOVE this option. Clearing the streets sometimes would be much easier if you had the option to bring an ally along with you, but the game only allows this with few random missions. The use of multiple survivors would be greatly appreciated. It’s a small hassle that can easily be fixed.


State of Decay not only satisfies players with the destruction of the zombies, but gives them a sense of heroism. You aren’t just living out a pre-planned story, you’re creating and determining your own fate. Missions expire sometimes, allies may die and some get saved. This is all up to the player’s choice. You have your community to protect and build up. You can be a leader or an outlaw. The open world is immense and there’s always something to in this game. The initial fear that happens once nighttime approaches and the fear of running into those scarier zombies always creates a fun factor. The choices and outcome of what happens in the game will certainly test you. State of Decay brings a unique spin to the classic survival story we’re most used to. The game has its minor bugs and somewhat clunky combat, but yet it’s still SO enjoyable and addicting to play making it a most favorite zombie survival game to date! It had been a part of my top games of last year and I can’t wait to see what Undead Labs will bring to us gamers in the future! It placed a spot on IGN’s top 100 games of this generation for a reason!

You can start playing State of Decay right now on Xbox Live Arcade and PC. You can continue the survival adventure with both DLC in Breakdown and soon releasing and announced at PAX 2014, Lifeline coming soon next month! For more information, head on over to Undead Lab’s main site.

Played for over 64 hours

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