State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition is the newly released and remastered version of State of Decay coupled with both DLC packs, Lifeline and Breakdown. If you haven’t played State of Decay or you manage to miss it completely, here’s quick refresher!
State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition (hereafter referred to as just SoD) plays as a third person, open world, community-building social simulation, stealth-based, zombie-survival horror/fantasy role-playing video game and no I’m not kidding it really is all of those things. First announced back in 2011, the Xbox exclusive title was finally released in June 2013 for the Xbox 360, developed by Undead Labs, the project was spearheaded by Jeff Strain, co-creator of World of Warcraft.
As I said at the start the Year One Survival Edition comes with the two DLC packs, Breakdown and Lifeline, I haven’t had the chance to fully explore both just yet seeing as how expansive the main body of the game is but do expect a review on both of these as a follow-up!
Allow me to let gameplay/story aside for a moment because there is something a little more prominent to discuss first, as the remastered version SoD on Xbox One is frighteningly beautifully, I mean that! I watched as my controlled character was excruciatingly torn in half and while I winced at every squelch. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. What stood for me most was the lighting and the colours/tones in this game – typically end of the world/Zombie horror games go for dark tones, the contrast of fresh red blood splashed against the cold gray-washed out walls of your makeshift shelter.
SoD goes in the opposite direction, the world won’t stop turning and the sun won’t stop shining just because the population is eating itself and they capture that. Playing the main game, you start off in a picturesque woodland (as picturesque as any forested area can be when infested with the Undead), bright red, orange tones, the sun bouncing off the lake and the fresh carcasses of Zombies are dotted across a plush landscape – it’s beautiful and horrifying at the same time and just wait until nightfall!
SoD as open world games go, is gigantic! You can choose to live here, exploring and surviving or you can attempt to progress through a story that brings with it world-changing events. The key here is to obviously do both – explore, gather and survive and you’ll find other survivors who are willing to join you. Progress through the story with proper shelter and adequate planning, you’ll have a community willing to defend your makeshift home against the horrors of the Zombies.
You’ll begin the game as a character called Marcus Campbell but as you progress you’ll be able to swap between characters each with distinct characteristics and advantages for tackling the zombie-infested world.
Year One Survival Edition doesn’t do much to revamp the gameplay aside from a few added moves/combat mechanics because if the rule of ‘if ain’t broke don’t fix it’ applies heavily. You play SoD how you want to – whether you prefer to traverse terrain sprinting or ducking and diving between blind spots, foraging in every last abandoned lot or just targeting the big drops like supermarkets and clinics , the game offers you the chance to apply your own plan and style… and they’re not so forgiving if you haven’t planned well. As you explore your surroundings and neighbouring areas, you’ll spend stamina, the longer you’re out and the more you carry, the less you’ll have, meaning you’ll not be as capable of defending yourself should the need rise.
The game is smart and you’ll have to play smart if you want to actually survive it and I love that.
My first outing I opted to set out and find a ‘Feral’ zombie (there are different types of Zombies each posing various levels of threat) on the map (more on the menu systems below, spoilers it’s a little too much!) and I set out with my gun, hatcher, some rations and painkillers, I drove most of the way before realizing the sound of the car was attracting more zombies than I’d have liked – the car got abandoned about two-thirds of the way into my journey.
Now on foot I decided it best to avoid confrontations, sprinting open spaces and hiding in thick bush to catch my breath – I was fine, this was going fine! I’d only had a quick bite to eat to replenish my energy levels when I stumbled into the path of a horde. Now being relentlessly pursued I spied a house atop a hill and I bolted for it, hoping I could outrun the snarling teeth behind me – I dashed in the front door making too much noise and alerting anything not quite dead in the house that I was here! I scrambled upstairs, emptying my gun into everything in front of me while swinging wildly at everything behind me.
I was trapped and this tiny house, atop of a lonely hill would become my grave.
If I was to pick anything out of the game that I didn’t like? The menu system! There’s an awful lot happening and all of it happens at your fingertips in the game – whether you want to check your map, tell other survivors to scavenge, scout or construct new buildings or you just want to check the status of your equipment or your own progress, it’s all there on your mobile. All of which would be great if it wasn’t just so crammed in – splitting the menus up, only allowing you to do a limited amount (i.e. you can only upgrade your shelter when you’re visiting it) might have helped declutter a very busy menu.
Everything you think you know about surviving a zombie apocalypse is tested here, going it lone wolf works for scouting but when you encounter a horde you’ll wish you had your entire pack with you! This isn’t just about you though, you’ve a camp and shelter to think about, people depending on you to bring back food and materials to aid in your group’s survival.
We’ve become obsessed, gluttonous with the Undead, TV shows, games, comics and movies, while it’s nothing new, in recent times it’s become what over-sawith the idea of
So what exactly does this all say about State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition? It’s simple! This is a must have for any fan of the Zombie genre! If you own an Xbox one and you don’t own State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition then you’re missing out!
Gory, smart, beautiful! Just how I like it! 9/10
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!