State of Decay

7.0 Overall Score

Survival Tension | Learning Game Mechanics is Satisfying

Minimal Tutorial | Extremely Glitchy

Written by on June 14, 2013 in [, , ]

Video games featuring zombies have become a dime a dozen sort of deal. The market is oversaturated with them. With a few notable exceptions, namely the PC release of Day Z, few have really been able to stick out amongst the crowd. Now, Microsoft ad Undead Labs have gotten in on the market in a fairly big way with State of Decay, an open world zombie game with an emphasis on survival.

State of Decay opens with your character coming back from a trip in the wilderness to find that society has collapsed due to a zombie outbreak. You join with a group of survivors and begin the arduous task of trying to just stay alive in this post-apocalyptic waste land. Along the way, you’ll be able to meet up with other survivors, gather resources and build up your own commune.


State of Decay can take a long time to figure out. Once you complete the brief tutorial area, you’re given little to no clue of exactly what you’re supposed to do. In fact, it will likely take you hours to get into a rhythm with the game. Once you do, though, you’ll find an extremely satisfying, yet often brutally difficult game.

The core of State of Decay is built upon going into the open world and gathering various resources from the abandoned houses and stores. There are building materials you can use to upgrade your base, medical supplies to help heal your wounded, food for your survivors to eat and ammo to keep your team able to defend themselves. However, the game gives such little explanation to these mechanics that you’ll have to figure out exactly how they work. It may take you hours to understand that, for example, you can send out “runners” to various locations to gather resources for you, or that you have a limit on how much supplies you can bring back with you.


As you complete tasks for various survivors, you’ll gain “influence” which can be used for multiple things. The most basic is the ability to buy things like medical supplies and weapons. You can also use this to upgrade your base.

Player progression similar to what you find in most role-playing games is core to the game, as well. As you perform various tasks, like running or fighting off zombies, your skill set will improve. This gives you more powerful attacks, more stamina or more health. The major problem, though, is that all of this progression can be lost because of the game’s “perma-death” system.

Perma-death means that if one of your characters dies while fighting off the hordes of zombies, they’re gone forever. If you’re killed, you’ll switch to one of the other survivors in your crew and you’ll have to go recover their supplies from their dead bodies. In many ways, it’s similar to the “corpse runs” from the Dark Souls. For players who get frustrated seeing most of their hard work gone because of one misstep, this feature may turn them off.


In fact, the perma-death can create some of the tensest moments of the game. You can be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no health items, nearly dead and being chased by a horde. Running for your life can be extremely exhilarating when you’re not sure of what to do.

The survival aspect of State of Decay, however, becomes less and less of a problem as you progress. Once you’ve lost one character, you’ll learn exactly what you need to do to avoid or kill most of a horde of zombies. While early on, using guns will attract zombies en masse, there are plenty of times where you can fire to your heart’s content, with little to no zombies coming after you. Even if they do, all you’ll have to do is get in to one of the many cars and run over them all. Once you learn the little tricks of State of Decay, the game becomes fairly easy.


The plot of the game never becomes more than somewhat superficial. All of the characters are fairly uninteresting and the voice acting comes off as mostly flat. In fact, the game might be better if there were no plot whatsoever. The main reason the plot seems to exist is for when one of your survivors becomes sick and you’re confronted with the choice to kill them or not. Because they are so uninteresting, there’s almost no excuse whatsoever to not take them out.

In fact, the most horrifying part of State of Decay is how downright broke the game is at this point. You could be driving down the road, only to have a car spawn inside of your car. Zombies can appear randomly. If you’re being attacked by a horde, they might get stuck on a corner and not be able to do anything. At every play through, you are almost guaranteed to encounter some form of glitch that can nearly ruin your experience.


Truthfully, this might be the biggest thing that holds State of Decay back from greatness. The game itself is fairly unique, especially amongst consoles and, despite the fact that you can easily learn ways to avoid death, there can be a few moments of true tension. However, the various glitches can ruin any given run. It’s not the zombie plague that kills you in State of Decay; it’s the bugs.

A review code for State of Decay was provided to The Married Gamers for review.


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Author: Addam Kearney View all posts by

3 Comments on "State of Decay"

  1. Gustavo Ramirez June 14, 2013 at 11:27 am - Reply

    ‘State of Render Delay’, am I right?? Anyone….

    • Addam Kearney June 14, 2013 at 2:57 pm - Reply

  2. Michael Crowe June 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    I think the worst part of this game is that it seems like it was made for multiplayer coop. Yet even though they stated while dev the game they really wanted to add they didnt get it in there. I hope they are able to add it via patch and that it would work then this game would be a must have for me.

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