While calling the XBOX One and PC release of State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition a simple re-release would be a disservice, all its best efforts and good intentions still leave The Year One Survival Edition a rather hastily wrapped undead gift box for both new and returning players alike.
Included in the Year One Survival Edition is a 1080p facelift with improved textures, shadowing and lighting, both the ‘Breakdown’ and ‘Lifeline’ DLC and an assortment of in-game content and features like knife weapons, new unlockable characters, weapon add-ons and a built-in DVR to capture your most harrowing moments. Returning console players can also upgrade to the XBOX One version for 33% off and will have the option to import past saves from the original release on XBOX 360.
Survival games, especially ones with zombie motifs are becoming a staple in new release announcements, State of Decay‘s take on the end of days has always been a departure from the norm. Built heavily on mechanics borrowed from resource management, social simulation and stealth games.
The story fueling your purpose in State of Decay is simple. You are one of the scattered survivors left stranded in a post apocalyptic world. Your new job? Scavenging, building, organizing and networking. All for the sake of survival. You’ll have to find allies, find a safe spot to call home, risk life and limb to gather and maintain stores of supplies and sometimes make difficult moral decisions.
Managing the collection and use of supplies and resources (human or otherwise) is integral to keeping the collective happiness, morale and energy of your group in the green. Thanks to the game’s dynamic system, if someone goes hungry or without rest for too long, their mood changes, causing their performance during missions to suffer or rifts between them and other characters to form. This type of mismanagement can lead to all sorts of uncomfortable turn of events. From leaving a follower behind to become zombie chow, or turning someone out of your stronghold, these decisions ultimately affect your game in one way or another.
There is a distinct lack of effective hack and slash combat in State of Decay. You and your weapons are not fit to fight hordes of zombies without facing the consequences, making you rethink the a-typical approach to zombie games. Sneaking, choosing your battles and knowing defeat as it chases you wildly down the street are all important to keep on keepin’ on in the world of the living.
While the ideas behind the mechanics of State of Decay are stellar and the re-release’s content and bonuses much appreciated, the technical issues that hampered the experience of the original release still remain. Less than graceful controls make combat feel clunky and unresponsive at times. The clipping of items and enemies is distracting and watching a zombie amble, half in and half out of a building can break immersion quite effectively. Long load times when booting up a save or switching between characters also acts to hinder the overall experience rather than help it.
Returning survivors may be disappointed with the issues that persist, but the core gameplay and the convenience of having so much content (new and old) in one place is still appealing. State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition is not a terrible game at it’s core, nor is it a terrible re-release. It simply needs more polishing (and patching) to showcase its interesting and change-of-pace mechanics instead of being outshined by its flaws.
State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition is available now on XBOX One and PC for $29.99 USD.