Saturday 3 December 2016

State of Decay Year One Survival Edition review: Shambling undead come back to life

Published 12/05/2015 | 12:39

State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition - zombies are dangerous in numbers
State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition - zombies are dangerous in numbers

GODDAMN those zombies, they’re forever coming back to life. Nobody expects the undead to rise again after a full two years. But State of Decay, a thoughtful and engaging post-apocalypse RPG on X360 from 2013, has been resurrected in high(ish) definition for Xbox One and PC.

State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition (XOne/PC); rating: 7.5/10; age: 18+

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Yet apart from rendering the putrefying zombie flesh in slightly better resolution, it’s tough to see where much effort has been expended in those two years on fixing what was at times a comically broken survival-horror.

Granted, this edition bundles two expansion packs with the full original storyline – all for a relatively low price. A string of relatively cosmetic additions – new weapons, vehicles and challenges – aren’t enough to distinguish this Survival Edition from the original, nonetheless.

However, State of Decay’s premise still stands strong, a game of scavenging, foraging and community-building, an endless struggle you can never “win” and made poignant by perma-death. Unlike the zombies, when your character dies, they stay dead – and all your emotional investment and enhanced stats go with their loss. You switch to another survivor and try to continue the good fight.

State of Decay Year One Survival Edition - build a base and defend it
State of Decay Year One Survival Edition - build a base and defend it

But you’re frequently fighting the game’s bugs too, which range from blips in the merely serviceable visuals to alarming, even frightening glitches where zombies clip through the walls of buildings.

No open-world is without flaws but State of Decay seems to want to set some kind of record. There’s something amusing about watching the XOne reduced infrequently to a shambling zombie-like state as the frame rate takes a nose-dive. But the technical problems yank you out of the immersion in what is otherwise a compelling piece of fiction.

State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition - new weapons and characters
State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition - new weapons and characters

Generously, Microsoft grants owners of the immensely popular original SoD a 33pc discount if you want to upgrade to the new edition. It’s even a piece of cake to transfer your old save file from 360 to XOne. Realistically, however, the Survival Edition isn’t worth playing if you already explored State of Decay on the older console.

But as a budget remaster for newcomers, it offers an engaging slant on an overfamiliar genre.

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