Thursday 19 September 2019

State of Decay 2 review: Zombie sequel is in no fit state

State of Decay 2 (XO/PC) ★★★ Age: 18+

State of Decay 2
State of Decay 2
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

The jokes write themselves. Shambling zombies in shambles. Brain-dead survivors fight undead. Civilisation in disarray portrayed by chaotic game.

There was perhaps some excuse for the original State of Decay, a small-scale indie project that got picked up by Microsoft and became a surprise hit. It was littered with game-breaking bugs and unintentionally hilarious glitches - yet proved unusually engaging. There can be little justification for SoD2 arriving five years later in a similarly creaky condition, not when it's had the full backing of Microsoft all along.

But here we are, with a zombie survival game that plays out largely along the same lines - build a base, scavenge for supplies, gather a community and wipe out the walking dead. The differences don't radically alter the set-up. Four-player co-op is all very well but you can't stray far from one another. Zombie nests feel challenging and victories hard-won but there's no overarching sense of progress or narrative objective.

And then there's the bugs. Zombies raining from the sky. Cars launching into the air for no discernible reason. Characters vanishing. Walls appearing from nowhere. It's funny at first but regularly casts a spanner into what is potentially a promising game underneath.

State of Decay 2 has righted some of the wrongs of its predecessor but introduced a host of problems to replace them.

Swords of Ditto

(PS4/PC) ★★★★ Age: 12+

Call it an homage, call it a clone, call it cheeky - but there's no escaping Ditto's similarity to 1991's Zelda classic A Link to the Past. When it's done pilfering from that SNES icon, it pinches another Zelda trope from 2000's Majora's Mask.

Still, it's all done in the best possible style, a bright and spirited RPG with randomised elements. Ditto pits you against a delightful menagerie of beasties while exploring Zelda-esque dungeons. But the steal from Majora introduces a time limit that forces you to hurry along when you should be taking time to admire the craft invested in the adventure. Failure to beat the clock means starting all over again, albeit with most items intact. But it's a punishment that sours the sweet taste of Ditto.

Forgotton Anne

(PS4/XO/PC) ★★★★ Age: 12+

Don't ask me why the makers can't spell Forgotten. It's probably the least bizarre aspect of this quirky fantasy adventure about household objects that come alive in an alternate universe that's part Studio Ghibli, part Hans Christian Andersen, part Disney.

Mixing narrative with light puzzles, it manages to raise interesting moral quandaries while having you talk to animated lamps or scarves, all the while keeping a straight face.

Forgive the dreadful pun but Forgotton is a small game that's distinctly memorable.

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