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State of Decay preview: a fun and tense open-world game

State of Decay isn't lying; it is a world in a state of decay, infested with zombies, and your ultimate goal, from what I've played, is survival. State of Decay isn't scary, but it has filled me with an almost constant feeling of tension as I explore the world, complete missions, look for survivors, and scavenge for supplies because death is, quite literally, behind every corner; zombies can be found anywhere and it is up to you to decide whether the potential reward is worth the risk.

State of Decay is, when I think about it, a game entirely about risk and reward—searching buildings and the like takes a while, but you can speed up the process at the risk of alerting a horde from the added noise that comes with expedited searching; guns can take down zombies much faster than melee weapons, but the noise, if not using a silencer, will bring a lot of unwanted attention; the entire game is filled with similar choices and, as someone who is usually more cautious in games, I find myself risking my in-game life more often than not because death is not scary or annoying, causing constant retries, it is just a part of the world and inevitable.

He may not want to come back, but you will. Like, forever.

You don’t control one person in State of Decay, you control multiple people—you can try and stick with one person, but that would be a bad idea—with the ability to switch between playable characters at any time with the click of a few buttons; if one character dies,  they’re gone forever, but the game continues through the eyes and actions of the characters still alive. Having death mean the end of a character’s life but not the end of the game makes risk-taking less worrisome because if a battle is lost—say, for instance, you get overrun by a horde while searching for medical supplies and die—the war is still far from over. This life and death system also gives the story more of an organic feel because, while there is a set storyline in play, the way you get from point A to point B is entirely in your control.

State of Decay has sucked me in and, even though I’ve already been playing for about four hours, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface—there is so much more than what I've talked about so far, from base building to character leveling and an interesting morale/influence system. State of Decay gives me what I want from a zombie game; I loved Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, but, while the intimate story isn’t present in State of Decay, it more than makes up for it with some of the most tense gaming I’ve played, comparable to the tension found in Dark Souls and XCOM: Enemy Unknown when playing in Ironman mode.  And while the game may be tense, it’s always fun and I’d much rather be playing right now than typing this here preview, so, this is where I say, goodbye readers, hello zombies, as I make my way back to the wonderfully decaying world that is State of Decay.

*State of Decay is available now on Xbox LIVE Arcade for 1600 MS points.

State of Decay (XBLA)

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