Zombie stories have been crawling out of the woodwork with impunity this last decade or so(yeah, I know cheap line). The appearance of the Walking Dead series shows that the zombie apocalypse has even intruded into the mainstream mindset. I do not know what makes zombies so popular nowadays and your guess is a good as mine, but perhaps it is all about the economy. It usually is..No doubt someone in the future will be far more able to define the reasons why.
There are many interesting sides to this type of end to civilization as we know it. When our neighbors turning into unreasonable flesh eating creatures we can simple shoot them down without any remorse. Shoot them down? My, we can bash their heads in, burn them at the stake, impale them and do anything else we can think of. Things that in any other context would pass as crimes against humanity, but then zombies are not humans.. well not any more. Which is great because you can do all kinds of things you always wanted to do to that pesky annoying neighbor: Homo homini lupus est.. But this post will be not about wolves.
Being undead means you are the great enemy. These stories allow us to clearly define who is the enemy and kill it with any means available. We do not have to feel remorse to kill something that is already dead and is hunting us and the job is a simple straight forward task. Kill, kill, kill. No more complex society.. just you, it and a weapon. Perhaps that is what we miss. And that is it for part one and in part two we will talk a bit more about the guys you see in the last picture in the next post about A state of mind..
Merit: “Venice is actually a kind of strange place for it looks like someone forgot to add new buildings to it after the sixteen century or so. So it is a place that seems forever in old times. So it is a good background for eerie and strange novels, movies and assorted imaginations. Of course.. there is Death in Venice the book by Thomas Mann and of course: Don’t look now…”
Kris: “That is the kind of movie that slowly gets appreciated more and more until everyone gets fed up and it either gets damned for being overrated or becomes a cult classic… or both.”
Merit: “Do you like my picture??”
Kris: “Your picture? I somehow spot the hand of Taubie in this.”
Merit: “Well, I thought of it. Making pictures takes a lot of thinking….”
Kris: “So you does the thinking. And Taubie does?”
Merit: “She makes them pictures..”
Kris: “But no thinking?”
Merit: “Ehm in another way… you know.. like… well, let’s have a look at the next picture.”
Kris : “What is this… and what has this to do with Venice?”
Merit: “That is the book were the story of the movie comes from..So actually Daphne thought of it.. and Roeg made it into a movie. A bit like me and Taubie. I thought of the pictures.. she made them.”
Merit: “So Venice is another possible candidate for being the Capital City of Urupe. Like it has got it all: books, movies, water, boats, historical buildings and landmarks. And you know a lot of Italians went to the US, so there is a sort of intimate connection there.”
Kris: “I wouldn’t know. That movie makes the city pretty scary.. I mean if you see a little person wearing a red coat then you better run.. Did they ever get that killer?”
Merit: “It was just a movie.. besides.. that movie was made like in the last century… decades ago.. Bet if there was a killer he or she will be pretty dead by now.”
Kris: “You never know.. some people might not be people at all..but something supernatural. Like ghosts… or devils or demons.”
Merit: “I think we getting a bit in the depressed zone.. let’s go for an ice-cream.. Which btw Italians are also famous for.. Italian icecream!”
Originally I had one long post that contained all, but I decided to split the post into separate items. This is the tip and tricks part.
Tips and tricks
So next follow some tips and remarks and if you are the kind that likes to suffer discover everything yourself then by all means: stop reading.
There are all kinds of cars in the game but for durability the one in the two pictures above is the best one. The modern pickup, as the game calls it, is a big monster that can run down several hordes and show nothing for it.. ok.. a dent or two. All other cars break down far too soon.
When you leave the ranger station in the introduction game you will ride towards in the Church of the Ascension and just before you enter the village Spencers Mill there is a car accident scene of two cars crashed into each other. To the left side you see a modern pickup parked. Get it. Get all the modern pickups you can get your hands on! For you need a lot of them as you have one that you use and the rest will be repaired while you are squatting hordes.
Cars will be repaired slowly when you park them near your home base and you have at least a workshop. According to the rules only the car in the car space, but curiously enough any car parked nearby the Snyders trucking warehouse would end up repaired overtime.
Do not park too many cars near your home base.. I did once and one disappeared because someone took it out for spin and never returned it. At Snyders I got this event when I had eight cars parked around it.
The modern pickup has two disadvantages.. it is a big machine that can not move easily around in close spaces and it is not the fastest car, although it is not the slowest car either.
Be aware that cars are zombie magnets. They will gather around your car while you are out doing missions or exploring a house.
Cars have a horn.. Press Q and it will make a loud noise. This is very useful during missions in which you have to lure away zombies or draw out zombies into the open.
(Update November 2013)
Be careful with driving cars cross country or over uneven terrain. The physics in the game are somewhat unpredictable and it could mean your car will end up belly up.. and you will be ejected and find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere.
The first modern pickup you encounter is to the left in the picture. There is a catch because when you get close zombies will spawn. No worries though.. you have three people to deal with them: Marcus, Maya and Ed.. oh and Ed might look in a bad shape, but he still can swing a bat around quite well.
Outposts(and resource gathering)
When you acquire the first home base(the Church of the Ascension) you still can not do everything you need to do. Noticeably you can not establish an outpost. This option comes available after doing the first survey mission Lily gives you and before the Mission: Survivors. And you can establish an outpost via the Radio Assistance which is called using the LEFT ALT button.
Outpost also create resources. They work as follows. They will create 3 resources of the kind you see displayed on the map and only the first one. Even if more resources are shown it will just create three of the one that is shown on the map. To do this it needs 1 material. When there are no resources left an outpost creates 3 ammo. You can also have 3 materials created in an place that has materials, which also cost 1 material for a net result of 2 materials. For the Trucking warehouse the cost of eight outposts is eight materials.. with which you can produce 24 resources so you gain 16 resources. It is one of the reasons I prefer the Trucking warehouse.
Note that turning a place into an outpost makes all items and resources in that place unavailable for gathering. So remove as much items as you can before you turn them into outposts. (Update: October 2013) a recent test shows them to be available.. which might have been due to a patch or a bug so now you can move items from the store you turned into an outpost into the store.
(Update November 2013)
In some blog posts it was suggested that resources re-spawn. The idea was not take all the items inside a container. Eventually new items will show up. I have run a few test games leaving items behind(mostly things like fire-crackers and dolls.) I have yet to experience any regeneration of items. In fact items will simply disappear and buildings will be marked with nothing left and there will be no containers.
IMPORTANT: containers that have resources inside them will only disappear when you empty them of their resources. So these resources will not disappear during the game like items will. But mark this: buildings will be marked with nothing left even when they still contain resources. Thus the marking on the map that there is nothing left is about items.. and not about resources.
Homebases are the places where your group of survivors hide out, where you can stash supplies and equipment and repair weapons and cars. Most home bases have slots available to create a workshop, garden, watch tower and the like. Some of these can be upgraded. Some of these repair your cars, others you can use to make medicines and yet others allow you to make ammo.
There are several potential home bases available. The State of Decay wiki neatly lists them so you can select the one you like to have. I have played twice now and choose the Snyders trucking warehouse both as it is the biggest available early in the game, has a lot of space to store goods, can have up to eight outposts and can be easily defended by four outposts or even three. The other you can use around the map to create safe havens.
The option to relocate a home base appears only after your get the Mission: Home Away From Home. This mission will appear as part of the first quests but the real trigger is not clear to me.
A relocation does not cost the materials that are mentioned, it just requires you to have that many. So when you need 50 materials to have a home base relocated it will not use them.
After some testing I observed the following in the game in regard to home bases..
In the game there are seven potential home bases. However the options are much more limited than this might suggest.
Choosing which home bases seems to have no impact on the resource needs. It does not matter if you choose a big home base or a small base.. they cost the same.. What makes a base more expensive is that daily resource costs seems influenced by what you build, your equipment, the amount of survivors and cars you have. Since a bigger home base has more slots to build it eats up more resources when you use them.
The Trumbull valley fairgrounds is not a great option as it is only available later in the game after you have progressed on the army story line. This progress is somewhat unpredictable but in any event it is only available later in the game. The fairgrounds are actually not even a much better option then the trucking warehouse as it has hardly more building options. In addition because it is late in the game you either have to hold back on building and reserve materials for when you move towards the Fairgrounds or you have to waste resources on builds that you have to redo at the fairgrounds. Also the one time I moved to the fairgrounds I lost 50 materials.. so it is not true that moving does not cost materials. But there might be a reason as my move was from the Church of Ascension to Savini towards Fairgrounds.. it might be that either having to many resources caused this loss of materials or that a second move might have caused this.
There are even more disadvantages to the Fairgrounds. It is pretty distant from most places.. so gathering resources mean you have to travel a lot and considering that both bridges have obstacles(and one on both sides!) it is a hassle to get around fast. Also the town near the Fairgrounds lacks resources and items to boot. In fact the entire office block at one side if the town is empty.
The Alamo is a small home base in the center of Marshall and it is almost no improvement on the Church of Ascension in regards to space and building options. It might be a base of someone who wants to play a hard game as it is basically open to all sides and you probably need all the four outposts it allows to cover the approaches to the base or see it constantly invaded by zombies.. It is therefore only an option for someone who likes a challenge.
Kirkman and Savini are on the same level and can be seen as the next step after the Church of Ascension and the Alamo respectively. However Savini is probably the better option because it is located at Marshall while Kirkman is located at Spencer’s Mill. Since your game starts in Spencer’s Mill, it is likely that by the time you can relocate a home base you will have exhausted most of the resources in that village. In addition most the middle game story-lines take place in Marshall and thus you would be required to travel a lot. Next to that, the Savini place can be protected by just three outposts.. allowing you to use the other three as moving bases, while Kirkman is open to all sides and thus needs more outposts to protect it.
The McReady Farmhouse is the next step after Kirkman and Savini but has two big disadvantages.. the first is that you can not protect it with outposts like you can with the others and the other is that it is in the middle of nowhere with only a few roads.. Thus you will be travelling a lot.
The Trucking warehouse is probably the best option overall. However there are a few issues to be aware of. First.. the zombies are in the final release more dangerous than they were in the pre-release.. Hence it is imperative to make an outpost in the storage shed at it’s backside.. otherwise be prepared to see a lot of zombies filtering in from the back. Also it is probably wise to cover the whole front with outposts. I estimate that about four would be enough to protect the whole and this includes the one at the back. I you turn the petrol station near the bridge into another outpost you probably have a pretty save place. This still leaves you with three outposts that you can put anywhere you want.
There are even more reasons for the Trucking Warehouse and one is that it comes with an upgraded workshop. This can not be upgraded again or changed into a weapons workshop, but the fact that you do not have to spend 25(or was it 40) materials on an upgrade means you save a lot. Because it has many slots you can build almost everything except for one thing. I usually do not build a training area(see below picture).
Snyders Trucking Warehouse, personally my favorite.
McReady Farmhouse is smaller then the Warehouse and more vulnerable as you have just one building near that you can turn into an outpost.
Influence and fame
Influence is simply the currency of the game. You gain influence by doing missions or getting resources and items.
Influence will be limited by fame. You can have more influence than fame though, but that influence will drain away slowly. And remember the game keeps on running even when you are not playing. So eventually your influence will be reduced to fame.
Fame itself can be increased by doing missions.
One trick to prevent influence from draining away is using some of your community members to store items. These can be turned into influence later on.
Another way to manage your in influence is to stick to companions you get via missions and not recruit a special companion..Usually there are enough missions to go provide you with one, or even two, companions..
Missions come in two kinds: plot based missions and random missions. The first are fixed missions that you get when certain conditions are met and usually one follows the next.
Random missions are almost all aimed at killing of zombies or saving or protecting someone’s butt from zombies. There are only a limited set, so you will see them being repeated a lot during the game.
Random missions are on a timer, meaning that they will expire after a while. Plot missions are often not on a timer, except for one involving The Law. When a mission expires it usually has a negative effect on moral and might cause one of your members to disappear. Might, because I have never had this experience, but then I let missions involving community member seldom expire.
Be aware that when you team up with someone as part of a mission (of both types) that someone might leave you to hang out to dry the moment the mission is over regardless of what condition you are in or how many zombies are around. This can leave you to face a bunch of zombies alone without a car near. So make sure that you always got a backup plan to get out. I always make sure a trusty modern pickup is parked nearby, but remember: they attract zombies so you might have to fight some to get to it.
It is wise to listen to Lily(the girl that speaks to you over the radio) for she sometimes give you advice that you better follow. So when she says to gear up.. gear up!
After a while you will be able to recruit other people to head out with you for 100 influence. This is a good investment because you can easily get them back by scavenging. Since you can switch between your companions when they are friends, as long as they are not tired or hurt, you can use them to store more equipment.
There are a few things to take note of.
When you accept missions of others companions might leave. Especially in all plot missions they leave the moment you accept and they can even leave the moment you just clicked the mission area on the map. Also survey quests makes them often leave you.
(update November 2013)
In some occasions the companion you recruited will leave when accepting a mission in, some case they do not. I have not find a predictable pattern.
Many missions give you a companion for the duration of that mission. Since most missions end after reaching a certain area(returning home for example) or killing a certain group of creatures you can take these companions along until that condition is met. While you can not do other missions with this companion or switch characters, you can take these free companions with you to protect you while you scavenge, establish outposts and relocate bases.
(update November 2013)
In quests where you are ask to hunt a certain special zombie or to clear away an infestation the companion you get during that mission will leave you at once when the goal has been reached. This might leave you suddenly without any help. This can be annoying and dangerous.
There seems to be a catch in the game in that the more companions you have with you, the more zombies are generated around you. So having a companion around can be a bit of a mixed blessing.
(Update November 2013)
When you have to go home quick or find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere, you can deal with the situation by switching to another character. Your old character will walk home, but there is no worry about him or her being hurt. Those characters are invulnerable.
Freak zombie are special zombies. There are five types: armored zombies, rotter zombies, big uns, ferals and screamers.
Armored zombies are basic zombies but armored. Guns have little effect on them unless you shoot them in the face. Otherwise they just take longer to die.
Rotter Zombies are the type of zombies that explode in a cloud of toxic gas. Keep your distance from them and shoot them in the belly. Do not drive a car into them as you will get thrown from the car and the car is unusable as long as the cloud is in it.
Big Uns. Big and slow. although it can charge for a shot distance. A big un or juggernaut is very tough and very strong. The easiest way to kill it is to throw molotov cocktails at it. Four is usually enough to soften them up to be killed. Probably a grenade launcher might work as well, but I have not tried that.
Ferals. Nasty, tough and fast, They might be mistaken for normal zombies. They jump around quickly and pounce on you. Once they have you in a hold it is hard to break it. They can take a lot of punishment.. perhaps as much as an armored zombie. However they are prone to be bashed to the ground with blunt weapons. Just keep bashing them.
Funny enough they have a predictable pattern of jumping. When you drive at them with a car they jump to the side and when you immediately swivel the car into the direction they jumped the car usually will intercept the feral in mid jump as it tries to go for your car door. It is surprisingly easy to kill with a car.
I also noticed that shooting it in the head from a distance will work too as it just seems to ignore you pumping it with lead until it is dead.
Screamers are by far the most annoying zombies. Screamers are often the center of an infestation and usually come in pairs. They scream to stun you and attract other zombies(hordes even). Usually they are protected by a large group of zombies. The tactic is to lure the protecting zombies away and then shoot the screamers in the head. If you are handy with molotov cocktails that will work too. A grenade launcher worked also in once case. Cleared them out in no time.
Want a party? Bring a gun.
Guns come in all sizes, but break down in four categories: pistols, revolvers, rifles and shotguns.
Pistols and rifles can be silenced, revolvers and shotguns can not.
There are also grenade launchers in the game.
Making loud noises attracts zombies, hence firing un-silenced guns will get you their attention.
Interestingly the revolvers and shotguns usually make the most noise. On the other hand, they do usually more damage.
Getting automatic or specials weapons is hard task. There are only a few places where you stand a chance to find something special, which is the police station in Marshall, where I found automatic shotguns and grenade launchers, and the military camp up north that gave me a machine gun and a military grade grenade launcher. The loot seems to be random so you might find nothing much and the military camp is only available late in the game and swarming with freak zombies.
Later on in the game you can buy a few guns from others, but they are a basic selection probably to make sure you at least have the option to get them.
My experience with guns is that they only useful in special cases, but not as an option to replace hand to hand combat. For one; guns make loud noises that attract nearby zombies and in fact the game seems to generate zombies when you make a lot of noise(and a lot of them to boot, especially later in the game).
In addition there are no magazines in the game. Bullets are stored in your inventory as separate items and you can have 30 bullets per backpack slot. This means that even if you find enough bullets you can not really go on a killing spree unless you keep close to an outpost. In addition a gun can only be reloaded when you stand still and I found that when you need to reload you never get around doing that unless you can have something that keeps the zombies at bay, like standing on a platform or behind a barricaded window.
Next to that: zombies can take a lot of bullets unless you aim at the head. I found that at time a pistol with seventeen rounds could be as effective as a machine-gun with a hundred rounds. Just head shot them.
Shotguns are good weapons for rubbing out a horde if you keep your calm. You need to have them really close and then unload it at head level. What remains can be killed off by hand. Shotguns are especially handy when zombies are forced to use a narrow opening to get at you, like a window or a door.
Grenades, grenade launchers and Molotov cocktails
Thrown grenades and other incendiary weapons are handy to kill groups of zombies. Throwing needs to be trained though. The aim in the game makes you overthrow your target so you need to get a good feel of how to throw. Molotov cocktails are somewhat better than grenades because grenades make a lot of noise.
Grenade launcher in action
Grenade launcher in action
Grenade launcher in action
Gathering and using resources and items
There are many places where you can find resources and items. Mostly they are inside buildings, but sometimes you can find them in fields and thickets. There is a certain pattern to them. Sheds and construction sites will have resources and fuel, stores will have food, guns shops and the like will have ammo. Normal houses can have anything, but tend to lean to medicines and food. Fields have food.
Searching resources takes time. And usually it generates zombies nearby. They might not always find you though. The search time is reduced when your wits level increases.
When you search a house you can find two types of things: resources.. which is usually called a stash, and items like weapons or bottles of pills.
Resources can be taken with you. You do that by pressing E and hold it down. Be aware that if you remove all the resources, the place will only generate ammo if you turn it into an outpost. You can only take one resource with you at a time and it makes you encumbered and you need to deliver it to your homebase. Items can however be dumped in outposts.
I do not know if items become available again after you remove the outpost.Another unknown thing is if a house that is not researched in total will keep on generating items. I got the feeling that certain houses I searched, but not in total were searchable again.
A very important thing to be aware of is that when you leave items to be collected later that they might disappear. This is actually pretty logical. Some other group of survivors might have taken them.
Note also that you can not put items from your backpack into the containers you search. It is one way only.
The game is relentless and it keeps on going even if you are not playing. During a play session, the only way to pause the action is by going in to the menu, but even if you do that a long time I noticed that you will find things have changed the moment you return to the game. So going into the map to get your bearings will not stop the game and therefore make sure you are at a place where you are not suddenly attacked by zombies.
Normally there is just one save and with each event or mission the results are immediately saved into the save game. Hence you can not normally reload to a previous state after having your favorite character killed.
However on the pc you can locate the save game and copy it to another place. So if your favorite character is killed, you can copy the old save back to the original folder. This can also be used when you play the next day and you find the results to unfavorable. Just close the game, copy the backup again and see what the result is.
Not that you must be either in the main menu or have closed down the whole game before copying the old files.. otherwise the game will just write over these old files.
The save game is located here:
On a 32 bit windows computer:
<drive you installed the game>:\Program Files\Steam\userdata\108132632\241540\local
On a 64 bit windows computer:
<drive you installed the game>:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\userdata\108132632\241540\local
Night, day, dawn, dusk, noon.
Night is the nastiest time. There are more zombies roaming around and they are much harder to spot. Since light seems to attract them as much as noise, having your lights on will alert nearby zombies. Especially inside buildings you have a hard time to see what you are fighting. Zombies do have distinct glowing eyes, but who is counting those when you are busy clubbing them. The day and night cycle in the game in based on an one hour real time scheme. These represent in game days. The daily resource need as shown in the game for the needs of your home base are real time need. That is what one real day will require.
Neighbors & Other survivors(Update November 2013)
One activity to do in the game is to gather survivors and deal with those that do not join your group. Gathering survivors to join your group is a double edge activity. More people means you have more player characters to play with, but they also are more mouths to feed and more beds to fill. More player characters are nice as usually a few of your group will be tired, hurt or sick.
There are basically three groups of survivors. Those that are plot related like the Wilkersons, The Army, The Law and The Grange. There are a few survivors from the Law that will join you after a certain plot related event, but the others will never join you. I have heard that the Wilkerson might join you if you pursue a certain route in the plot line.. but I have never tested this as I simply do not like them and they are way out in a zombie-horde infested place. In all it is too much bother to try and curb their favor.
The second groups are those that will join you.. these usually come available as missions like a group of survivors asks to join you, or a stranger located or survivor activity reported. These will join you at the end of the mission.
The third group never seems to join you.. These are invariably announced as neighbors, have their own base(called enclave) and they are random groups that suddenly appear. I have never been able to have them join me. I even tried with one that had complete trust, but they did not want to join. Usually these enclaves of survivors disappear. They seem to get assaulted the whole time until they eventually die. Sometimes they give you barricade missions and sometimes the dead survivors leave rucksacks behind you can take home.
Honestly, we went to Paris first. We just wanted to confuse you. Paris might possiblly be the capital city of Urupe because it has a very big tower (= bog tower). Other cities have big towers as well, but not as iconic as Paris has. It is the Eiffel tower, a huge early industrial age tower. We wondered if it is still can be considered to be the same tower or that it now has all its constituent parts replaced so that it is actually not the same tower that Eiffel had built, but a totally new tower. Would that not be like a living being, a creature that recreates itself?
The first place the two nekos visited was Paris, but because they are pretty unpredictable we do the Lundun visit first. Lundun in SL has many suprises and one includes this rather creepy guy called Jack the Ripper. Deemed responsible for the deaths of many women in Lundun at the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century, he has gotten away with his foul deeds. It is a shame.
His identity and his motif are a mystery, a mystery that creates one book or movie every decade or so.. no doubt more. Sherlock Holmes was probably not around at the time, otherwise he would have apprehended the bugger. A pity indeed.
Originally this post was one long post, but I decided to cut it up into more manageable parts. This is the evaluation part.
Someone from Undead Labs requested to not review their early release of their game State of Decay for PC. An odd request because the game has already been out for over three months on the Xbox and one wonders what could be so different between the two releases that merits this request? It is not like they are going to radically alter the game in a few months time. More likely they are just ironing out some issues that a port from xbox to pc will have and tweak it a bit here and there and then release it to the market. Time is money. Especially for a game that is going for 20 dollars a piece.
But I will humor the guys at Undead Lab and not make a review. Personally I don’t like reviews anyway as I just want to rant a bit and most of all remark on some things that helps you a bit getting around. Things about which you might have said: if I had known that before I would not have been torn to ribbons by flesh eating zombies so often.
Flesh eating zombies? Did you say… zombies?
Groan… not again..
Yes, it is another of those zombie apocalypse games, but it has a few things that make this game interesting unlike some of those others. But first let us see one zombie in action… A big one called a Big Uns or Juggernaut. And the girl with the dread locks is Sam trying to down a one with the aid of three soldiers.
Notice the bag Sam is holding? It is called a rucksack and that contains resources with which you run the base where your community of survivors are trying to get by. It is the reason you actually have to get out and expose yourself to danger.. well one of those reasons.
State of Decay is a game where you lead a ragtag collection of zombie apocalypse survivors until you decide to flee the place after which the story basically ends. Although you are free to continue the game afterward, there will be no further developments. In the game you gather and lead that group of survivors, set up a makeshift base and do some scavenging, random missions and plot based missions to get by. During all of this you have to deal with zombies of all kinds, scrounge around to replenish those ever dwindling supplies, keep the moral up and bail people out of (zombie related) trouble.
But who is you?
You are actually not one person, but a group of persons. At first that part of your group of survivors that have a friend status. Eventually that will be everyone in your community, but at first you can only play Marcus and Maya. Maya joins Marcus already in the introduction part of the game, so you basically start out with two characters. But you will find that your community will quickly grow in size for better or worse, for more people means more mouths to feed and more beds to fill. On the other hand, more people increases the chance of having one with that special skill that makes the garden grown more food or that can turn a workshop into a munitions shop.
But regardless of anything: your supplies keep fading away. In a fortnight(real time) most of it is gone. Lucky you can end the game before you run dry. You could of course stave of the end by having some of your lesser members ‘accidentally’ killed but I sort of don’t like that.
So that is the game down to the bare bones: resource gathering, crew running and zombie killing until the story ends.
State of Decay is classed as an Indie game. Indie is a buzzword nowadays and often covers companies that are as far away from the original sense of the word(independent) as mainstream companies are. A certain development among the games development world is to have new ideas developed by outsiders so that when all fails they do not financially bring down the house of mainstream developers. It is probably also used partly as an excuse to generate sympathy for crappy low budget games.
Undead Labs are actually in business with Microsoft Studios and you know who they are. It is Microsoft jumping on the indie bandwagon. Is that bad? Well, I do not know, but do not be fooled by that word. This is not some zombie fanboy coding into the wee hours in his shed. These are professional programmers of the kind that used to work for Microsoft Studios, and they still work for it, but on paper they are no longer part of it.
So how about the game?
If I was to compare State of Decay to a meal, then I would say that it managed to get most of the basic ingredients into a right mix to make a decent meal, but there are no extras on the side.
The game gives you command of a group of survivors and a base of operations that needs protection. You then get a few excuses to go around massacring scores of undead, but that is basically all that there is to it. There is hardly any story there and the many painful and revealing moments that one sees in movies or stories are only casually referred to. The whole plot is as thin as it can be and the thirty plot related missions are often something like: drive to a person and hear what he has to say. You then get delivered a few lines of voiced text in which you have no options but to listen and your chosen avatar of the moment will be scripted to agree to do what is being asked. Only once will two different plot lines interact and you faced with a moral decision. This is not a roleplay game with heartbreaking decisions to any degree.
Random missions are generally of three kinds: go someplace and kill something, drive to a place and save someone from being killed or go there to trade and protect the trader(s).
The homebase you get can be established and provided with facilities. A few can be upgraded once, some twice. There are like eight home bases available in the game. That sounds like much, but down to earth there are actually only two that make any sense: McReady Farmhouse and Snyders Trucking Warehouse. All the others are actually too small and the only other big one, the Trumbull County Fairgrounds becomes only available (too) late in the game and would require to hold back upgrading facilities until you can move into it. You will find however that you want to upgrade your home base as soon as possible and you will be done upgrading mid game. Hence moving to a new base to start again from scratch is hardly an option and would required a lot of extra materials.
Mid game I found myself actually staring at the clock wondering when the next plot related mission will become available. There is just so much fun in clubbing countless undead hordes to death, especially when it does not matter that you do.
There seems to be a certain randomness in when plot related missions become available. In my second playthrough there were already events happening in Marshall while I still had no option to move my homebase.This required me to drive around up and down the map.
In the first playthrough these events did not happen until I had established a home base at the trucking warehouse. It is part of the deal, but once you are staring at the clock you rather wished the game would get a move on.
One of the issues with the game is that much of the fear and uncertainty that are part of a horror experience is taken away by providing us with too much information.
We get conveniently warned about freak zombies in the vicinity, for when you near one it will make a certain noticeable sound that warns you. The same is with a horde, We get warned when one has seen us:
And the radar provides us with an early warning system. While not every zombie will show up in the radar it will inform us about the ones that have noted us: they turn red. And we have no fear of the horde seeing us the arc of vision(?) is pointing away. How convenient.
And when zombie hordes are threatening our home base we are often neatly informed about it. We have a direct line with Lily over the radio so at any time we can open the map or look at the state of the home base.
In addition the game almost lacks humor. For instance; one would have thought that the game would have added a chainsaw for laughs. A noisy heavy zombie killer that kills undead by scores but attracts them by the scores as well, but there is no such thing. Nor are there zombies dressed up as Bozo the Clown. I would have expected at least one at the fairgrounds… but no dice. Erik Tan is about the only one who sort tries to crack a joke, albeit mostly sarcastic and cynical ones.
Most of what is in the game is basic. For instance the modern pickup comes in two colored versions.. that is about it. You can not tweak cars or weapons.
One seriously lack is being unable to influence other survivor colonies. They will show a trust bar, suggesting you can recruit them if they fully trust you, but except when they offer you a random mission(usually not more then twice) there is no way to increase their trust. In fact it looks like that was never meant to be and the trust bar is a relation towards how much you pay for buying items from them, strangely enough some do not even have items to sell. After a while most of these colonies disappear because they are overrun by hordes, except when they are required for the plot. I tried to save one of these location by surrounding it with outposts, which went well when I was playing, but when I logged in the next day it was gone anyway.
All in all the game is a decent basic game for it’s money and well balanced to provide you with a basic zombie apocalypse experience for a short while. It has a limited replay-ability , but really limited as the flimsy main story will play out the same way as it has done before and end in the same way.
So….what is actual the capital city of Urupe? Figuring out that was not easy. Some of the inhabitants told there was no such thing as the capital city of Urupe, but you and I know that they are just confused because they are Urope people. For that is what Urupe people are…confused about themselves. Like the United States of America has gotz it states and the capital city, which is Washington, so Urupe people has their states.. like German land and that place with French speaking people.. eh.. Walloon? France? Anyway.. And you gotz those Spanish people down south and those Pizza creators somewhat to the south east.. Anyway.. since we figured the rest of the world might like to know what the place is actually their capital city we listed some candidates here.. Our pick was Luxembourg.. we settled that over dinner: it was capital.
“Nothing can ruin the carefree mood of a football game so much as an imminent nuclear holocaust.” Henry folded his hands behind his head and stretched his body as to make full use of the couch.
“Blimey, we actually saw a movie that was on the good side of the average divide…” Kristl said and she handed Henry a beer. She had walked into the kitchen that was at the end on the adjoining corridor of their garage-turned-movie-theater.
“Beer…? Blimey..? A positive mood? What has gotten into you?” Henry quickly secured the offered beer before something sudden would happen, like a nuclear war or a mood swing. You never knew when Kristls mood would take another turn. Women, so Henry thought, were highly unpredictable.. especially to men..
” I really liked the movie. It was a good political thriller. Strange actually, considering that I knew what was going to happen: it still had me on the edge. I liked it that they never showed what the other people were thinking or doing: the Soviets, the Cubans, even their own people: the US military. And although I had to get adjust for a moment, it was a good thing that Kevin Costner did not play the president but his adviser. It sort of made it more human. “
“Yeah, funny… Our military was as much to be trusted as not. I can imagine that some people will not like this image of some military dudes gung ho-ing for a nuclear war. Perhaps somewhat unfair too? The russians were the bad guys, no?” Henry mused. He savored his beer.
“Soviets. Not Russians. Let’s call them Soviets. And the answer: maybe.. maybe.. at least they were unknown baddies.. That makes the movie unnerving. You have no idea what they are thinking. Just like the president and his staff must have been experiencing. What are they up to? How far will they go?”
“And what if they don’t stop?”
“Yeah. How did you like the intro.. how it flows from the introduction into the movie. Other than that the movie was not a cinematographic high movie. Not spectacular shots. But well played and well written.” Kristl added.
“I actually was amazed myself that I liked it.. I mean,…” Henry made a vague gesture.. spilling some beer.
“No damsels in tight suits shooting up legions of evil guys?” Kristl smiled.
“Yeah.,, no action.. yet the movie scares the shit out of you. They were so hovering on the brink of a nuclear war. If the Russians had not given in.. If they had not turned those ships around..” Henry made a sudden gesture with his hands making him spill beer all around, “BOOM!”
“That is true.. but than we never know if president Kennedy would have backed down himself. Or that they would have ignored the ships being there. This is of course another thing. That this issue got to be a big issue was because the US made it into a one. They were prepared to go to war over nuclear missiles stationed on Cuba not because it meant that the US could now be nuked -the Soviets could do that already- but because the US could be nuked far quicker then before. Not hours.. but minutes. It sort of evened the score in their opinion because that same threat hung over the heads over everyone else. It sort of give you pause to think why this thing was played up. Why was Kennedy prepared to let it get this far?”
“Well. In the end the Russians backed down.. so the US won.” Henry said.
“Won?” Kristls face became thoughtful, “Won. Maybe. But at that point in time I wonder.. was it really necessary to drag the world towards a nuclear war over some missiles placed on Cuba? I mean really.. the Soviets could already nuke the US back into the stone age so placing missiles on Cuba was not actually changing the balance in the world by much. Maybe it was more to save the presidents prestige than anything else. Which makes you wonder… and scared. “
“Let’s not fret over things that are in the past. We are talking about a movie, not about some political historical discussion. I liked the movie even if there was not one action scene in it.”
“Uhmm. Touchy subject no?”
“Let us just say that it ended in a positive mood. Red lost…”
“And blue won?”
“Only not sure who was red and who was blue.” Kristl said to herself.