State of Decay: By Design and Implication

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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State of Decay: By Design and Implication

With E3 now quite thoroughly in the can, and a host of different topics come and gone in its wake, the post-major event letdown, for some, has started to settle in. But as for me, I can get back to a topic that I've been meaning to tackle for some time, but couldn't thanks to the array of much bigger topics to tackle.

Today, I'm going neck-deep into "State of Decay," the recently-released indie title that's been making quite a splash thanks to its unusual gameplay and its admittedly rather exciting storyline. In "State of Decay," you play a guy who's been out in the woods for the last couple of weeks with an old fishing buddy, out for the standard "get away from it all" sort of trip that many have been known to indulge in. But this particular trip involves getting away from a lot more than you might think, as you've also gotten away from the zombie apocalypse. Now the zombie plague has spread out to your little park area, and you've got to try and survive in a badly altered world.

This game is extraordinarily ambitious, especially for an independently developed title. There's driving in here, several different regions, lots going on and more different factions and kinds of weapons than you can shake a stick--sometimes even one with nails stuck through it--at. It's impressive to see all the different strategies here. The army is as heavy-handed as only the feds can be in a martial law setting, but there are elements within the army that are only out to help the local populace. That kind of schism spells "opportunity". Same goes for the local law enforcement branches, who believe their authority now supersedes that of the feds because the feds aren't helping. Don't even get me started on the Grange. This may well be the first time I've ever seen the farming-centered organization show up in a video game, and that impresses me to no end.

And yes, there are problems; until a recent patch I was actually having my survivor's morale get lost because of infestations of zombies that weren't even in the same ZIP code. It was like "Pandemic II" but for zombies; "Hey church survivors! There's a zombie three towns over!" "SHUT. DOWN. EVERYTHING." There were a lot of problems, and keeping up with the list was crazy; I'd get one thing done and three more would crop up. Sometimes I would settle a survivor's problem with melancholy only to discover that same survivor now was terrified instead just one quest later!

I thought we were BROS, Karen. I thought we were bros.

However, as is so often the case when it comes to video gaming, it's not so much what "State of Decay" is that's important--though really, this is great stuff, and for the price it's especially worthwhile--it's what it represents. See, this is a pretty big title right here, a full-on adventure that looks like it might have come out of a major studio effort. This is what the future of video gaming could well look like, and we may well be seeing the early days of a migration away from major studio efforts and into an era of independent developers, much like we're seeing with movies. Considering things like Nintendo's Web Framework, there's every possibility that more game companies will see what Undead Labs, the guys behind "State of Decay", has done--reports suggest that "State of Decay" is selling about as well as "Minecraft" did--and bring us a lot more titles, with plenty of variety.

It's shaping up to be a good time to be a gamer, so stick around; who knows what tomorrow will bring?
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