State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition – Review
Follow Genre: Survival (horror)
Developer: Undead Labs
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox One, PC
Tested on: PC

State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition – Review

Site Score
Good: True survival, Freedom, Atmosphere
Bad: Bugs, Unclear instructions in Lifeline
User Score
(2 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)

When in 2013 the original State of Decay launched, it was nothing short of a love letter to the survival horror genre that was taking blows, as it is slowly turning into a more fast paced action genre. After the initial success, two more DLC packs were released, each having their quirks and their own set of challenges. Today, the original game and both DLC releases have been bundled, forming State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition, the remastered edition for the next generation.



As this collection ‘consists’ out of the main game and two DLC packs you’ll experience two different preset storylines and one story that is pretty much all up to you.

In the original game you’ll start out with Marcus, together with his friend Ed. You’ll be thrown right into the fray as Ed is getting mauled by what seem to be weird ‘cannibals’. Of course as you start putting two and two together, you find out that the dead no longer stay dead and that they are out to munch some succulent warm brains, in order to achieve their life goals as a living dead. As the game allows you to switch between characters, you will not get any real background story of all the characters you’re able to control. Overall the ‘vanilla’ State of Decay is filled with small missions, that allow for the main plot of surviving to become a tad more personal but as far as real story value goes, you’ll be digging through a fairly flimsy plot with some notable scenes from time to time.

State of Decay – Breakdown allows you to break free from the chains of a story that would otherwise hold you back from scavenging to the max. This means the game offers little to no storyline for you to follow. You’re free to go wherever you please, but there are a few directions you’ll have to follow from time to time, in order to ‘progress’.

In State of Decay – Lifeline, you’ll find yourself behind the other side of the fence, namely the military side. The basic plot revolves around following orders at the cost of letting the civilians around you die, or ignoring those orders, which might cost you valuable resources but saves the lives of innocent people. As you will have to work within a specific timeframe, this story is actually more about making choices, albeit hard ones.


The overall thickness of all the plots leaves to be desired, but as the scavenging and survival portions reign supreme, it’s not that hard to come up with your own story of staying alive. You’ll notice that you do not need that much ‘epic storytelling’ in order to keep the game interesting and exciting.


Even though the ‘trilogy’ has set foot in the next generation, all three titles look like a mix of previous gen with a lot of next gen influences. Whilst many things look quite crisp, there are still a decent amount of simple looking textures and many of the zombies look identical to the ones you just slaughtered mercilessly. Other than that, the games offer a reasonable variety of buildings, landscapes and items that look different from one another. As a whole, everything looks decent and certain items certainly looks quite ‘next gen’.

One thing the game heavily suffers from are graphical glitches and bugs. More than once you’ll see characters or zombies stuck in walls or portions of their limbs, heads and bodies sticking through the wall, making it no surprise where they were normally supposed to hide. Other than that you’ll find walls or obstacles, that are rendered but through which you can walk,  or weird motions your vehicles happen to make out of the blue. Whilst many of these bugs might not bother the actual gameplay, it kind of messes with the fairly authentic survival mood the game is aiming for.


Except for the babbling of fellow survivors and the gargling sounds of the zombies there is not that much to hear in the sound department. Of course, we can all appreciate a good zombie gargle when things get rowdy and truth be told, a game in this genre does not need that much extra intrusive music to keep things interested. Outside of the decent voice acting you’ll notice a more tranquil soundtrack that gets a bit more powerful when the time calls for it. Other than that, it remains simple to keep the eerie ‘survival’ theme intact.



State of Decay (and its DLC) is a survival (horror) game, with permanent death,  in which you will not only find yourself bashing zombies’ skulls one after another, but you’ll also have to keep track of your supplies in order to provide yourself with shelter, food and enough weaponry. Whilst it may already be hard enough to pull this all off, just to keep yourself breathing for another day, it becomes even harder when you have to do it for other survivors as well.

The overall gameplay is pretty much the same for every three different installments, as you will just have to scurry around finding supplies, killing zombies, running away from zombies and keeping your outpost intact and safe. To keep everything going as smoothly as possible, you’ll have to run around the map freely, in order to scavenge supplies from abandoned houses, such as medicines, ammunition, weapons and building materials. These items are not only intended for yourself, as your main base of operations consumes many of these materials on a daily basis. Other than that, the game will throw missions at you to save other survivors, to progress in the story or to find new items to enlarge your base. The latter is to prevent disease, panic or simply build rooms in order for the other survivors to keep themselves occupied.

Everything in the game is fairly straightforward: controls are responsive and the game has a realistic feel to it. As you stroll, walk or frantically run around you will have to keep an eye on your stamina meter because if you run out in the middle of being swarmed by a horde of zombies, you’re pretty much a sitting duck. Keep in mind, if you die in the game your character remains dead and you will switch to another character in order to continue your survival, albeit the survival of someone else. You’ll only switch to another survivor if you have befriended other survivors who have given you enough trust though.


You’ll have to work a lot with the ‘management’ menu, where you can check up on your supplies, the condition of the other survivors and your base. Again at the beginning this might seem a bit ‘much’, but after a short while, you’ll notice that the menu works quite pleasantly.

One of the only things that are not that clear, is expanding your base, as the game does not really give you a tutorial of any sorts. After a while you discover how all of this works, but by then it might already be too late for some panicky survivors.

In State of Decay – Lifeline it’s not clear at all that your main objectives disappear after a fixed amount of time. There is no timer or clear indication on how much time you have. This means you’ll have to make choices between following the main objective or saving random people and/or scavenging. Knowing this in advance would have been that much easier to play this DLC pack the way you’d want to.

Even though nearly everything this State of Decay collection has to offer is great, there are a few setbacks that can cause a lot of frustration. You’ll encounter a truckload of bugs, such as climbing over walls, getting stuck and killed, random tilting of your vehicle(s) and causing it to explode and perhaps even the most annoying thing: buggy friendly AI. You’ll often find yourself defending your base and your fellow survivors decide to do nothing at all. They just stand there, while zombies start tearing up the place. Especially when you get attacked and they do nothing to help you, it’s an extreme pain in the ass.


In Lifeline the ‘bugginess’ becomes even worse when during the sieges, where you have to defend your base, the game does not recognize the walls of your encampment. Due to this, zombies will just pour in from all sides, even though they would normally have to tear down the walls or climb over them.


State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition proves to be a great survival collection, exclusively on all Microsoft platforms. Even though the package has flimsy storylines, you’ll be treated to a realistic zombie apocalypse scenario where you are a simple survivor trying to see the dawn of another day. If you can see through some of the bugs, you will not be disappointed as replay value and overall lengthy campaigns reign supreme. Whatever you do, don’t get swarmed!


VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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