State Of Decay PC Review

Let’s take a stroll down a zombie ridden memory lane.

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I’ve been anticipating the State of Decay PC release since I finished up my latest playthrough of the Xbox 360 version. My initial session with the game was full of glitches and near game-breaking bugs. Even though I deeply enjoyed the core experience and the concept of the title, I wasn’t able to give it high marks due to its technical shortcomings. Since then Undead Labs has been in bug stomping mode with the 360 version of their game, and more importantly, they’ve been porting to the PC. So how does the PC release stack up to its predecessor?

State of Decay’s appeal stems from its core survival simulation. The surprisingly deep set of parameters that your group needs to adhere to in order to survive are a joy to conquer. And this time my success wasn’t hindered by technical mishaps. You’ll need to secure food, ammunition, medicine and building materials for your rag-tag band to endure. On top of those basic needs Undead Labs has forced the player to consider things like exhaustion, injury, and even character permadeath when weighing their decisions.

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I launched into the PC release with gamepad in hand, which is likely what many gamers will end up doing. After all, this title was released on console first and foremost. The dev team at Undead is hard at work creating highly applicable keyboard & mouse bindings, but the familiarity of the controller drew me into its lush embrace. Therefore, gameplay didn’t differ much from my previous time with the game, but that’s not to say things didn’t handle considerably smoother. For the most part it looks like Undead Labs have exterminated the bug colony that enveloped the console release of State of Decay. This time around I wasn’t met with many of the circumstances that prompted my previous score of the title. I didn’t experience zombies materializing through walls or floor surfaces, nor did I have any issues with the well-known “infestation” glitch, or the dreaded quicksand of your runners constantly going missing. Many a player ran into the same issues on console. I’m also happy to report that the only time I saw much of a dip in frame rate was during a horde attack. Even then I didn’t see anything lower than 25fps.

 

It’s also great to see State of Decay with high-resolution textures making up its environment. It doesn’t appear that there’s been much of an overhaul with character models, but it’s impressive to see what the studio has done with atmosphere. Forests, cornfields, creeks and the whole of the vegetation used in the environs are considerably higher quality than on the 360. This no doubt has to do with the lighting effects the team was able to leverage on the PC. Even the simple act of using the flashlight during nocturnal raids was surprisingly crisp and much more accurate. In my Xbox 360 review I noted the large amount of frame rate drop and texture pop I endured during driving sequences. Those issues are largely in the past when it comes to the PC installment. I noticed the occasional texture pop, but its occurrence was so minimal that I easily looked past it. The upgrade in aesthetic was jarring. Combine that fact with the gameplay performance issues being ironed out, and I don’t have much to critique this time around.

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State of Decay’s narrative remains its weak point. There’s no real compelling characters or story driven experiences. Most of the dialogue is relatively campy and the voice actors, although not stoic, were in need of additional direction that they didn’t receive. Luckily the strong now outweighs the weak.

At the end of the day, the PC release of State of Decay offered the same great things its console counterpart did. The difference here is in performance and visuals. Having played through the entirety of the 360 release I could have judged the game within the first five minutes of booting it up. Yeah, that’s how substantial the differences are. But I felt the need to enjoy the game at length due to its many improvements. If you’re even remotely considering the purchase of State of Decay on PC, pull the trigger, splatter the brains, and live to survive another day.

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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