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Home » State of Decay 2 Review – A Little Too Much Like Clockwork

State of Decay 2 Review – A Little Too Much Like Clockwork

State of Decay 2
Undead Labs/Microsoft Studios

I was pretty torn when I’d originally heard the news about developer Undead Labs making a new zombie survival game. On one hand, I really enjoyed the original State of Decay which debuted back in 2013. The zombie craze had pretty much reached its peak at that point and the film World War Z was indicative of that period of dominance in the popular conscience. In light of that fact, it seemed that everybody and their mother was coming out with a zombie game at that time.

State of Decay offered a somewhat refreshing take on the whole, increasingly stale “roam-around-and-kill-zombies” genre, introducing some pretty fun base and team management mechanics. It kept you traveling around the map and scavenging for resources while worrying about your team’s morale as well as the hordes of zombies that would periodically assault your base.

However, every year after 2013 has represented both an oversaturation of boilerplate zombie games infused with highly unoriginal storytelling and mechanics, and a growing sense of disinterest in the entire zombie-pocalypse video game genre as a whole. I mean, how many times can you go roaming around in deserted environments and blasting away (and blowing up) shambling masses of rotting, animated corpses?

Indeed, the only zombie games that moved my needle was 2015’s Dying Light, which infused some seriously badass parkour elements into their game, and 2017’s They Are Billions. The latter completely stepped away from the first and third person perspectives altogether and offered a unique, top-down perspective that blended RTS base-building aspects with zombie survival.

Nevertheless, like a stale zombie fart blowing in from a long-sealed room, Undead Labs went back to the well again in order to try to revive the shambling genre. I guess the thinking is that if you have a semi-cash cow IP why not run it into living death until its rotting limbs are falling off (how’d you like that metaphor?).

State of Decay 2’s premise is that of an open world zombie survival game that forces you to manage different characters in the hopes of forming a cohesive community. All in the hopes of resisting droves of ever-present zombies. Sounds pretty original, huh? I will say that for fans of The Walking Dead this may sound appealing since they seem to enjoy the same old hackneyed plotlines over and over and over…and over again that makes sense.

The game does manage to make your day-to-day survival needs seem urgent and pretty desperate as you cobble together your limited resources and try to build adequate defenses around your base in order to protect the soft fleshbags inside. There’s also a decently satisfying base management system in place that rewards you for trying new things.

State of Decay 2 also does a good job of steadily ramping up the difficulty as time passes and your characters grow stronger and become equipped with better weapons. The meat of the game involves roaming around through the countryside and looking for neighboring towns to scavenge through. As you undertake these tasks you’ll also have to make sure that your survivors stay healthy and are in relatively good spirits whilst they blow away and hack zombies to pieces.

Another thing that the game does right is both forcing you to play randomly generated characters with their own weird little idiosyncrasies, and giving each of them only one life to live. That’s right, perma-death is a very real thing in State of Decay 2 which lends a rogue-like ripple to the proceedings.

All of these positive aspects are overshadowed by the overall “been there, done that” vibe that State of Decay 2 conveys. If you’ve already played the 2013 version you’re essentially getting more of the same here. The only difference is that there is a tack-on feeling co-op feature as well as the fact that the base building and crafting aspects are a little more complex. Other than that, we’ve pretty much seen all that this game has to offer before.

In the end, I’d recommended this game to hard zombie enthusiasts. I’m just not sure if there is enough gravitas or originality in State of Decay 2 to hold much more than a passing curiosity for more discriminating gamers.

SCORE: 67%

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