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State of Decay 2 Review – Still janky, still fun
Survive and Thrive
State of Decay isn’t like other zombie games and stories. Usually, in zombie stories, we get one of two options. With Option A, the humans are the real monster, as the Walking Dead has spent the last eight years reminding us. With Option B, zombies are targets for action-hero guns, as in the Resident Evil franchise. In State of Decay, zombies are something simpler: an environmental hazard. Just like a deathly-cold winter, a forest fire, a flood, or any other thing our earth can throw at us, zombies are an obstacle to survival. Humans in State of Decay typically want to work together or join up. People share things with each other, and enclaves of people are just crowded homes, not cults. Crowded houses get tense, sometimes, but people work things out.
And so your goal in State of Decay 2, as in the previous game, is to survive and provide a stable life for yourself and those who join up with you, despite the almost constant stream of obstacles and hazards strewn in your way. Accidents and disagreements in the home, the occasional zombie horde, or a resource expedition that goes sideways — all those can throw things off, and so you have to compensate and mitigate.
Throughout all this, you’re stepping into the shoes of each of these survivors. You level up their skills by going on expeditions and searching deserted houses and businesses, taking down zombie infestations, and doing favors for other human enclaves. All the while you have to monitor your own health, stamina, fuel, and ammo supplies, as well as those of your home base.
Zombies in Hibernation
I’m kinda tired of zombies. I’ve been tired of zombies for a long time. But thanks to the original State of Decay, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this game since it was announced. Despite some pretty stereotypical story beats, the game’s survival mechanics were compelling enough to get me to play through the entire game even though I checked out of both the Walking Dead TV show and game before the first season even ended.
The original game was as ugly and bug-riddled as the zombies you fight in the game, but I couldn’t put it down.
And that’s also how I would describe State of Decay 2.