Given that Undead Labs’ State of Decay was one of the highest selling IPs on Xbox Live Arcade, it’s no surprise that Microsoft is re-releasing it for the Xbox One — Minecraft, the only XBLA game to outpace it, is already on the new console. Priced at $29.99 and dubbed State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition (YOSE), the updated version features improved graphics, new characters and weapons, along with both of the previous add-ons: Breakdown and Lifeline.
Those that wish to read our detailed coverage of both the main game and its DLC can click on the links above; for the purposes of this review we’ll be focusing more on a big picture overview. Also of note, existing Xbox 360 saves can be easily brought over the XB1 via a Cloud Save function that has been added to the older version. Owners of the original also receive a 33 percent discount off of the digital release (dropping the total to $19.99) along with a couple other goodies. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s check out YOSE.
After initially thinking I’d load my old save, where I’d long ago completed the main storyline, and tinker around with the world, I quickly decided to start over from scratch and experience State of Decay all over again. What stood out to me, more than the enhanced graphics or new goodies, was how addicting the game remains, even after having played dozens of hours on the Xbox 360.
I tried to vary things up a bit, leaning on different survivors to complete missions and focusing on a more defensive approach to dealing with the undead, to give it a fresh feel, but the truth is I didn’t even need to do that. The structure of the game — scavenging for ammo, food and supplies, evading and engaging zombies, managing influence, etc. — coupled with the constant threat of perma-death creates a legit tension that just doesn’t exist in so many other titles that broach the same core concept of surviving in a post-apocalyptic world.
As a gaming experience, State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition still delivers with the main campaign and two meaty DLC packs. As an upgraded version, however, it’s not as impressive. The graphics, while better than the 360, still sit firmly on the bottom rung of Xbox One titles, and the move to a more powerful console has not smoothed out as many technical issues as you’d like. There are still lots of clipping problems with zombies and stuttering in the frame rate when things get too hectic.
Undead Labs has indicated a lot of work went into overhauling YOSE, and while I don’t doubt them, to the naked eye things appear to have changed very little. There’s a new character (Gurubani Kaur) for returning players and a Prepper’s Pack (a couple weapons and a vehicle) for early purchasers, but no real “wish list” items (such as multiplayer) have been incorporated.
Ultimately, with State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition you’re largely getting the same game, warts and all. That being said, don’t let technical shortcoming dissuade anyone that missed it on the Xbox 360 from purchasing it this time around. Even those that already bought it and haven’t taken the journey might find it’s a trip worth taking all over again.