Posted Fri, Jan 17, 2014 by gunky
The rest of cast of State of Decay has a very familiar feel to it, as well. One could easily draw parallels between any of the game's survivors to equivalent characters in the show. Not all of The Walking Dead characters are represented - there's no Daryl, or Dale, or Laurie, or Carl (or any other children) - but there seem to be a heck of a lot of Jims and T-Dogs and the other secondary characters. There are even groups of other survivors with their own agendas: the Wilkersons are kind of like a hillbilly version of the Governor. Imagine a smaller version of Woodbury run by Merle and Daryl Dixon, and focused around brewing moonshine.
Both the game and the show explore the question, "how do you survive after everything ends?" The Walking Dead approaches this question from a more emotional, human standpoint, focusing on how people react when they are pushed past their limits and are forced to discover new ones. State of Decay takes a more practical view, focusing more on hardscrabble living after the lights go out. Keeping a group of people alive requires food, medicine, tools, weapons and other supplies, and since you can no longer just pop down to the local Wal-Mart and fret about such things as natural versus man-made fibres when buying a new t-shirt, that means scavenging what's available from everywhere you can get into.
Everyone turns into a Glenn Rhee - the guy who goes out and gets stuff. State of Decay has a finite amount of resources available. Once a house has been looted, those supplies never respawn. That house is done, and only serves as zombie shelter (or possibly a mission waypoint) from then on. Mind you, there are a lot of supplies around, and the other characters go out on looting expeditions when you're not controlling them and when they're not recuperating from the abuse you put them through. But they are finite, and the group has to range out farther and farther from base to find them as the game progresses.
This is particularly true of vehicles. There are only so many working cars available. You can use pretty much all of them, but once a car is smashed because you've been using it as a high-speed plow to clear dangerous hordes off the streets, it stays smashed (unless you have the upgraded workshop at your base, and supplies to repair them), and you have one less car to get around in.
It's also particularly true of bullets. They are a fairly rare commodity, and characters have a very limited carrying capacity, so each bullet needs to count. Every bullet that hits anywhere other than the head is one more zombie that needs to be killed with a tree branch.
Rick and the gang run into these sorts of troubles fairly often. It's why they made the bargain with the inmates at the prison for half the food, and it's one of the reasons why Daryl uses a crossbow instead of a rifle. Crossbow bolts can be re-used over and over again, which can't be said of bullets. And even the most citified among them no longer balks at eating owl, possum or squirrel meat, and most of them will even happily nosh on canned dog food during lean times.
It brings to mind the opening scene of Season 3, when Rick and the gang are bouncing from house to house trying to find food and a place to rest for the night. They break into a house and explore it room-to-room without a word. The gang settles in to chow down on some dog food, but Rick is upset that they have come to this, and he snatches the can away in disgust. Their moment of rest is interrupted by the arrival of a handful of zombies, so they bail out of the house and keep on truckin'.
State of Decay's food situation is a little less specific than that. In terms of group supplies, food is a somewhat non-specific resource that gets stockpiled. You don't really know exactly what the food is, but you know how many units of it you have stocked up. In terms of food that can be carried and eaten by the characters, the icon looks like Twinkies packages (undoubtedly a wink and a nod to the movie Zombieland, where Tallahassee could find any food except Twinkies) and the item description is "Snack," but when the character eats it, it looks like an apple. And the description on the resource bundles found in homes occasionally describes the food as "stale but probably still edible" or "pickled in brine." Perhaps it's for the best that the food is not described in great detail - after all the delicious soups, beans and SPAM have been consumed, all that will be left is canned turnip and pork brains in milk gravy. And Alpo, I guess.
Another common theme is the usefulness of crude melee weapons rather than guns. Guns are generally quicker and can be more efficient in the hands of someone properly trained to use them, but they have a number of fairly significant disadvantages. They require ammunition, which can be difficult to obtain, might not work if it's old and can be very easy to waste. Some of them employ complex mechanisms and must be subjected to routine maintenance. A pipe wrench never misfires. A machete never runs out of bullets. A crowbar never jams, no matter how caked it gets with zombie blood and bits of skull and brain and matted hair.
But, even more importantly, guns are frickin' loud. Rick and the gang figured this out fairly early on - if you shoot one zombie, that zombie is dead, but the gunshot is going to attract a crowd because zeds and walkers are drawn to loud noises. Bats and pipes and golf clubs are silent - they take significantly more effort to use effectively. But with a melee weapon, you can get away with only killing a couple of zombies rather than starting a deadly standoff against a slavering herd because you thought it would be quicker to just shoot one zombie in the head.
If you really just can't wait a few more weeks for the second half of The Walking Dead's fourth season, State of Decay might give you a half-decent zombie survival fix. It won't tell you how Rick deals with the most recent spate of heart-wrenching losses, but if it helps, you can scream out "HERSHELLLL!" at the top of your lungs the next time you ram your pickup truck through the middle of a horde.
Some terrible things are going to happen to your characters, but rarely will it ever be as heartbreaking as this.
How do you think State of Decay compares to The Walking Dead? Or to the
Walking Dead games? Or to other zombie-themed games in general? Let us
know in our comments!