State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition Review
Microsoft Xbox One
State of Decay was a little bit of a revelation when it debuted on the Xbox 360 way back in 2013. Janky for sure but wonderfully mixing together third person zombie survival gameplay with base building, survivor relationships, crafting and a wealth of other great RPG mechanics, it turned many heads and went on to be one of the best selling Xbox Live Arcade games of all time and obtaining a very respectable - 8/10 from the team here at The Digital Fix along the way. Feel free to check out our original review here for a full breakdown of the game and everything it entails State of Decay Review - do read this first if you are new to the title.
A lot has changed since the original release, not least of all with the arrival of the new, much more powerful (allegedly) Xbox One and it looks like the team at Undead Labs have decided to remaster, for want of a better phrase, a brand new version of State of Decay. This version, now dubbed the Year One Survival Edition, has a lot going for it, over and above being a remaster of a damn fine game to begin with.
Naturally the first thing people will look for is the obvious graphical overhaul - a solid expectation given the yankiness of the original along with its wonky animations and fairly simple character models. The new Survival Edition thankfully does look considerably better, mainly due to the improved resolution with the title receiving a nice little bump to 1080p, as well as a series of minor yet welcome graphical asset changes. It generally looks more colourful, more vibrant and a lot more defined than the older 360 version, which is a blessing - as much fun as the original was it very much did not look the part.
Sadly, and very puzzling given the power of the Xbox One, is the fact that the majority of the technical issues still remain, some barely improved upon at all between iterations. Screen tear is still evident, along with some audio bugs, peculiar animations, random clipping and a metric ton of frame rate issues, particularly when travelling by car. The last point is arguably the biggest offender; as the screen judders along while driving at what isn’t a particularly fast pace you are also greeted with poor draw distance and what appears to be assets streaming fractions of a second behind when you would like them to. As stated it’s just an oddity that the Xbox One has all that new power when compared to the original Xbox 360 and yet such issues are still present, across the board.
Aside from not addressing the technical shortcomings of this remaster it’s tough to find anything else to criticise about the release. The new 1080p resolution removes blur and generally sharpens everything up considerably, the team adding textures and environmental effects pretty much wherever you look, plus the introduction of new, superior graphical assets makes the game feel far less budget than it perhaps did on the 360. The fact that this new version is also packaged with all the DLC is a big plus point, mainly as this is around £15 worth of additional content all neatly bundled and accessible from the main menu. Lifeline sees you taking control of army personnel, allowing for a different experience than the core campaign offered and the other DLC, Breakdown, allows for you to continue playing after you have completed the final campaign story mission. The Trumbull County map is the same, but all the story content has been stripped out - no army intrigue, no sinister neighbouring enclaves, just miles of desolate wasteland and hordes of the undead to survive.
This new Xbox One version also brings with it the notoriously buggy import save feature, an obvious requirement for this latest generation of consoles due to the lack of backward compatibility and the plethora of remasters that appear on the shelves each month. In this instance it actually works really well - update your digital copy on the 360, choose export, save to cloud and you are golden. When you boot up the Xbox One version simply import and away you go. The only real downside (depending on your viewpoint) is that the achievements don’t pop as they should when your save is imported - randomly a single achievement may pop but not all of the ones amassed on the 360 playthrough, therefore if you like a cheev, it’s time to start again. Which frankly is no bad thing when the game is this engrossing and offers a very realistic take on the excruciatingly worn out zombie apocalypse genre.
State of Decay was one of the best Xbox Live Arcade titles to grace the 360 during its ten year life span and arguably one of the console’s best games full stop. This new updated edition is a step in the right direction. Graphically superior with a higher resolution and a wealth of new animation enhancements, the game tries its damndest to move away from the janky / rough diamond tag that it acquired upon its original release. Sadly, and frankly amazingly, the majority of the performance issues remain meaning it’s not possible for the game to lose that diamond in the rough tag, but that said, it’s still a diamond in the rough. If you played it originally it’s well worth a double dip and if you missed it on the 360, what are you doing reading this?! - log on immediately and buy it.