State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition (XB1) Review

Surviving the zombies and the glitches.

Zombies. You either love them or you hate them by now. The undead are everywhere, especially in the video game medium. While I have played a ton of zombie games in my gaming life, there’s nothing quite like Undead Labs’ State of Decay. While it has some pretty nasty glitches here and there and a camera that I believe is working for the zombies, I still can’t help but like this ambitious title, and what was already a massive game just got bigger with the Year One Survival Edition on Xbox One and PC.

State of the Decay isn’t your run of the mill zombie game. Yes, I was bashing zombies’ heads in with a lead pipe and holding them off with a shotgun at times, but what makes it stand out over the others is the base and community management system. Players will not only have to survive with their character, they will also have to help out a group of survivors by gathering materials for boarding up their base, finding food and scavenging ammunition.

Platforms: Xbox One, PC
MSRP: $29.99
Price I’d Pay: $20
Multiplayer: N/A


Players start off as Marcus. He and his buddy Ed were on a fishing trip when the zombie outbreak started, and now Marcus, Ed and another survivor Maya decide to help out a small group of people that have boarded themselves up in a local small town church. Of course, finding other survivors and bringing them into the community will require more food and more beds to sleep in. That means having to leave the comfort of the church to find more supplies for both expanding and keeping the people healthy and safe. Doing so can be a rather risky endeavor, even early on. On top of all that, there is permadeath. If Marcus gets torn to shreds by a hoard of zombies, he’s not coming back. There is no “start from last checkpoint.” Instead, players will then have to take over as another “hero” in the community – Maya being one of the other starting heroes. Characters also level up depending on what they use to dispatch the undead. So losing a character I had leveled up to be a great asset to the group really, really stung.

Eventually, I had to move my base from the church to a larger home farther into the suburbs. It was a hard transition to begin with, and suddenly my people started to get sick. I didn’t have enough materials to upgrade my infirmary to combat the disease, and one of my friends was too far gone. I then had to take them out into the woods and kill them before they turned. Yeah, it’s that kind of messed up. In fact, there are multiple times throughout the script I found myself almost cringing at the idea of some things I had to do in this game. State of Decay does a fine job with putting players in very difficult and sticky situations.

While the original game is massive in its own right, this new updated edition comes with the two DLCs that released for the game a year ago. Breakdown adds new items and characters while adding the endless mode to the game. It has no story mode, and it’s all about how long players can survive. Lifeline is a new story centered on the military and their role in all of the zombie outbreaks.

The camera is as deadly as the Zeds.

Let’s get it out of the way – yes, this game has some glitches. There’s no going around that. Multiple times I would have stuff kind of pop up out of nowhere, enemies included. A neighbor died with a giant bag full of supplies on her. As heartless as it may sound, I needed those supplies so I went to where she was on the map and for the life of me could not pick up the bag. I finally had to just leave it. Even multiple hours of play after that, I still have “Rosario’s Belongings” on my map, and I still can’t pick them up.

While the combat can be clunky, it is serviceable. The camera? Well, that is another story. This camera loves to get behind things – walls, zombies, trees, my character’s head, etc. It constantly hindered my point of view to the point I almost died a few times because I couldn’t see the zombie attacking me. It got on my nerves more than anything else in the game.

Even when the camera is fighting against me and the game glitches seem to want me to turn it off, I still found myself drawn back to it. It reminds me of how I felt playing Dead Rising for the first time. Sure, it’s not the best controlling game or the best looking game out there, but it was unique and something I hadn’t seen done before. That’s what State of Decay does for me. It brings me back each time with the leveling system, character progression, and the community management. I fought through the technical issues because of how well the game handles the best things it has to offer.

For players looking for something different, they’ll find it here in State of Decay. It will get on your nerves sometimes without fail, but for the players looking for some strategy to their zombie slaying, they’ll find a great deal here. The massive world is great, and the amount of content is almost daunting. Technical things aside, this is one rather impressive game when you get to the bottom of it. Zombie fans both in action and in strategy will find a decent time here. Just remember, the camera will fight you, and some glitches will pop up, but if you can make it through that, it is one unique zombie game.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Tons of content
  • Great set pieces
  • Interesting survival mechanics
  • Massive world
  • Some clunky combat
  • Major camera issues
  • Many glitches
Written by
Drew is the Community Manager here at ZTGD and his accent simply woos the ladies. His rage is only surpassed by the great one himself and no one should stand between him and his Twizzlers.