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Video Game: State of Decay

State of Decay is an open world zombie apocalypse survival simulator and the first game from developer Undead Labs, founded by Jeff Strain (aka lead designer of World of Warcraft.) Released on XBLA on June 5th, 2013 and released on the PC on September 20th the same year, State of Decay is set in the rural Trumbull Valley: 16 square kilometers of farmland, forests, and small towns. The player returns from a week-long camping trip to find the dead have risen and must establish a group of survivors to endure the zombie apocalypse. The game's official website is here.

State of Decay combines elements of multiple game genres including third-person combat, base building and community management, loot collection, skills improving, and permadeath, among others. The game is single-player only (Currently Undead consistently stated they had no intention of making a Co-Op DLC), but will pave the way for Undead Lab's future zombie apocalypse MMO, tentatively titled Class4.

The game received positive reviews from critics, with IGN giving it an 8.9 out of 10, but they did point out that the game had framerate issues.

It was released on September 20th 2013 for PC on Steam's Early Access program (Notably, the game looked better and has keyboard support, but mouse control is very clunky - an Xbox 360 controller is still preferrable - and the graphic options cannot be fine tuned). Details can be found here. Later updates and patches finally tuned mouse control to something acceptable for a shooter.

The first DLC, Breakdown was released for seven dollars on November 29th. It comes with a much heavier focus on survival. The main focus of the DLC is the titular "Breakdown" mode, an Endless Game mode where your survivors must locate and fix an RV in each level to escape the town (and reach a new level that looks exactly the same, but with resources refreshed and difficulty increased). Breakdown Mode introduced playable characters who used to be NPCs from the Storyline Mode.

The second DLC, Lifeline was announced in February 2014 and released on May 30th. It takes place in the city of Danforth just outside of Trumbull Valley and puts you in control of a small military unit called Grayhound One. In an inversion of several zombie tropes, in this DLC the military are well-meaning and not mindlessly gunning down people. Another inversion is that unlike the main game and Breakdown, you don't start with no resources and slowly become powerful- you start with several powerful items in the beginning of the DLC, but slowly they go away as it continues. It also added new achievements, both for itself and for Breakdown.

State of Decay contains examples of:

  • A.K.A.-47: Most of the guns in the game use fictional names to various degrees. For example, Remington's firearms in-game follow the format of "(Model Number) Outdoor Occupation" (eg. Maya's Remington 750 is referred to as the "750 Forester). Most, if not all, of the Kalashnikov variants in the Assault Rifle category keep their names. Glocks are referred to as "G" then the number (G17 for the Glock 17, G19 for the Glock 19, etcetera).
  • Action Girl: Many of the female characters can be trained up to become this. Examples are Maya and Sam.
  • Action Survivor: Most characters don't have the Soldier/Police background.
  • Anyone Can Die: Only applies to the playable characters.
    • NPCs are usually unkillable, except in scripted events, such as Pastor Mulroney, who was infected and shot by Alan, who gets infected himself and has to be killed. Before their scripted deaths happen, they are all but invincible.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: In spite of Final Death usually happening from characters getting killed, the game will give you a break if your character falls to their death accidentally while away from zombies - the screen will fade to black but you'll then be back playing the same character with the game's state being alike to when they took their fall.
  • Armies Are Evil: Zig-zagged. The Army comes into the valley, but they are more interested in quarantining the area and investigating the source of the disease. They don't explain the situation to anyone, threaten to shoot those that tries to escape the valley and "squatters" (i.e loot live in others' house, regardless of the former occupant has been zombified or not). As it turns out, most of them are soldiers who are Just Following Orders. Sergeant Erik Tan, over the course of the game, decides to assist a family surrounded by zombies, against orders to stand down, provides the player with helpful aids even when he and his troops are abandoned themselves by the higher-ups (who pack up and leave town without warning), and finally did a Heroic Sacrifice to help everyone escape the valley.
    • Also given a lot of exploration in Lifeline where you ARE the army. Given that your orders are all about trying to find people who may be able to figure the zombie plague out, caring one way or the other about civilians is a distraction. You can go around saving them if you like, but you don't really get anything important for it. It definitely helps show why the military may have bigger concerns and need civilians to just stay out of the way.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Light machine guns and grenade launchers, both of which can obliterate entire hordes of zombies with ease and both of which are nearly useless due to ammo scarcity. Light machine guns eat up powerful rifle rounds that would be better used for Assault Rifles or hunting rifles. Grenade launcher ammo is so rare that the player is lucky to have gathered 20 rounds after finishing the entire game. They always spawn with a full magazine, so players can have some fun with them, before putting them in the locker for good. Also be careful if community members grab a Grenade Launcher, since they can easily kill the player or cars with splash damage.
    • The .50 cal anti-materiel rifles (Mk. 15 and M107 CQ). They can shred multiple zombies with one shot, and can down [1] with merely 4 headshots. They are also Too Awesome to Use, due to the scarcity of .50 cal rounds, and in the case of the M107, also extremely loud and cannot be suppressed. It gets even worse in the Breakdown DLC, where their weight are increased to 20 lbs, which means they instantly encumbered normal survivors, draining their Stamina even faster when they sprint.
    • Revolvers and revolver rifles are inherently awesome, and some have highest damage per shot with the appropriate specialization, just behind Grenade Launcher and .50 cal rifles. However, their loudness (they cannot be suppressed) and limited ammo capacity make them very risky to use.
  • Big Entrance: You can shoulder in the door or jump through a window to enter a building. The former is the only way to get through locked doors for most of the game without a character with the Ninja Special Technique requiring maxed out Wits, which causes locks to not exist when they open a door.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The remaining survivors are able to escape Trumbell County thanks to Tan's Heroic Sacrifice, but Lily has only months to live due to her lupus medicine becoming literally impossible to find, and the final scene heavily implies that Trumbull wasn't the only area to be infected with the Black Fever, as a city can be seen on the horizon.
    • The Lifeline DLC confirms the outbreak is not isolated to Trumbull Valley, but is global. Reports of outbreaks in Australia, Africa and Europe come in as the game progresses. Cities across the United States are also experiencing outbreaks, with the military being overwhelmed.
  • Boring, but Practical: A few of your facilities can be considered this. The kitchen have an option to increase your survivors' max Health and Stamina, as well as reduce the chance of food poisoning and/or spoilage. The Training Area gives Stamina bonus and help prevent injuries. The Infirmary help characters heal faster and prevent a sick character from infecting healthy ones. They are nothing fancy to look at, but surviving without them is going to be REALLY hard.
    • Assault rifles when firing in single shot mode. They have a combination of high accuracy, damage and large magazine size. It's more "fun" to go full-auto, but considering the scarcity of ammunition, sticking to the "boring" single shots will make your supply last much longer.
    • Some of the more mundane melee weapons are this. Sure you could be creative and beat zombies to death with a sawed off table leg or gardening hoe, or a medieval Mace. However, a solid steel wrench or pipe-wrench weigh less and is far more durable.
    • Snacks. Nothing fancy, just your average "Get out of a tight spot free" card. Pop one to refill your stamina and keep fighting, or sprint as far as you can.
  • Breakable Weapons: All your melee weapons eventually become damaged, and further hits with a damaged weapon will break it altogether. Damaged weapons are automatically repaired daily in any home base that has a workshop while a weapon that breaks from overuse is immediately removed from your inventory.
  • Bullet Time: Time briefly slows down when you dodge or are about to execute a zombie. Characters that have max Shooting level can choose the skill "Focus Aim" that slows down time for as long as their Stamina lasts.
  • Car Fu: You are welcome to use any working vehicle you find to run down the undead, though they will take damage and eventually become inoperable unless repaired regularly at your home. It's useful for wiping out a hoard or two if you have some way to repair it.
  • Cosmic Deadline: There is every indication that Undead Labs was forced to ship the game before finishing the third Act, such as the presence of a third town with no story sidequests or anything of particular interest, and the rushed feeling of the endgame quests.
  • Critical Hit: In blunt and heavy weapon, these instantly crushes zombies' head, while an edged weapon can decapitate. Specialization in each weapon type can increase critical chance.
  • Disaster Scavengers: This is what you do to survive.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: A somewhat indirect example. It could be a complete coincidence that the only police station in the game is directly adjacent to (or rather, attached to) a small donut shop. Could be.
  • Elite Zombie: The Screamer and Bloated zombies can tilt the odds against you, while the SWAT zombie's armour makes him a pain to kill with guns. Of all of them, though, Feral zombies and Big Bastards are easily the deadliest. Ferals are fast and can easily tear a survivor apart at low health, while Big Bastards are immensely tough to kill and deal massive damage to any vehicle that tries to run them down.
  • Escort Mission: a random type of mission quite commonly encountered. You need to escort someone to carry a resource to trade for another, or "rescue" and escort someone home. Unlike most examples of this trope, this kind of mission can be highly beneficial. Normally to get a survivor to accompany you, you need to spend 100 Influence, which is no small cost. When you get an Escort mission, however, you get a free zombie fodder that are quite capable at protecting themselves and protecting you, allowing you to clean houses, establish outposts and rack up kills to level up your stats and skills.
  • Final Death: Yep. No character is the 'main' one, and everyone who dies stays dead.
  • Finishing Move: You can do this to a knocked down zombie with a button combination. The animation is different depending on your weapon.
  • Gorn: The players can crush undead skull or liberate them from the zombie's neck with bladed weapons or one of the game's many firearms, in return player characters can get ripped in half by zombies.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: The Juggernaut/Big Bastard and Feral can do this to a survivor at low health, as can the normal zombies. It's rather unsettling to watch two zombies fighting over your corpse end up pulling you apart at the waist.
  • Have a Nice Death: Everytime the character that you control dies, you are treated to a lengthy scene of him/her getting clawed at, gnawed at, ripped in half and continued to be chewed on.
  • Heal Thy Self: Played straight. Health items can restore you to 100% health. There's an exception, though - when you take too much damage, you become injured, meaning your maximum health is reduced and you'll need to rest in an Infirmary to recover from the injury.
  • The Hero: The player can play as any group member and are encouraged to switch between characters to utilize their individual skills. However, the starting character Marcus Campbell is one of the most effective survivors, especially early on, and tend to be viewed as the main protagonist.
  • Heroic Second Wind: When your health is depleted, the screen turn black and white and you get the prompt Press B to get up. Press it fast enough and your character will stand up in a dramatic fashion, knocking down all zombies around, with his/her health and stamina restored to maximum (though this maximum is lower than normal, which can only be recovered by resting in an infirmary), allowing you to fight back or escape. However, Feral Zombies and Juggernauts can straight up execute downed characters no matter how fast you press the B button, resulting in an instant death.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Averted. Even with one of the rare silencers in-game that hasn't been jury-rigged out of a machine shop the silencers in this game generally only do what they would in the real world, slightly reducing the noise and removing the sharp *Crack* of gunfire. A .22 rifle being silenced will almost sound like the distinctive movie fwip while suppressing an AK-47 will only result in a slightly softer BANG. The trope is played completely straight in actual gameplay, however. So long as the weapon you're firing has a silencer attached, zombies will not react to it, even if it's a full sized .50 caliber sniper rifle being fired directly behind them.
  • Honor Before Reason: At the start of the game, while heading to the Church, Ed will say they need to tell Lily her dad's dead. Marcus will then remind ED that he was just bitten by a zombie, so if he wants to tell them before they heal him, the trio will likely be kicked out on their asses.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Unique example, but more or less in the spirit of the trope, having your character eat a Snack item will cause their stamina to temporarily regenerate very quickly.
  • Hyper Space Arsenal: Only averted with material rucksacks. Your weapons are seen when you use them, and disappear otherwise.
  • Jerk Ass Has A Point: A subtle Meta example, so subtle that it seems unintentional. Alan Gunderson is presented by the game as a cold-hearted and ruthlessly practical survivor (he judges fellow survivors based on how useful they are with a weapon). Then many players picked up the habit of killing off useless survivors to save food and ammo, or make room for more "useful" ones.
  • The Juggernaut: Guess who
  • Karma Meter: Come in three flavors, Influence (that are replacement for cash), Ally Trust (those who are "friend" become playable) and Neighbor Trust (items bought at their supply locker cost less and they can eventually join you when you raise their trust to full).
  • Kill It with Fire: Molotov Cocktail and Flame Fougasse are both effective against zombies. The latter makes fighting Juggernaut a lot safer.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: when the zombies are hit by cars or explosives.
  • Made of Plasticine: Zombie heads will burst every time you use an insta-kill attack on them. Doubly so when you use a car: just being lightly touched by an open car door can potentially gib a zombie.
  • More Dakka: There are 99 guns in the game. Each one looks differently, has its own stats. Stats that were painstakingly calculated from data taken from real world experience, police and military consultation, firearm reviews and magazines. Why only 99? "99 was the number we had done the day they told me to stop adding guns.". And in the Breakdown DLC, they added a few dozen more guns.
  • New Game+: The "Breakdown" mode, in a sense. There is no longer a storyline, only the player's community trying to survive for as long as possible. The player must locate and RV somewhere and repair it. After that, the player can choose 6 characters to advance to the next level, where they keep their entire equipment, the entire map resets, all containers become lootable again, the zombies become more dangerous and vehicles gets fewer.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: A combination of the plague and flesh eating types, although they aren't the slow and limping type, they can run, tackle you, climb stairs, ladders and fences, bust through doors and windows, etc.
  • Press X to Not Die: A few occasion where you need to shake off zombies or are near death.
  • Put Their Heads Together: characters with Powerhouse trait can choose the skill "Double Kill" which does exactly this.
  • Random Drops: Each type of container has a list of items that can spawn in. When the player searches, a number is "roll" and determine what item (if any) they can find. The item list is specific to the kind of container in question. For example, a Rifle case in a Military Stash has a different item list than a Rifle case in a Police Station.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: Ammo, food, construction supplies, weapons, etc.; anything and everything can run out if you're not careful. You also have a limited amount of storage space for the things you find while scavenging, and bigger packs of supplies need to be carried back to a home base or broken apart for salvage. Vehicles can help alleviate some of these problems, but they too have limited space. Safehouses need to be kept supplied to be functional, as well as upgraded to fit your needs.
  • RPG Elements: Characters have base stats, and can upgrade their abilities through use and training.
  • Save Scumming: The game only has an auto-save feature, but it certainly doesn't stop someone from backing up and reloading the save file before searching. It is much more time consuming and tedious than with the usual quick-save/quick load, though.
  • Scavenger World: Scavenging is the primary means of getting new stuff.
  • Spin Attack: Characters with Heavy Weapon specialization can choose this skill, which knocks down all zombies around.
  • Sequel Hook: At the end of the game, a city can be seen on the horizon (and is also visible from the dam in the northern part of the game). It is possible future games or DLC will be set there.
    • Proved true with the Lifeline DLC, which is set in that very city. The Trumbull survivors are going to be unhappy when they learn just how easy they had it in there.
  • Shout-Out: Many, often poking fun at other zombie-related franchises. The game wiki has its own page for these.
    • The Walking Dead': There is a potential community site in Spencer's Mill (the first town) called the Kirkman Residence, a reference to Walking Dead'' creator Robert Kirkman. There also posters in Spencer's Mill that say "Richard Grimes for Sheriff", a reference to protagonist Rick Grimes.
    • Zombieland: The achievement "Rule #1" is a reference to "Rule #1: Cardio", an essential skill to avoiding zombie hordes. "Gotta Enjoy the Little Things" is earned by doing a Toyota Tripwire, a move Tallahassee loved doing in the film and the quote itself being his advice to Columbus.
    • Plants vs Zombies: In a backyard near the church in the first town, a series of lawnmowers and dead zombies is arranged in a reference to the game.
    • Evil Dead: Outside the city of Marshall is a sign saying "Campbell's Used Autos", a reference to Bruce Campbell who portrayed Ash Williams in the Evil Dead series.
    • The achievement for self-sacrifice is called "Ya Always Were An Asshole, Gorman!", a direct quote from Aliens.
    • The Simpsons: "Everything's coming up Milhouse!"
    • Breaking Bad: If your safe house has a research room and an infirmary, you can update it to a medical lab and create "potent stims." When your mission control suggests this, she says: "...not that I intend to break bad on you, but I think it could help us."
      • Before even starting it, the description for the action is "Heisenberg would be proud".
  • Soft Glass: Played completely straight. If a quick escape from a building is necessary, characters can effortlessly throw themselves through a window and land outside with nary a scratch...or just when you don't want to over to the door.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Jacob Ritter and Eli Wilkerson. Both their families disapproves of their relationship (though for different reasons). Then Eli gets killed by zombies. Poor Jacob can't catch a break.
  • Stealth-Based Game: Being able to move quietly is useful for lower level characters. Searching around for stuff can make noise, too, unless you take it slowly. You'll definitely need to crouch in bushes and whatnot to hide from roaming hordes.
  • Taking You with Me: companion characters that have lost all health (i.e before they get ripped in half like the player character) can pull a grenade from Hyper Space Arsenal and blow themselves up. Player-controlled characters can do this too, if they have a grenade/molotov cocktail equipped. In fact, in Breakdown mode, dying like this is required to unlock a Hero character.
  • Timed Mission: Non-story missions are generated randomly and only last a given amount of time. Failing to complete them can cause you to lose trust in your community, fellow survivors to die, cause the (limited) number of recruitable NPC's to dwindle and die or cost you valuable resources.
  • Toyota Tripwire: Door hits are instant kills in return for taking very minimal damage to your vehicle.
  • Universal Ammunition: Due to memory limitation and game balancing, many types of ammo of similar calibers in real life are grouped into one. For example, the 7.62mm round in the game represents many different calibers such as .30-06, .300 Win Mag, 7.62x39mm and .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO. This is pointed out in the description for the 7.62mm and 5.56mm, noting that they represent "caliber families". This is also the reason why some weapons don't use their proper chambering. For example, the Glock 20 10mm pistol is re-chambered in-game to use .45 ACP. The devs simply can't add any more ammo types. The game briefly handwaves this by describing each type of ammo as a "Family of calibers", not a single caliber.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can rescue survivors and integrate them into your community, build trust with other groups, and in general prove that you've retained your humanity even when most everyone else is no longer human.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: On the other hand, as noted in Jerkass Has a Point, players can be ruthlessly pragmatic, killing off survivors that won't aid their community.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Want to clear a house and scavenge for supplies? Clear a zombie infestation? Check out a rumor of survivors? Advance the main story? It's all good. However, given many activities are on a timer, there's a distinct disadvantage to carelessly goofing about and ignoring every mission request.
  • Zerg Rush: A favored tactic of the zombies, of course. Zombie hoards use this as a mechanic, being a cluster of zombies (at least eight) that travel as a pack.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Very heavily implied. The extent is unknown, but Trumbull Valley is completely overrun.
    • If the game's codename Class3 is anything to go by, then that's probably the extent of the apocalypse. The planned MMO is codenamed Class4.
      • Could be a reference to The Zombie Survival Guide. Class 3 outbreaks involve thousands of zombies across a state or region... Class 4 involve millions over a continent or planet.
    • Confirmed in Lifeline. You get reports from throughout the Americas from as far afield as Toronto and Caracas and a Hawai'ian squad member comments that all contact with the islands has been lost.
  • Zombie Gait: Depends on the zombie. The weaker ones plod along and can be kept at bay just by walking. Tougher ones can sprint nearly as fast as a player character, and some can outrun the player even at full sprint.
  • Zombie Infectee: Done non-conventionally. Zombie bites are survivable if treated soon enough, but if left untreated they do eventually result in death and reanimation (although it's not specified the extent to which the zombies are a specific disease, versus simply causing non-supernatural fatal infections due to being rotting corpses.)

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