I grab a few supplies from the little resources we have. A few spare bullets, just enough gas to get me back home, a few bandages just in case. That’s all I’m willing to risk losing, if the worst happens. If I go down, I want my camp to have enough resources left to go on without me. I could be selfish and grab everything we have to ensure my survival, but survival is never guaranteed in this world.
State of Decay 2 is the only zombie game I have ever played where I have to think like I’m actually surviving in the apocalypse. Every resource I take, decision I make, bullet I use, can be the reason I survived, or the reason I didn’t.
In State of Decay 2, you control a camp of survivors who are all randomly generated. Each survivor has their own personality traits, skills, weaknesses, needs, and wants. The game is like if the sims and a zombie apocalypse intertwined. There are systems on top of systems on top of systems. Everything is simulated, characters will get into arguments, characters will go hungry and become upset. If you do something for another character their mood will improve, if you do something they don’t approve of they will not like it and let you know about it. Everything matters.
The entire objective of the game is to survive to the next day. To some players that may be frustrating. Some players may want a clear cut objective and to see their characters make it to an end and live happily ever after. That’s not this game.
A good way to explain this game is playing wack a mole. You’re always trying to knock out a problem. You’re taking a request from someone to make them happy, you’re clearing out an infestation to improve camp morale, you’re helping a local camp to improve your standing with them. In one instance you’re improving your camp so that everyone is happier, the next instance you’re driving your car with barely enough gas to claim a new location as your own. As soon as you think you’ve done everything, a new challenge arrives.
It sometimes feels like there’s never going to be an end. No matter what I do, there’s always more. I can have a great day. A day in which I completed everything I set out to do, I made everyone happy, I found a lot of resources. But the next morning, there’s another infestation, more work to do, more resources I need. New problems arise like clockwork, there’s never an end to this apocalypse. From my vantage point, it’s what makes State of Decay 2 the best zombie apocalypse game ever made. In the best zombie fiction, it’s not about finding the cure to save the world, or everyone living happily ever after. It’s about the minutiae, the moment to moment. It’s about seeing the sunrise and the sunset and knowing you had a productive day.
Nothing is ever fine in this world. You never feel like you have everything under control. It’s a feeling of helplessness that I’ve never felt in a game before. But it’s a helplessness that pushes me to tackle every day as an opportunity to make things better, even if it’s only by a small percentage.
State of Decay 2 is the zombie apocalypse game I’ve always wanted. It isn’t about power, mowing down tons of zombies or wearing funny outfits. It’s about moving the ball down an infinite field. I can’t see an end or a way out of this world. So in that case, I’ll keep my head up, goals in mind, to survive another day.