Initial Impressions: Seven Days of Dead State

The world of Dead State is dangerous, the undead populate the streets everywhere you go.
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In Dead State’s 7 Day Demo you play as Brian DoubleBear, one of the few survivors of a plane crash in the fictional town of Splendid, Texas.  You awaken after receiving medical attention from your new-found companions,a local school is now your shelter. There your companions remind you of the recent plague outbreak, and they tell you that people who die from the fatal virus will rise from the dead with a hunger for human flesh.  The world has changed drastically in the few weeks your character lay unconscious and you will have little time to adjust as Dead State thrusts you right into your first mission.

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A Tale Worth Telling…..Again

The story in Dead State is standard fare for the genre.  The characters introduced in the demo could be found in any b-movie title at your local video store but each one fulfills a necessary role.  Joel is a member of local law enforcement, and he is the only character skilled in the use of firearms.  Renée is the innocent veterinarian student who acts as the group’s healer.  Anita is Renee’s over-bearing mother, a tough truck driver, who really packs a punch in melee combat.

Even though your character is a stranger you will almost immediately assume the leadership role among this group of survivors, making you responsible for their needs and their lives.  Keeping this group alive means keeping your shelter stocked with the necessities.  This is the driving force behind the game, to keep your people alive you must venture out into the wasteland of Central Texas.

The story in Dead State does enough to set up a back drop for the world you play in.  The narrative neither advances nor adds to the conventions of the zombie genre.  The developers played it safe with the story sticking to ‘Romero’ style clichés when crafting their zombie tale.  Fans of the pulp fiction zombie films and the ’80s b-movie industry will find these conventions nostalgic and enjoyable. 

The game delivers the story via text, during conversations with other characters.  These conversations give the player information about the game world.  They also make you aware of potential quests that you can fulfill.  The game at this early stage is combat focused, but players should still be prepared to sift through screen after screen of text before venturing out into the post-apocalyptic Central Texas.

The Tools of the Trade

Your party will travel the landscape via the overland map.  The travel is open-ended allowing players to explore the map, the game marks locations you can visit on the map with icons.  Hardware stores, restaurants and police station all have the items you would expect to find, making logical decisions when choosing where to scavenge will be very helpful.

The world of Dead State is dangerous, the undead populate the streets everywhere you go.  Combat is unavoidable in the game and happens often.  Combat in Dead State is turn-based, using an initiative cycle to determine the order of action.  The combat system is standard for a western tactical RPG. Characters will have a number of “action points” derived from their stats, players will use these action points during their turn to move and perform attacks.  

Characters can perform a good variety of attacks depending on their attributes and their weapon type.  You can perform special melee attacks, to increase damage or to apply ‘debuffs’ to enemies.  At this early stage of development a few of the special melee attacks do not function and result in a loss of AP with no action performed.  Firearms have the advantage of range, but lack any secondary effect on the target.  These weapons are also noisy and will attract unwanted attention to your party.  If that isn’t bad enough shotguns and pistols are not well-balanced with melee weapons; providing only slightly more damage to compensate for their undesirable effects.

The enemies in the 7 day demo lack variation, but, offer an entertaining challenge.  The obvious enemies are the animated corpses that shamble through the games many locations in search of flesh to feast on.  The zombie threat in this game is actually minimal.  Characters can handle zombies with relative ease even in the early stages of the game.  The zombie threat is in their numbers, attract a large pack of the undead and things could get out of control very fast.  Looters and bandits on the other hand are comparable to your group.  These are fast-moving intelligent humans that are competing in a deadly game with your survivors to claim resources.  The looters and bandits carry weapons and will attack on site.  Combat in Dead State is accessible, deep, and provides a good challenge.  Dead State forces the character to weigh the pros and cons before charging into battle.

Combat isn’t the only obstacle that your survivors will face.  Your survivors will require food and medicine to stay alive.  The game also features a moral system which rewards you for keeping your survivors happy as well as healthy.  You will manage the strategic elements of the game at the shelter.  unfortunately, at this early stage in development, there are only a few options available

Drop Dead Gorgeous?

Dead State is a fair looking game.  The game’s environments are nicely detailed.  The game world’s visuals accurately reflect the Central Texas location.  The visuals also do a good job of immersing you in a world that recently fell apart.  Abandoned cars litter the city and suburban areas.  Store interiors are in shambles with products scattered in the isles.  Ominous messages are scrawled on the exterior of buildings and houses.  Dead State won’t win any beauty contests but it does have a certain charm and shows the developers paid attention to the details.  On the down side Dead State has limited character models.  At times Dead State can make you feel like you’re are fighting a series of clones rather than the recently deceased.  The visual presentation in Dead State adds to the experience, but does have some rough spots.

Early Access Final Thoughts

Dead State is right where it needs to be in this early stage of development, promising, but incomplete.  Double Bear productions is taking the road less travelled through the over-crowded zombie apocalypse genre.  Combining strategy, resource management, RPG elements and turned-based combat into one interesting package. The combat system is strong, but there are still bugs that need fixing.  The developers have not yet implemented character creation or character progression, which are two mechanics that will help decide this games success as a RPG.  Also, only about 10% of the strategic options at the game’s shelter are enabled.  The story in the game is nothing original, but it does enough to welcome you into the sandbox style play.  The characters might be a bit forgettable, but they are still useful party members and they may just grow on you as time goes.

 If you are searching for a new approach to Zombie games this early access is worth a look.  The portion of the game that is complete is well made.  Most importantly, the gameplay is enjoyable despite the flaws.  Fans of tactical RPG’s should definitely keep an eye on this games development.  If Dead State can correct the few bugs in the combat system, while adding strong RPG and strategic elements, this will be a Zombie game that you won’t want to miss.

Initial Impressions: Seven Days of Dead State
The world of Dead State is dangerous, the undead populate the streets everywhere you go.

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Recently resurrected in the world of PC gaming through the power of my first homemade gaming rig.