Edit with the new update: It's a sketchy decision to overhaul the difficulty and functions after the 'full-release'. Neither does this update solve the central issues with the flow of the game, but at least it is half-a-step in the right direction.
It's one thing to have a great idea, concept, and writer,
It's another thing to cut your development roadmap short with what you once called "placeholders" now becoming the "final product".
My review for this game was once positive, however with their extremely underwhelming March update (which was extremely late to the party) it is clear that the developers are pretty much done with the game. And what they left everyone with was not a fully fleshed-out concept that everybody thought was amazing. Sure, they might do another patch or two, but they likely won't meet up with the picture they painted for the game a long time ago.Why I regret my investment into it's early access:
I thought it was a mistake when I looked at the store page and saw that it was out of early access, but apparently, it wasn't.
You see, the game was nowhere near a final release when they started saying it was going to leave 'early access', and neither the appropriate polish nor needed changes/fixes had happened at that point.
I let it slide because a "big update" was planned, except said update was really just some "UI" features and bug fixes. Pathfinding, which has been rough and improperly done since long before the "official release"
is still completely mucked up even after the "huge" march update.
The game still looks unpolished. It still plays and feels like an unfinished game. The animations lack content. Enemies with over-used models. The vast majority of NPCs you interact with don't even have names, and are stuck with "Looter" and "Survivor" as if the devs planned on going in there later and changing them.
They removed the 'cure' ending entirely on the grounds of "It would have been too much work to get it going" despite having the characters involved extremely hype this idea to you as an achievable goal already in the game. They also took 'balance' as a reason to write it off, which doesn't make sense since it was originally an ending. Also, you and I both know that an ending was your original intention. That objective was widely regarded as an ending well before it was scrapped. So using "it was never intended to be an ending" as an excuse was extremely sleazy.
And what did the game do to off it? Replaced some text. Threw in an apology from one of the NPCs for getting hopes up. I have several science buffs (including the immunologist) and medical professionals who showed interest in the subject of a cure, and you're telling me that a paragraph of text somehow makes up for one of the most anti-climatic story checkpoints in gaming history, all because the developers didn't want to do the work to get it working properly (or add in a scene where the cure fails and all hope is lost) for that matter.
Let me put it this way, you said you were selling an exotic sports car, so I bought into it.
However when you ripped off the cover and revealed the 90's Mazda Miata beneath it, you covered my mouth before I could yell. You told me "this is just what it is now, we will replace it with a new Ferrari Hypercar down the line".
However when you said "It's ready" down the line, I was worried because I had seen them rolling that same car into the shop every day for the past six months. But I trusted you, I genuinely thought the full release was as big as you made it.
And then the cover got lifted again, and under that cover was a 90's Mazda Miata with a spoiler, pair of stripes down the middle, some performance parts and rims. No hypercar, just an upgraded 90's Miata.
And because it's been made clear that the cure is never going to come back, and no major game-changing developments will be happening anythime soon, it shows how little the developers actually care since they slapped a "good to go" sticker on it and sent it out of their door.
When you see early screens of the game, you see people sitting in stools in the lab, tinkering with machines, while a character flings her arms up in the air while raging about somebody being a problem. You see characters moving their arms as they talk, showing emotion. You see life. You see a game where you can show what's happening to a friend and they will understand what is going on in the scene without you explaining it.
That's not the game now at all. Everything is lifeless. Sloppy idle animations never made it past it's adjective I just applied. Everything relating to emotion and conditions was reduced to text and labels. Even in the very minor "live-action" parts of the turn based game, it still feels like it's turn-based because everything is still attatched to their depth-lacking animations and use of the tile system.The actual game
I'm going to summarize this to boot.
Obvious pros and cons:
+Awesome, in-depth characters.
-turn-based gameplay is clunky
-Lack of polish
-Broken story events that don't recognize a previous descision when it should
-Lack of attention to various characters (Jodie Hopkins as an example)
-Extremely empty list of events in the bit of time before the endgame
=Long storyline (but didn't have the intensity to match the hours it takes)
=Mediocre amount of weapons and content to use outside of characters
=questlines can have a lot of detail and options, but on the flipside, some don't
What I factor in when I write my reviews is the question of if I genuinely recommend this to somebody, would they enjoy it?
To answer that question, the said person would have to enjoy turn-based games, and they would also have to appreciate good characters and writing.
However they would also have to deal with the fact that some mid-game characters don't get in-depth development, the game lacks a lot of polish despite a long time in early access, the pricetag that is debatably not worth it, some obvious bugs and story holes and some glitchy questlines.
A lot of other turn-based titles have more polished and simplified gameplay. Even though Dead State had a champion writer, it still can be said that the flaws override the good.
And that is why I don't think I would recommend it.
Writing and concept was great, hower it was the clunky execution, lack of proper dev attention to well-noted problems, unbalanced features and lack of streamline-polish that ruined it for me.
This game is the poster child for products that spread themselves too thin. I understand that exit-stage early access titles are almost never as good as they made them hyped at the start of development, but this is well beyond "just scrapped ideas". While I found the characters and choices entertaining, literally everything else felt extremely under-developed and nowhere near completion.
That's my blunt review for now.