I am obsessed with this game and I'm not entirely sure why.
When looking for a game to play, I personally search for three very specific things. Firstly, I want to be presented with a set of options that potentially change the entire way the game is played. Secondly, I want to be able to control multiple characters, while still retaining a main character role, and lastly I want said characters to be in a survival-esque situation or dilemma. For me, this game ticks all the boxes.
In a nutshell, Dead State feels like a more strategic form of The Walking Dead by Telltale Games, and also the TV series episodes, in that its your job to keep safe a bunch of survivors stuck in a zombie apocalypse. Unlike The Walking Dead, however, wherein you are almost certain that someone is going to die and you're going to be left with one, maybe two survivors, that same theory is never in concrete in Dead State. Someone could die at any minute, and it could be any of your survivors, including you. If you're sensible and strict, you can manage to avoid deaths entirely, but the potential is there, and that's what makes it all the more fun.
Dead State also has a great variety of salvageable items, dropped from both zombies or other hostile survivors, or found from things that you yourself can imagine searching for if there was a real zombie apocalypse. Suggestions that your fellow survivors make are also logical ones too. For instance, in games such as Left 4 Dead and Contagion, the idea of going to places like a hospital or train station or coastline is all too familiar and accepted - Dead State eschews that principle. Being stuck in central Texas instantly eliminates the idea of sensibly heading to the coast to get away from big cities, like many other games would (I refer to both Left 4 Dead and its sequel as an example), but the survivors directly tell you why going to places like hospitals, clinics, supermarkets and the like is quite simply a waste of time
Each and every survivor to you is as dynamic and unique as they are important. What I mean by this is that the plethora of people you will come across truly are different in every way. From flight attendants to former cops, from veterinary students, the mentally and
physically handicapped, and every other minority in between. As diverse as they all are, they all have a certain role to play at your shelter (which is a now heavily barricaded school by the time you've arrived). From nursing the sick to fixing the fridges, you get to choose who does what for how long and when. As of the time of writing, Dead State keeps things standard by allowing a venturing party of yourself and three other members of your shelter to head out into the great outdoors in search of supplies, but all the other survivors will be busy doing things that you've allocated them to do. To me, this feels like a real sense of teamwork and feels quite rewarding when something gets done right and progress is made.
Team fights are a very basic turn-based system using action points that vary from character to character depending on their stats and other attributes (think Divinity: Original Sin as a prime example). Though at this stage in development, hacking down a zombie with a sledgehammer isn't too hard to do, the real threat thus far is other humans. Some have responded to this in the community hub with great negativity, but I find it makes only too much sense. After all, if there really were a zombie apocalypse, I'd fear humans more than the zombies. We know from games like The Walking Dead and Dead Island that the more dangerous threat is
other humans. Let's face it: they panic, they have no idea who to trust and why, they move faster, and they still have the capacity to use a gun. Dead State makes all of these clear to you, for truly when you see another hostile survivor on the map and turn-based combat starts, you do need to think very carefully about what to do because even one angry gunman can turn your entire survival situation upside down.
I won't say the game is without its faults, it certainly isn't. The game is still in beta though, so you certainly have to give leeway for that. The game is peppered with lots of tiny errors (which I'm sure can be rectified quite simply) and a great deal of content has yet to be added, but the development team are quick to respond to issues and are very good with their communication to their community, which is always an added bonus. In-game content doesn't avoid controversy either, they don't shy away from real-world issues that would occur during a cataclysm like the plot, such as racism, murder, betrayal, religion, same-sex relations, disability and others, which, while risky is also quite a breath of fresh air.
Ultimately, if you're looking for a game that gives you the flexibility to be in charge, while retaining a challenging experience to keep not just yourself, but others with you alive, with great versatility and variation, Dead State should definitely be added to your library. Dead State is a unique game among its genre, but one that works in a really good way. If you have reservations about Dead State and questions regarding its current gameplay that you don't feel have been adequately answered by anything you've seen or read, I'd be happy to answer them for a game I feel so positive about.
For those that teal deered: 9/10.- - - - - UPDATE: v. 1.0.0 (4th Dec 2014) - - - - -
This will be a lot more brief than the content above mentioned at the end of October, but as Dead State is now fully released and out of beta, it seems only fair that you know what's changed in the last month and a bit. Truly? Quite a bit. I'll list the greatest first.
For starters, all of the unfinished crap that you could find when travelling around on the map (i.e., accidentally finding a completely empty location with just the shell of a building) are completely finished. This might sound like a quite obvious one, but there were a lot of these locations, so it's pleasantly surprising to see that they are all complete and weren't just scrapped and removed. Often, you could be travelling in a party of four and all of a sudden, three more of your survivors who you left at base would pop up out of nowhere and also be there. Though it wasn't necessarily a bad thing to have 7 of your people running around with you (especially in combat, it was quite nice to exploit), it wasn't how the game was meant to be played, and honestly, having more survivors with you will only cause problems.
One of the three main commodities in Dead State, fuel (the other two being parts and food), can be very hard to come by. That being said, there was no way for you to turn off your shelter's generator if you didn't particularly need it burning your fuel. In the Dead State community, this caused a bit of an uproar as it simply drained people's fuel that they wanted to use for other projects. That being said, Double Bear clearly noticed that this was an issue, listened to its players, and now the ability to turn it off is functional.
The artwork of all characters have been updated too, and their portraits are now much larger. Not a huge issue, but it does make it look much better, and aesthetics do count to a lot of gamers. That being said, it ties in with the fact that a lot of characters received updates to their personal perks (a lot like talents in World of Warcraft or Divinity: Original Sin, for ease of explanation).
Back in October I mentioned that there was nothing stopping you from equipping yourself with the best shotgun and the strongest hammer in the game and just smashing your way through - so they've added skill requirements to all weapons to prevent this! Though it may not seem like a lot, it does prevent you from giving your wispy little doctor a giant railroad hammer.
Unfortunately, I ran out of space but thank you for reading!