It’s quite possible that this game, State of Decay, is simply not for me. Normally I like a zombie apocalypse or two, but this one has two features that make it difficult to like.
One is permadeath, even though it is just the kind that makes you switch characters. I must have killed a few hundred zombies and convinced myself of my general competence before one uber-powerful one came out of nowhere and kicked my ass. It was nothing I could have prepared for. Maybe it was realistic, but not fun. Sadistic, really. Why continue? I was sort of attached already to my character and his cheap death didn’t exactly win me over.
Two is offline death, where characters die and resources dwindle while you’re not playing the game. This was even more insult to injury. I am lucky enough to have a job and a life; I can’t babysit a game. I’m lucky these days to play on weekends. I’m already addicted to caffeine. I need something I can play, then stop, and return to, as I see fit, without randomized penalties.
A game that did permadeath pretty well in single player PC in recent memory was XCOM. That game allowed saving and loading, there was no offline deaths and draining of resources, and death still mattered. (And they did it turn-based, too! Kudos!)
Why can’t State of Decay manage the same? I can understand why the developers made these two decisions – there are plenty of young, masochistic gamers out there who will replay a game again and again after a largely randomized death. What to me is crummy design is to them a badge of realism. I’m older, more temperate, and have less time on my hands, alas.
What particularly frustrates me, if it is not already clear, is that I would like to play more of the game. I really would. I would like to work around its weaknesses and derive enjoyment from it. But I can’t justify the attempt, and that makes me conflicted – again, not something I want in a game.