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State of Decay: Lifeline (Video Game)

The Expansion to the Original State of Decay Video Game

Score 10/10 - A Masterpiece

Posted by Anthony DeRouen | March 23rd, 2023

State of Decay: Lifeline is the second DLC for State of Decay. It was released 30th May 2014.

Welcome to the first edition of the Death Parade Film Fest video game series reviews. First up is an open-world survival horror game called State of Decay: Lifeline. The parent game, State of Decay broke new ground for fledging studio Undead Labs in 2013. The game was a smash hit for Undead Labs and it's partner Microsoft Studios. You might be wondering why I'm talking about State of Decay's DLC and not the main component. Simply put: zombie horror hadn't been done before to this degree.

State of Decay developers, when speaking about the military's usual role in the zombie apocalypse, said they are “the hammer to which every problem is a nail, blindly mowing everything down to serve some unknown goal. But this view is fairly one-sided and naïve”. With the Lifeline expansion, they are sought to change this.

“On the State of Decay team, we have a different perspective (some of us firsthand) — the military is made up of many good men and women who stand on the line that divides safety and civilization from chaos and war. Few people have a greater opportunity to make life-altering choices than soldiers. They’ve played that role as side characters in the original State of Decay…but now we are adding a new story, in which you take on that responsibility yourself.”

This couldn't be any more rooted in truth. One simply has to watch George Romero's take in Day of the Dead (1985) to see how the grandfather of zombie horror looked upon the military when faced with an impossible task. 28 Weeks Later (2007), The Crazies (2010), World War Z (2013) will all leave you with the indelible impression the military will not going to save your ass. In fact, your ass is pretty much toast, or chow, or both.

Undead Labs flipped the script in State of Decay: Lifeline.

You're put in charge of an Army outfit that just got the shit kicked out of it, and you're job is to pick up the pieces and form up some semblance of order. There are soldiers and outposts scattered about that require saving, civilians trapped in homes, and headquarters still has a list of critical missions you need to carry out before you can call an extraction.

Your LZ (or landing zone) is a makeshift camp protected by a flimsy fence and two guard towers. These defenses will not hold on their own, but that's where the fun begins. Your rank and file are determined to not only stay and help who they can, but improve the camp's tactical situation. Like in State of Decay you can build out the base in a number of ways. Gather enough materials to build a workshop to churn out bullets, or an infirmary to treat the injured. As you venture into the zombie-infested cities on supply runs and critical tasks you'll pick up soldiers who fall in line and defend the camp to the bitter end.

The voice-over dialogue is poignant. Soldiers argue about their merits of their efforts, and provide commentary on new events. Since this is an open world design you're free to move about the map and do what you want. A word of caution: there are consequences. While taking damage from zombies doesn't turn you into a shambling horror, enough damage can injure a player, or result in death which is not reversible. Once a lieutenant is killed it's the next man (or woman) up.

There's a fair amount of role-play that can be found here. You can play the dutiful solder and stick to the critical tasks, or you can stick your neck on the line and rescue as many civilians as your can. The game rewards the player with supplies and intangible moral boosts for those who put others above themselves.

As far as the gameplay, if you played State of Decay you can expect the same in Lifeline. Targeting is well-done, the action can be frenetic and injured characters will show blood on their uniforms. The DLC is not without is bugs: the map will sometimes jar itself free of its module and become useless, zombies will appear out of thin air, soldiers will draw and stash their sidearm repeatedly in the face of zombies, Army trucks will hit a corner barrier and flip over in comical fashion.

The array of weapons in Lifeline is standout. There's a wide range of pistols, shotguns, rifles and machine guns. While it may be enticing to mow down zombies with a fully loaded Skorpion Evo ammunition costs reputation points and those come at a premium. Hint: go for the Micro Dynamic Rifle Scoped.

You can deal with these bugs because they are not showstoppers. Annoying yes, but nothing a restart can never fix.

The scoreboard system is a nice touch for players. Do well and you're ranked amongst your peers. Currently I'm ranked 9th for total civilian rescues. On a sad note: Nexus Mods was an excellent source of modifications to further tailor Lifeline to your liking. New clothes for army pukes, radioing for supplies didn't have a reputation price tag and who wouldn't have liked fighting against an endless, overwhelming swarm of physics defying zombies? Alas, we are left with the base DLC, however it's still a fun romp through and through.

Want to learn more visit Lifeline's Steam page here.

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