Since I first heard about Dead State, the brain child (BRAINSSSS!!!) of former Black Isle/Troika/Obsidian devs Brian and Annie Mistoda, I’ve been interested in seeing what would become of this so-called “zombie survival RPG.” Zombies have been done to death (pun unintended), we all know this, but there are good ideas to be had from even the most overmined tropes and a game that’s about the relationships and politics of survival in a zombie apocalypse is right in my wheelhouse. That it looks Fallout (as in Fallout 1) inspired doesn’t hurt either. There hasn’t been much news on the Dead State front since RPS profiled it ages and ages ago, so I’ve begun to doubt whether or not this one would see the light of day, but the team is apparently still alive and kicking and they’re now the latest indie project to launch a Kickstarter campaign – one that’s already gotten two-thirds of its $150k funding target. (There’s also a fresh RPS interview with the Mitsoda clan.) The money is said to go towards bringing more of the team into the project full-time, though there’s no ETA on a final product.
If you’re interested in learning more (for what it’s worth, I’m giving to this one), check out the Kickstarter page. Here’s a quick synopsis of what the game intends to offer:
This is your story – you’re the leader and it’s up to you to force the lucky, the traumatized, and the selfish to work together for weeks and months after society has collapsed. Zombies are the least of your problems – you need to keep morale high, mouths fed, and your shelter safe. You will lose people. You will make enemies. You will have to make tough decisions. And you might not make it.
-A PC RPG with stats, skills, and perks that make a huge difference on your character’s abilities.
-Dozens of characters with branching, reactive dialogue, and randomized events that unfold over months of in-game time – player decisions and the death of loved ones can change relationships drastically.
-Turn-based combat where line-of-sight and noise affect whether you are spotted or not, making for extremely tense encounters.
-Base-building mechanics featuring multiple upgrades, NPC jobs, and item manufacturing.
-Scavenging mechanics that require players to find supplies, weapons, armor, and other items to keep their allies fed and alive.
-A morale system that factors in player success/failure, allies’ faith in the player, and the overall strength of the shelter.
-Crisis Event dialogues that factor in political maneuvering and making difficult choices that affect your whole shelter.
-Reactive AI that responds realistically to combat situations, player commands, and the state of panic from the presence of zombies.
In all honesty, of all the games to which I’ve given a serious look on Kickstarter, this one is probably the most likely to come out an absolute mess. These kinds of RPGs are hard to do and, although the pedigree on the team is relatively strong, its a pedigree with a history of buggy releases and the footage they’ve show so far is a bit rough. I doubt going the indie route makes a finely-polished release more likely. Nonetheless, this is the kind of game I want to see more of and I’d love to see it succeed.