Dead State

Last updated
Dead State
Dead State logo.jpg
Dead State game logo
Developer(s) DoubleBear Productions
Iron Tower Studio
Publisher(s) DoubleBear Productions
Producer(s) Christina Ramey
Designer(s) Brian Mitsoda
Annie Mitsoda
Programmer(s) Nick Skolozdra
Jonathan Chan
Artist(s) Oscar Velzi
Writer(s) Brian Mitsoda
Annie Mitsoda
Composer(s) Lena Chappelle
Engine Torque 3D
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
  • WW: December 4, 2014 (2014-12-04)

  • WW: May 13, 2015 (2015-05-13)
Genre(s) Role-playing, survival horror
Mode(s) Single-player video game   Blue pencil.svg

Dead State is a turn-based survival horror role-playing video game developed by DoubleBear Productions and Iron Tower Studio set in a zombie apocalypse scenario. Players are tasked with leading a group of survivors living in a shelter in the fictional town of Splendid, Texas. [1] Dead State was released in December 2014 after having been in Early Access since spring of that year. DoubleBear Productions continued to work on the title and in May 2015 released an "enhanced edition" which changed the name to Dead State: Reanimated. [2]

Survival horror is a subgenre of video games inspired by horror fiction that focuses on survival of the character as the game tries to frighten players with either horror graphics or scary ambience. Although combat can be part of the gameplay, the player is made to feel less in control than in typical action games through limited ammunition, health, speed and vision, or through various obstructions of the player's interaction with the game mechanics. The player is also challenged to find items that unlock the path to new areas and solve puzzles to proceed in the game. Games make use of strong horror themes, like dark maze-like environments and unexpected attacks from enemies.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

DoubleBear Productions

DoubleBear Productions is an indie game studio founded in June 2009 by writer and game designer Brian Mitsoda.



Dead State splits its time between scavenging - where the player explores the environment for food, fuel, luxury items, medical supplies, and antibiotics - and base management back at the Shelter - assigning jobs, building upgrades, creating items, and interacting with fellow survivors. Standard action in Dead State is in real-time, switching into turn-based mode when combat initiates.

Character creation

Character Creation consists of two stages. Initially, the player chooses their character's gender, 3D appearance, portrait (either from a pre-generated list, uploading an image, or using the custom portrait generator), and name. After this, the player has a choice of either selecting an archetype that fits a certain play style, or distributing character points manually. [3]

Character advancement

Players are able to advance their skills and stats not by killing creatures, but by completing various goals, such as investigating areas, collecting a certain amount of food, resolving a conflict, and so on. Ally characters gain 1 skill point for each day they're at the Shelter, which are automatically distributed based on their preset character personalities. While the player is unable to distribute their points, for some allies, they are able to influence the development of some ally characters based upon their actions.

The maximum level for character development is capped at 20 - by this point, the character will also have reached 170 attribute points. Players may also choose to do certain quests to gain another 30 attribute points, making the maximum points available 200[ citation needed ]. Experience can still be gained and is used to learn more skills or buy consumable items throughout the game[ citation needed ].


Combat in Dead State is fully turn-based, utilizing an Action Point system that draws from a character's Agility stat, and relies on character initiative to determine turn order. It also employs a "Line of Sight" scenario - if no allies or enemies can see each other, they do not appear on the map. Once one is sighted, they appear - but combat does not initiate until the enemy either detects the player or an ally, or the player manually initiates combat.

The player character can select up to three other characters to accompany in the field: early builds of the game experimented with AI-controlled allies, [4] but the end product had fully controllable ally characters. [5] The game also features perma-death, meaning that if one of your allies is killed, they stay dead, and there is no way to revive them. However, if the player character is killed, the game is over.

Dead State features combat against both the undead and other factions of human enemies. While undead only come in two forms - walkers and crawlers - they move at a uniform rate, and are not very dangerous in small numbers. Both allies and enemies can be infected if they are pulled down by the undead and attacked while their health is low, and when killed, infected characters will reanimated as zombies themselves. (Players cannot be infected unless they choose the "Player Infection" mode in the Reanimated update.) Human enemies are far more dangerous, falling into a variety of factions from frightened looters to biker gangs to rogue military - each with their own varying stat and skill levels, weapons, and items.

There are both melee and ranged weapons: any character can use any weapon, but their skill with it will depend on the applicable stats and skills for each (Melee - Strength stat and Melee skill; Ranged - Perception stat and Ranged skill). Melee weapons often have multiple different attacks, which can do variant damage based on a character's angle of attack, and whether or not the target is human or undead. Ranged weapons often lack the multiple different attacks of melee, but some can get modifications that improve their utility in combat. [6]

A key factor within the combat in Dead State is the Noise Meter, which sits on the upper left of the screen and measures how much of a racket is being made. Undead and humans alike are attracted to noise, and raising the Noise Meter too high will result in undead spawning on the edges of the map, and moving towards the source of the sound. Players eventually discover items to allow them to manipulate noise, such as firecrackers and noisemakers, and can utilize them to lure enemies towards one another or away from a lootable area.

Reanimated changes

Released on May 13, 2015, the free Reanimated update included a significant amount of updates and improvements, including a full combat rebalance, improved animations, better AI, new areas, new gameplay modes, and stability and pathfinding improvements. [7] The free demo of the game was later updated with the Reanimated content as well. [8] [9]


Dead State is centered in the fictional town of Splendid, and the gameplay area covers a significant amount of the center of the state - this ranges from Abilene (north), San Angelo (west), and Austin (southeast). The game begins sometime in the modern day, in the spring, and lasts over a period of about four months.

Set at the beginning of the undead apocalypse, the player is involved in a plane crash over central Texas near the fictional town of Splendid, and are saved by a small group of survivors that have taken refuge at the local public school and made it their Shelter. As society is beginning to fall apart, the player must organize a handful of allies, work on fortifying the school into a livable long-term shelter, scouting for food and supplies, making uncertain alliances with others, and attempting to hold together a group as humanity teeters on the brink of extinction. And although the undead lurk as an ever present environmental threat, the biggest obstacle to the player are other humans with the same goal: survival at any cost.


Dead State began development in Summer 2009 as a collaboration between the newly formed DoubleBear Productions and Iron Tower Studio, with writer/designer Brian Mitsoda as the project lead. [10] [11] The game utilized The Age of Decadence 's game engine, although it was later upgraded to Torque 3D. The game initially carried the working title of "ZRPG", but was updated with the formal title of Dead State when it was formally announced a year later.

Designer Brian Mitsoda stated that the game was intended to be very dynamic, with each playthrough forming a unique experience. [12] Mitsoda's own experiences living in Miami, Florida during Hurricane Andrew were an influence on the game design, as he intended to "work it into a broader examination of how humans deal with a crisis beyond their control." [13]

On June 5, 2012, DoubleBear started a campaign on the crowdfunding site, Kickstarter, seeking $150,000 to fund the development of the game. [14] The campaign ended one month later on July 5, having collected $332,635; 221% of the original goal. The game was first shown at the Indie Megabooth for PAX Prime 2013 [15] with a playable demo showing, and showed there again the following year. [16] On February 14, 2014, DoubleBear Productions launched an early access demo of Dead State on Steam. Dead State: The First Seven Days was an early preview of the first week of Dead State’s gameplay as an opportunity for the player to prepare their strategy and allow the early access players to test and polish the game. [17] Dead State entered active beta on Steam on August 27, 2014, and has had consistent patches and updates since the Early Access release in February.

Dead State was released on Steam and on December 4, 2014, [18] [19] and was picked as PC Gamer writer Evan Lahti's 2014 Personal Pick. [20] The game has had multiple updates since its release, the largest of those being the Reanimated [21] release. As with that and all other patches and updates, they have been released for free to the owners of the game. [22] [23]

Although the Reanimated patch was the final update for Dead State, [24] Iron Tower Studios assisted with creating a Russian language translation of the game. [25] Brian Mitsoda also penned a postmortem of the game on Gamasutra, [26] and the team spoke about it on a panel at PAX Dev 2015. [27]

Related Research Articles

The Fantasy Trip (TFT) is a role-playing game that was designed by Steve Jackson and was published by Metagaming Concepts.

<i>Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines</i> Role-playing video game

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is a 2004 action role-playing video game developed by Troika Games and released by Activision for Microsoft Windows. Set in White Wolf Publishing's World of Darkness, the game is based on White Wolf's role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade and follows either a male or female character who is killed and subsequently revived as a fledgling vampire. The game depicts the fledgling's journey through the early 21st-century Los Angeles to uncover the truth behind a recently discovered relic that heralds the end of all vampires.

In fantasy fiction, a revenant is a sentient creature whose desire to fulfill a special goal allows it to return from the grave as a creature vaguely resembling an intelligent zombie or jiangshi. Another possibility is that a powerful wizard returns a dead hero from the past to make him go on a quest that no living human would dare to undertake. Such a revenant may be just as intelligent as it was in life but its will is usually bound by the wizard who summons and controls it.

<i>The House of the Dead</i> video game series

The House of the Dead is a horror video game franchise created by Sega. Originally released on arcade, it utilizes a light gun on the platform, but can be played with standard controllers on consoles and a mouse or keyboard on home computers. For the PlayStation Network releases of III and 4, they can also be played using the PlayStation Move controller.

Brian Mitsoda is an American video game designer and writer best known for his work on the 2004 game Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. He is the founder of DoubleBear Productions and is married to fellow writer/game designer Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda.

Undead Labs

Undead Labs LLC is an American video game developer based in Seattle, Washington. The company was founded in November 2009 by Jeff Strain and developed the State of Decay series. In 2018, Undead Labs became part of Microsoft Studios.

<i>State of Decay</i> (video game) video game

State of Decay is an action-adventure survival horror stealth video game developed by Undead Labs and published by Microsoft Studios. It places emphasis on how the player's leaderships skills fare against an onslaught of problems, such as diminishing survival resources, group trust and morale, zombie extermination, base defenses, and people's lives. The game combines elements of shooters, stealth, role-playing and strategy games and the game challenges players to survive by exploring, scavenging, and fighting the undead.

<i>Divinity: Original Sin</i> 2014 video game

Divinity: Original Sin is a fantasy role-playing video game developed by Larian Studios. The game was partially funded through Kickstarter and is a prequel to Divine Divinity. Upon its release in 2014, the game received acclaim from critics, with many praising its ability to modernize the RPG genre. The game ships with the editor that created it, allowing players to create their own single-player and multiplayer adventures and publish them online. An enhanced edition of the game, featuring voice acting and various other updates, was released in October 2015. A sequel to the game, titled Divinity: Original Sin II, was released in September 2017.

Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda is an American video game designer specializing in role-playing video games, best known for her writing work on the 2008's Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir and her design work on the 2012's Guild Wars 2, and DoubleBear Productions' Dead State and PANIC at Multiverse High! She is the wife of game designer Brian Mitsoda.

<i>Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues</i> Fantasy role-playing video game

Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is a fantasy role-playing video game. Described as being a spiritual successor to the Ultima series, Shroud of the Avatar is developed by Austin, Texas-based developer Portalarium, with a team led by Richard Garriott as creative director, Starr Long as executive producer, Chris Spears as lead technical designer, and Tracy Hickman as lead story designer.

<i>Dying Light</i> survival horror video game

Dying Light is an open world first person survival horror action-adventure video game developed by Techland and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Announced in May 2013, it was released in January 2015 for Microsoft Windows, Linux, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The game was once planned to be released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but was later cancelled due to hardware limitations.

<i>7 Days to Die</i> open world, voxel-based sandbox game

7 Days to Die is a survival horror video game set in an open world developed by The Fun Pimps. It was released through Early Access on Steam for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X on December 13, 2013, and for Linux on November 22, 2014. Versions for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released in 2016 through Telltale Publishing.

<i>Dex</i> (video game) video game

Dex is a side-scrolling action role-playing game developed and published by Dreadlocks Ltd. The game was crowdfunded on Kickstarter, and was released in 2015.

<i>Avernum 2: Crystal Souls</i> video game

Avernum 2: Crystal Souls is a single-player role-playing video game developed by Spiderweb Software. It is the second game in the Avernum trilogy. The game was released for OS X and Microsoft Windows in January 2015, The iPad version was released on the App Store on April 15, 2015.

<i>Hard West</i> video game

Hard West is a turn-based tactical game developed by CreativeForge Games and published by Gambitious Digital Entertainment. It was released digitally on November 18, 2015 for Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux, and was released for the Nintendo Switch on March 7, 2019.

<i>Road Redemption</i>

Road Redemption is a vehicular combat racing video game being developed by Pixel Dash Studios and EQ Games as a spiritual successor to the Road Rash series of vehicular combat racing video games. An in-progress version was available through Steam Early Access. The final game on PC was released on October 4, 2017. Console versions of Road Redemption were released on November 6, 2018.

StarCrawlers is a dungeon crawler and role-playing game that was released for Windows, macOS, and SteamOS on 24 May 2017. It was the first game produced by Juggernaut Games, which funded it using a Kickstarter. It is set in a sci-fi universe with cyberpunk elements, and features a mixture of pre-built and procedurally generated content. The game aims to revitalise dungeon-crawlers as a genre, billing itself as a "modern take on a classic cRPG dungeon crawler", and is available on Steam or GOG.

Legrand Legacy: Tale of the Fatebounds is a role-playing video game developed by Semisoft and published by Another Indie. Semisoft describes the game as a "nostalgic love letter to classic JRPGs". The game was released in January 2018 on Microsoft Windows, and is scheduled for release in 2019 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

<i>Book of Demons</i> action video game developed and published by Thing Trunk and available on Steam since July 2016

Book of Demons is an isometric hack'n'slash game with elements of action role-playing created by Polish studio Thing Trunk. The game was officially released through Steam on 13 December 2018. The game was originally developed for Microsoft Windows, but the developers informed about plans to release it also on Xbox One. Book of Demons is the first installment of the Return 2 Games series that aims to bring classic hardcore genres to broader audiences. The game features an unusual art style - all elements of the game are visualised as papercuttings and pop-up book elements, and such style defines visual framework for the whole series. The game also brings some novelties to the genre - the card system which replaces equipment and skills systems typical for hack'n'slashes, the Flexiscope feature which allows players to control duration of a game session and movement restricted to a path which add a tactical element to the gameplay.


  1. Kieron Gillen (2010-08-25). "A Blood Red State: Dead State Revealed". Rock, Paper, Shotgun . Retrieved 2010-12-13.
  2. "Steam Community :: Group Announcements :: Dead State". Dead State: Reanimated is here!. DoubleBear Productions. May 13, 2015. DS:R isn’t just an update - it’s our definitive enhanced edition with brand-new content, full of improvements and fixes requested by you, our community!
  3. Smith, Adam. "Just Survive: Dead State Interview". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  4. Smith, Adam (March 18, 2013). "Know Your Roll: Dead State's Combat Video". Know Your Roll: Dead State's Combat Video. Rock Paper Shotgun. Seeing the first footage of Dead State’s zombie-smashing, looter-blasting turn-based combat might be the main draw of the video below, but it’s the details that really captured my attention.
  5. Brian Mitsoda (April 19, 2013). "Greenlight Success and Other News". Kickstarter. The biggest change that we have recently made is the following – you can now control your whole party in combat.
  6. Lahti, Evan. "Dead State Review". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2015-12-08. I particularly like the way melee weapons have different utility attacks.
  7. Corgipede (May 13, 2015). "Dead State: Reanimated is here!". Dead State: Reanimated is here!. Steam. This isn’t just Dead State anymore - this is Dead State: Reanimated! DS:R isn’t just an update - it’s our definitive enhanced edition with brand-new content, full of improvements and fixes requested by you, our community!
  8. DoubleBear Productions (May 13, 2015). "Dead State's Free Demo!". Dead State's Free Demo!. Steam.
  9. Corgipede (May 26, 2015). "Dead State demo updated". Dead State demo updated. Steam.
  10. Brian Mitsoda (August 6, 2009). "ZRPG". ZRPG. Iron Tower Studios. As the speculators have correctly guessed, yes, DoubleBear’s first game is indeed a Zombie RPG, which we have fondly referred to as a ZRPG internally.
  11. Kieron Gillen (August 7, 2009). "Obsidian Veterans to Make Zombie RPG: "ZRPG"". Rock Paper Shotgun.
  12. Brother None (2010-09-16). "Dead State Interview". GameBanshee . Retrieved 2010-12-13.
  13. Keane Ng (2009-08-11). "Designing a "Serious" Zombie RPG". The Escapist . Retrieved 2010-12-13.
  14. DoubleBear Productions. "Dead State: The Zombie Survival RPG". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  15. "Dead State - Indie MEGABOOTH". Indie MEGABOOTH. Archived from the original on October 22, 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  16. "PAX Prime 2014". Indie MegaBooth. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  17. "Dead State Early Access on Steam – First looks". Apocalypsezone. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  18. "Big Halloween News: We Have A Release Date!". Steam Community. Retrieved 2014-10-31.
  19. Chalk, Andy. "Dead State sets a launch date". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2014-10-31.
  20. Lahti, Evan. "2014 Personal Pick - Dead State". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  21. Meer, Alec. "Wot I Think - Dead State: Reanimated". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  22. Chalk, Andy. "Dead State: Reanimated is on Steam and free to owners of the original". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  23. O'Connor, Alice. "Reanimated: Dead State Hefty Overhaul Patch Released". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  24. "Dead State 2? Expansion?". Steam. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  25. "Dead State Russian translation: it's ready!". Iron Tower Studios. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  26. Brian Mitsoda (March 11, 2015). "Postmortem: DoubleBear's Dead State - Controlling scope in an RPG". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  27. "Shambling Into the Light: Dead State Postmortem". PAX Dev. Archived from the original on 2015-12-10. Retrieved 2015-12-08.