Dead State was plagued by a number of technical issues when it came out last year, but even so it was good enough to make Evan Lahti's "Personal Pick" for 2014. And now you can try it yourself, without spending a dime: Developer Double Bear Productions has released a free demo that offers roughly ten hours of play over the first seven days of the game.
The Dead State demo includes 15 survivors who can join your shelter, 18 unique locations to explore, and interactions with factions including looters, survivalists, and the Coyotes, a fearsome motorcycle gang. You'll have to deal with all the same problems that come up in the full game, from practical matters like finding food and reinforcing your shelter, to dicier issues such as resolving conflicts between your fellow survivors and deciding which outsiders can be trusted.
The demo covers just the first seven days of play, but saves can be carried over into the full version if you decide to pick it up. Speaking of which, the fifth patch is also now live, which among other things adds loading screen images and tips, adjusts weapon balance, tweaks dialog, and fixes a number of bugs. A breakdown of the latest Dead State update is here, while the 1GB demo can be downloaded from the Dead State Steam page.