Zombies are probably one of the biggest tropes in entertainment ever. You can find good examples from movies (World War Z, Walking Dead, for example) to video games. After all, they make for pretty good antagonists. There is a countless number of them, they’re fearless and struck with an insatiable thirst for blood and flesh along with perennial dumbness. All of that can, and have created quite a lot of action or horror packed scenes in movies and video games alike. Besides the emotionless nature, zombies can also be pretty comedic with their stupidity. Depending on what kind of effect a director or a group of developers want to convey to their audience and players, they can mix it up in appropriate measures flexibly without having to fear much about any backlash.
That’s the reason why zombies have become so popular a trope that it had carved out its very own sub-genre in the entertainment industry: The zombie ‘movies’ or ‘games’.
But nowhere else have zombies gained as great a reputation as in video games. They have become a part of some of the greatest narratives, innovations, and works of digital interactive arts to ever exist. The most visceral and greatest portrayals of zombies are collected in video games.
So why not explore the 10 following greatest zombie games in anticipation of Halloween?
1 - The House of the Dead
This, along with Resident Evil, is considered as the game that has revitalized the interest in the undead all the way back to the 90s. The game helped zombies to become a relevant culture icon in the pop culture of the era as well as being the foundation for the revival of the zombie movie genre almost a decade later. This on-rail arcade shooter remains in good memories of most gamers of the older generation. Even today, you can still spot some arcade machines with The House of the Dead on them in some old-fashioned malls.
George A. Romero, an American director who’s credited as being the ‘father’ of the zombie movie genre with ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968) called The House of the Dead and Resident Evil as having a hand in re-popularising the zombie genre: “more than anything else.”
The game is available on a wide range of platform: Arcade, Saturn, Microsoft Windows, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, Xbox, Nintendo DS, Wii, PlayStation 3, Mobile phone, Steam, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch.
2 - Arizona Sunshine
This is going to be the only VR game to be featured on our list today. Even though the platform’s still in its infancy, Arizona Sunshine is considered as a deep game for VR. It features a campaign mode and horde mode with support for co-op in both of them. The game has pretty stunning feature for a VR game that’s set in the middle of a desert. The gameplay is inarguably entertaining as you pop open the heads of zombies heading your way. The complete immersion that the game offers you with the aid of VR provides unparalleled amusement in comparison to other zombie-killing games.
The game is compatible with the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Valve Index, and PlayStation VR virtual reality headsets.
3 - Dying Light
Though the game can be said as a major mash-up of two separate genres: Survival and free-running, Dying Light seemed to have mastered the combination well. Dying Light has a fantastic combination of games like Minecraft by getting the players to gather resources and materials to survive in a scarcely populated vast open world where most zombies dwell.
Only with the appropriate items crafted via gathered materials will players be well-armed enough to survive through the night. The day-night cycle of the game is dramatically different from one another. It is also a part of the gameplay design: at night monsters are considerably more dangerous and powerful than they are in daylight. Combining all of this with a fluent combat system and an extremely fun free-running system … the game’s an absolute joy to play.
The game is available on Microsoft Windows, Linux, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
4 - Dead Rising
Remember how I said that zombies can also be comedic? Dead Rising is a good example of the humorous nature of zombies. Instead of going the usual gritty, horror-imbued path, this game’s a considerably more light-hearted take on the genre. You’ll be engaged in a slaughter of the undead with a variety of combo weapons.
The game has this nifty system where you can combine ordinary objects and things into weapons of mass destruction like an explosive sledgehammer, timed bomb teddy bears, and sentry kittens. Numerous malls and stores appearing throughout the game act as a pretty good setting for gearing up with weapons so strange and their effects on zombies so bizarre that you might burst out laughing.
The game is available on a wide variety of platforms including Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Shield Android TV, Shield Portable, Shield Tablet, Steam Machine, and iOS.
5 - DayZ
DayZ is iconic in the survival-zombie genre. In fact, this genre owes a lot of its popularity today to this game. DayZ has a pretty humble beginning as a mod for the military combat simulator ARMA III. There are two sides to DayZ: the surrealism aspect of zombies and the hyperrealism aspect of its survival aspect such as hunger, thirst, risks of infection and exposure as well as the breaking down of basic human morality in such dire situations. Trust is a luxury in a game like this where a friend that had been tagging along with you for hours on end could turn their back on you when your guard’s down. Don’t get me wrong, there are great people in DayZ that are genuinely helpful but you never truly know someone’s alignment is up until they either press their gun’s barrel against your neck or become your best friend forever.
While this sounds as if it’s going to be a frustrating experience, it’s actually strangely captivating and addicting. Like so many modern Battle Royale games like Fortnite and PUBG, DayZ threw people into an open world with one another telling them to become the one to get on top of everyone else. Surprisingly many of these modern games also owe their existence into the game and if there’s one thing you’d learn is that zombies are the lesser monsters you’d have to worry about.
The game is currently available on Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
6 - Plants Vs. Zombies
Plants Vs. Zombies has attained the classic status up until now. Even when the original game first came out in 2009, it’s still very much relevant today due to its lighthearted charm, the easily approachable game design, as well as the great appeal of the game among people of all ages. Even almost a decade after it’s come out, the game’s still remaining a hit on mobile, consoles, and PC alike. The addictive and strategic gameplay makes this a family-friendly game that’s going to be perfect for weekends’ afternoons with your family.
The game is pretty popular on multiple platforms: Microsoft Windows, OS X, iOS, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, DSiWare, Bada, Android, Windows Phone, PlayStation Vita, BlackBerry Tablet OS, BlackBerry.
7 - Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 was riddled with troubles from the very start, reportedly having to go through four different revisions before the game could finally see daylight in 2005. Though the effort paid off for Capcom with Resident Evil 4 still remaining as a hit until today. There are numerous memorable sceneries in the game, from the extremely tense and horror-filled seconds when you run into the zombified village. The final boss and lastly, the jet ski escape at the end of the game was also worth a mention.
The game’s smart in its design by mixing in enough horror elements to be effective without boring you out from an overdose. For this, many critics and reputable game ranking sites had considered the game to be: “The best survival horror game ever created.” It’s still a good argument that stands even until now.
The game is available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Android, and PlayStation 2.
8 - The Last of Us
Though we can stay here and argue over the status of the Clickers in the game whether they are mere monsters or zombies, let’s just say that the fungi-infested people are zombies, okay? Even when for the majority of the games you would find yourself shooting and throwing bricks at people more often than Clickers making decisions is still a major part of the game regardless. Also, the game’s tragically beautiful and the quality of The Last of Us is still such that it’s often used as the benchmark for video game dramas for years later up until now.
That is until The Last of Us: Part II comes out on February 21st, 2020.
The game is ready to play on Playstation 3 and Playstation 4.
9 - The Walking Dead: Season 1
If you haven’t heard of this before then no, we’re not talking about the TV show. Telltale made an extremely good game adaptation of the brilliant TV series (Before everything went to crap, of course). The developers have managed to do a very good job of proving just how terrifying point-n’-click and narrative-driven games can get if you were to do it all correctly.
Though the delivery of the entirety of the game itself is rather simple, its quality could only be considered as masterful. The writing is in a class of its own filled with relatable and lovable characters as well as characters you could spend the rest of your life loathing.
One by one, they’re killed off to the point where just a couple of episodes are in and you’d be biting your nails wondering who’s going to bite the dust next. The first season of The Walking Dead franchise managed to restart adventure game storytelling that’s still influencing similar video games all the way till today. Although the studio may have gone, Telltale will still remain in our memories as the creator of this masterpiece that had made us laughed and cried through it all.
The game is available on a wide range of platforms: Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, HDX, OS X, Linux, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Ouya, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One.
10 - Left 4 Dead 2
Here’s the indisputable king of the zombie genre. Though Valve rarely releases games, when they do, though, it’s going to be a masterpiece. When the first Left 4 Dead was released it was no exception to this rule. Valve’s approach to teamwork and co-op play against hordes after hordes of undead can provide you and your friends with countless hours of fun and general mischief. The fact that the AI’s brilliant and the environment’s designated so that it can have dynamic effects upon the entire game and you’ll see that you have at hand a zombie game that - albeit with only a few maps - has a ridiculous degree of replayability.
Only a couple of years after the first game and the studio released the sequel, aptly named Left 4 Dead 2. The game built upon the successful formula that had made the previous game a hit, only this time with a couple of enhancements to bring even more value to the gamers. It were a couple of tweaks to the gameplay here, a couple of improvements made to the campaign there, a greater array of weaponries (Melee weapons, for example, were done well in the game), several new modes (Scavenge and Realism), as well as numerous new types of special zombies (Jockey, Spitter, and Charger). You will find yourself nodding to the idea that Left 4 Dead 2 is simply one of the best (If not the best) co-op game of the era and furthermore, one of the exceptional zombie games ever made.
The game is available on Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, OS X, and Linux.
Which zombie game do you find most interesting? Try them out now to see your favorite zombie game.