In celebration of the release of The Walking Dead: 400 Days, we have put together this list of the 10 Best Zombie Video Games. What’s a zombie game? A video game with zombies in it, duh. The only rule we kept ourselves to was the “one game per franchise” rule, so that we didn’t see a bunch of Resident Evil titles making the list. Otherwise, any game filled with the shambling undead could make the cut. Bite, claw and scratch your way through the 10 Best Zombie Video Games.
A lot of zombie games just throw zombies into a setting we already know and love, and Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare is the best example. The Wild West with Zombies really works for some reason. Without high tech guns and survival techniques, all you have is the open prairie, a horse, a six shooter, and a horde of zombies looking to eat your face. Welcome to the list of the 10 Best Zombie Video Games, pardner.
So, Dead Space 2 doesn’t technically have zombies, but certainly does deserve to be on our list of best zombie video games. Necromorphs are kind of like zombies… right? They are reanimated corpses turned into horrendous monstrosities that want to kill all of mankind. The only difference is that you have to dismember them limb from limb rather than take them down with a headshot.
Right now we're typing this article in a word processor and no zombies are dying. There is obviously a problem with our word processor. Luckily, Typing of the Dead has us covered. Now, every keystroke allows us to blow bits and pieces of rotting flesh off a zombie horde. Learning to type has never been this much fun, even more fun than the House of the Dead franchise that the game was based on.
What’s worse than dying of dysentery? Dying of a zombie bite, obviously. Organ Trail has all the wonderful difficulty of the popular Edutainment title Oregon Trail without any of the education! You even have to decide whether you are going to keep wounded party members around, or if you are going to put them out of their misery. Harsh stuff for a game that’s barely 8-bit.
Dead Rising needs to be on the best zombie games list because it’s a perfect example of one of the three ways you can put zombies into videogames. You can A) make them a horrible threat of death that looms over your head at every minute. B) make them an ever present enemy that needs to be dispatched as you progress toward an even greater goal. Or C) make them an easily dispatchable nuisance that can be killed in many hilarious ways. That’s exactly what Dead Rising was, a hilarious zombie killing simulator. What other game let you attach chainsaws to a boat paddle with duct tape?
Who would have thought a simple casual tower defense from PopCap would make it on the list of the 10 Best Zombie Video Games? Plants vs. Zombies did way more than just cash in on the zombie craze. It allowed budding gardeners to develop their favorite strategy and ride it to the end of the game. Were you the type of guy who used peashooters and flaming tree stumps? Or perhaps you were the type of guy who used frost melons and corn shooters? Maybe you use the coffee bean and the eight way doom shroom along with garlic? The possibilities are endless.
DayZ put the survival back into survival horror. The zombies were only a minor threat in this game. It was the people you really had to worry about. You were equally as likely to get shot in the head by another player looking for blood packs and supplies as you were to get eaten by a roaming member of the undead horde. All it took was putting people together in an online environment to create a pretty sobering commentary on how humanity would operate in a post apocalypse scenario.
OK, so this is a bit of a cheat. Resident Evil 4 doesn’t actually have zombies in it. It really just has nearly immortal Spaniards that are infested with parasites that give them near supernatural powers. They aren’t undead as much as they are… extra… living. Whatever, they are basically zombies, and they were one of the scariest examples of zombies the Gamecube era of games had to offer.
Left 4 Dead 2 was a phenomenal cooperative multiplayer zombie shooter that taught us all a very important lesson. Never leave the group behind. A single person will very quickly die to the onslaught of the zombie horde. However, a group of four can take on nearly any challenge and finally survive. So watch your buddy’s back, keep your rifle handy, and make your way to the safe -- HOLY CRAP TANK! RUN! IT’S GOING TO KILL US ALL!
Sure, it feels a little cheap to put the game we are honoring with this 10 Best Zombie Video Games list in the number one slot, but it’s hard to think of any game that really outdoes The Walking Dead in terms of zombie quality. Zombies in The Walking Dead force people to make difficult choices. Choices about who lives and who dies. Choices about who can be trusted. They bring out the best, and worst, in us, and make us examine ourselves and our values. When death is always around the corner, ready to bring your small meaningless human existence to an end, your true colors are always shown. It’s the game’s phenomenal commitment to narrative and atmosphere that puts it on the top of this list.