You either love zombie apocalypse games or you don’t. This horror subgenre has gone a long way since Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) movie. With Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead comic book and its TV adaptation, zombie apocalypse theme turned more to the emotional consequences to the survivors than being just a simple survival story. Although the protagonists still have to fight these monsters, the narrative evolved into something more romanticized like vampires or other supernatural creatures.
But games are different from movies and TV shows, and even comics and books since you become a participant in the narrative and thus completely enthralled in everything that is happening. That makes games a more appropriate medium for this horror subgenre since it really allows players to fathom the seriousness of an apocalypse of this kind. And these games on our Top 5 will certainly give you a horrifying insight on that.
The Last of Us
Last of Us created quite a noise when it showed up and rightly so. Developed by Naughty Dog for Sony Computer Entertainment, this was the game that redefined the taste of players with excellent graphics and atmosphere. The game was released on 2013 for PlayStation 3, with the sequel’s gameplay revealed at E3 2018 promising the same experience and even more.
The game is set years after the apocalypse happened and follows Joel a smuggler who has to escort Ellie a teenage girl across the terrain infested with cannibalistic humans infected with Cordyceps fungus. The game is focused on the relationship between the main protagonists Ellie and Joel, and the fact that Naughty Dog used motion capture makes this more believable. Last of Us was highly praised for visual, narrative and gameplay, as well as a depiction of female characters which they certainly intend to respect in the sequel as well.
Resident Evil HD
You can’t create a Top 5 Zombie Apocalypse list without even one title from the Resident Evil franchise. Capcom’s baby was for the gaming industry what Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is for the movies. Resident Evil HD is actually a remake of the first game from 1996 released in 2002 for GameCube, in 2008 for Wii and in 2015 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
The game follows Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, depends who you choose at the beginning of the game. As STARS operative, you are sent to investigate the disappearance of another team investigating a series of murders near Racoon City. You will then find shelter in an abandoned mansion and the story unravels from there and depending on your decisions which also affect the ending of the game.
Left 4 Dead 2
Left 4 Dead series is the franchise that helped Turtle Rock Studio rise among the competition. This co-op FPS game was released in 2009 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360, in 2010 for OS X and, lastly, in 2013 for Linux. The gameplay involves up to four players teaming up against the horde of zombies.
However, what really makes this game unique is the cinematic presence. Namely, each campaign has a name resembling a movie and a poster worthy of any B-title. The goal is to fight zombies from one safe room to another while waves of zombies come after you and your team members. AI is here, of course, to make all this even harder for you, since it adjusts the game based on the assessment of your gameplay. Although this game was really successful, Turtle Rock Studio didn’t make any more sequels nor they’re planning to. Which is a real shame.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead
Telltale’s The Walking Dead is an emotional rollercoaster just like the TV show tends to be from time to time. Developed by Telltale Games, this is an episodic adventure game started in 2012 with the first season and ending this year with the fifth one.
The game follows convicted criminal and professor Lee Everett who rescues a girl Clementine and both of them embark on a journey through the country devastated by a zombie apocalypse. Just like in the comics, they also meet other people and create their own group which seeks shelter, food, and other supplies to survive. Kirkman provided insight for the narrative but it basically shows the same concepts as the comics and TV show. Although you can affect the storyline and thus outcomes, there are certain parts of the narrative that is unchangeable. However, every choice you made is carried over to subsequent episodes and also Telltale Games used those to build a better narrative. So, this is an extraordinary narrative experience which can even make you spend a few tears.
State of Decay
Developed by Undead Labs and published by Microsoft Studios, State of Decay allows you to show off your leadership skills. Released in 2013 for Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows, and remastered in 2015 for Xbox One and Microsoft Windows. The title combines elements of RPG, shooters, strategy and stealth games which creates a unique gameplay for players. Namely, they have to fight the zombies, scavenge to find supplies and explore dangerous parts of their surroundings.
The plot takes place in Trumbull Valley where you are responsible for a group of survivors. You need to build your base and perform tasks that will make sure you are all safe in the small community. But you can control only one survivor at the time so you will have to make smart choices to protect your group. However, zombies are the biggest threat here so don’t underestimate them since they respawn infinitely.
Protect your brains
While the old-fashioned zombies walked really slow and were still able to terrorize humans, modern ones are scarier because they make people do unthinkable evil and make the most difficult of choices. If you thought that zombies are stupid, try one of these games and see for yourself why they are perfect opponents. Who knows, maybe you will learn a thing or two about yourself.
Honorable mentions: Call of Duty: Black Ops II – Zombies, Call of Duty: World at War, The House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, DayZ, and Dead Rising.
What zombie games you like? Tell us in the comments below.