The celebration of the undead for Zombie Awareness Month continues.
This annual event takes place every May and is coordinated by the Zombie Research Society. During this time, many fans observe the occasion by hosting charitable events and conventions. It’s designed to raise awareness and help prepare us for the inevitable apocalypse, making it the perfect opportunity to educate yourself.
At the beginning of the month, I shared my thoughts on the enduring popularity of zombies. Developers like using them as non-player characters (NPCs) because they hide various programming flaws, while writers use them as a narrative device to tap into many of our fears. As for gamers, perhaps our obsession has something to do with the ‘uncanny valley’ and seeing ourselves in the undead.
When Eric from Eric Hagmann Music shared a link to his post about eggs in video games for Easter, it felt like fate. His top-ten lists are always a treat to read so collaborating on something fitting for Zombie Awareness Month seemed like a great idea. What better way to help spread the word than by sharing our favourite zombie games? You can check out Eric’s list here and compare our final selections.
I must confess that I haven’t personally played every one of the titles below. The truth is that I can be quite the coward when it comes to the horror genre. Several of the games were experienced from the comfort of a sofa while hiding behind a cushion, entrusting someone braver than me with the controls. Without further delay, let’s delve into our carefully curated selection of zombie releases and embark on a thrilling journey through the realm of the undead.
10. Resident Evil: Biohazard
Resident Evil 7 has secured its place on today’s list thanks to its visually striking zombies. Their detailed designs and lurching animations make us feel as though their behaviour is unpredictable, creating encounters which are intensely nerve-wracking. I particularly liked the way this game utilises flashbacks to flesh out its story (pun intended). By discovering VHS tapes scattered around the Baker family’s plantation, players can relive past events and control the events of the footage they witness.
9. Dead Rising
The zombies in the original Dead Rising are exceptional due to their overwhelming number. The sheer size of the horde helps create a chaotic and immersive experience, while their realistic behaviour makes them more than simple mindless enemies. The game’s emphasis on large-scale undead encounters contributes to its unique appeal. I mean, who wouldn’t relish the chance to run around a shopping mall while wearing a giant Servbot head. wielding a toy laser sword or hunk of meat as a weird weapon?
8. Strange Brigade
The zombies in Strange Brigade offer diversity and unique designs. Each type possesses unique abilities and means players must strategise and adapt their approach accordingly. However, the game’s appeal extends beyond these undead adversaries. The cooperative gameplay means you can team up with friends to tackle these formidable foes, and the narrator adopts a stiff-upper-lip attitude for a quintessentially British touch. I defy anyone not to yell a spirited ‘Tally-ho!’ while playing this game.
Deadlight earns its spot on today’s list due to its eerie atmosphere and haunting visuals. Despite not usually enjoying platformers thanks to my lack of coordination, I loved how the post-apocalyptic setting was depicted so beautifully here. The Shadows, the game’s interpretation of the undead, are driven by their insatiable hunger for flash and engaging with them directly is often risky. These creatures heighten the suspense and tension, presenting players with challenging situations as they navigate the ruins of Seattle.
6. Days Gone
It was a pleasure to watch friend-of-the-blog Phil stream Days Gone as I became really engrossed in its story. Each time he bravely ventured into a cave or building to clear out a freaker horde, I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat and biting my nails. These masses of zombies move dynamically and react to the player’s actions. They manage to create a genuine sense of panic and, while it’s a different sort of realism when compared to Resident Evil 7, it’s an approach which proves to be highly effective.
5. Corpse Killer
Thanks to a kind gift from Ellen from Strength in Sarcasm, I had the opportunity to play the 25th Anniversary Edition of 1994 classic Corpse Killer a few years ago. While the storyline lacks any kind of depth other than ‘save the world’ and the undead costumes leave plenty to be desired, the over-the-top performances by the actors add to its B-movie charm. The game’s flaws are weirdly endearing, and the full motion video (FMV) sequences provide a cheesy yet entertaining experience.
4. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
The zombies in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter are a surprise. They appear at a moment when you’re least expecting them and, instead of being your conventional brain-seeking undead, they embody haunting representations of past traumatic events. Their melancholic behaviour combined with excellent lighting and sound-effect choices create a unique presence which adds to the title’s atmosphere of mystery and suspense, quite unlike any of the other selections on my list.
3. To The Moon
In a heartfelt narrative like the one told through To The Moon, encountering zombies may come as a shock. But when Eva needs to create a diversion to prevent Neil from interrupting a crucial task, she dives into a simulation and dispatches undead versions of herself to mess with him. Some say these creatures are symbolic and represent Neil’s perception of her as being emotionally distant and unresponsive. I say they’re a moment of comedic relief in an emotionally charged story which brings tears to the eyes.
2. The Typing of the Dead: Overkill
You greet a boss called Meat Katie, a grotesquely-mutated butcher woman with a cow skull and udder attached to her body. You’re then confronted with phrases such as ‘udderly delightful’, ‘sirloin surprise’ and ‘food preparation’ which must be typed accurately to defeat her. Grab that keyboard and force her backwards into a meat grinder so she dies with a moo. The Typing of the Dead: Overkill is even more over-the-top than Corpse Killer and impossible not to laugh at.
Honourable mention: Resident Evil
The original Resident Evil was the first true horror I ever played. It was the game which taught me I’m better off hiding behind a cushion on the sofa and letting someone else deal with the controls. Although the graphics appear blocky and unrealistic nowadays, they managed to evoke genuine terror at the time. It might not be at the top my list of favourite zombie game, but its iconic status and influence on the genre mean it deserves at least an honourable mention.
1. Monkey Island: LeChuck’s Revenge
It will come as no surprise to regular readers that LeChuck has my heart here. Despite taking on a zombie form for the second instalment in the Monkey Island series, he still manages to prove he’s more a role model than a villain and is simply misunderstood. He’s constantly getting blown up by Guybrush both mentally and physically yet still comes back for more. This is a sign of resilience and inner strength, and that determination is the mark of a true protagonist. LeChuck teaches us that real heroes never give up.
Thanks so much to Eric from Eric Hagmann Music for joining me in this trip through the land of the undead. Be sure to take a look at his post and find out which titles made it onto his selection. And now over to you: what are your favourite zombie games and why?