Us gamers think we’ve got zombies all figured out. We’ve seen fast zombies, slow zombies, infected-virus zombies, mutated zombies - even zombie cowboys, for god’s sake. Yet we keep playing games with the undead shambling around in them. Why? Because you can’t deny the satisfaction you get from hearing that 'thunk' as you cave in a necrotic homo sapiens’ brain cavity. When it comes down to it, zombies are just plain fun to kill and positively beg us to annihilate them in new, inventive ways.
Whether you like to explore the traumatic tales which sprout from a global zombie apocalypse, or prefer sneaking around the undead, or maybe just like to bash their heads in with ridiculous weapons, we’ve ranked our favourite zombie games for your convenience. So grab your antidote, sharpen that machete, and get your survival gear ready, because these drop-dead brilliant games will prepare you in every possible way for the zombie apocalypse.
Despite its rough edges, it's hard to deny that Dead Island does zombie killing right. The first-person adventure takes you through a tropical paradise filled with shambling corpses, each rotting vacationer just waiting to have their heads whacked off with a chainsaw-baseball bat. Yeah, that's right. You can craft your own weapons to create some impressive undead mutilators - you just have to find the right parts to build one.
Deep down, Dead Island is an RPG, so building increasingly powerful weapons as you progress is a big part of the fun. Also, all of your weapons have durability points and will snap in half if you use them too much, so upgrading them is a necessity. As far as zombie battling with melee attacks goes, Dead Island is tough to beat. There's just something about driving a knife into a rotting cranium from a first-person perspective that's immensely satisfying.
Back in the day, the sheer number of walking dead shown on-screen in the original Dead Rising blew our minds. But even now, after tech improved and expansive crowds are no longer such a big deal as they used to be, Dead Rising 4 still manages to be one of the best zombie-bashing experiences you can get. It's simply a non-stop meatgrinder packed with inventive, over-the-top weapons crafted from the most unlikely things.
Photojournalist (and protagonist) Frank West is back, and this time there's no 72-hour timer running while you smash zombies into shards using crazy weapons, amongst them a nitrogen-laced machete. Despite the never-ending hordes of flesh-eating, dead bozos standing in his way, and although there aren't the same colourful bosses as there were in the original Dead Rising, the dizzying variety of weapons available will make wading through guts and gore totally worth it.
There are about a billion zombie games out there, but it's rare to find one that captures the doom and gloom of the zombie apocalypse like State of Decay does. Undead Labs' open-world survival simulator puts you in control of a group of survivors as they make a home in a world infested with walking corpses.
This isn't just a shooter filled with skull crushing mayhem, you'll need to keep a close eye on your friends if your want to keep them alive. Any of your survivors can leave on a mission and never come back, or go insane and commit suicide, or die from infection. When that happens, they're gone for good; death is permanent. And nothing hits you harder than when your fully-leveled badass decides to off him/herself. Yeah, it gets pretty intense.
The only reason LucasArts' legendary top-down shooter isn't higher on this list is that its focus is on movie monsters in general. But the shambling undead play a huge part in the gloriously campy chaos that is Zombies Ate My Neighbors, considering they're the first - and most prominent- enemy that Zeke and Julie encounter. Their appearance is classic zombie: clothes tattered, arms outstretched, a vacant, goofy half-smile on their decomposing faces. But when you watch your neighbor get devoured by these rotting corpses, they become downright terrifying.
Sure, these zombies are somehow vulnerable to water; one spritz from a squirtgun is all it takes to make them explode in a spray of bones. Yet, despite their frailty, their brisk pace and unyielding pursuit of anything with a brain is chilling, particularly to a youngster first experiencing the wonders of 16-bit. And that strange, chewing-meets-laughing Grawnaha sound they make is petrifying. See for yourself.
Running over zombies was never so much fun. As the DLC for the main game, Dying Light: The Following cuts out most of the parkour from the original and instead puts you behind the steering wheel in a swathe of almost-spotless countryside. Splatter zombies into chunks of gore as you speed across the fields and leave tire-tracks in their guts as you take on daring jumps, all with the promise of getting a zombie head trapped in your windscreen wipers.
We don't really have a zombie-driving game around at the moment, and The Following plugs this niche perfectly. There's even a new, evolved (and much more deadly) version of the Volatiles, who are instant death if you encounter one either whilst in your buggy or sneaking around at night. Regardless, you'll have to dodge them as you drive around investigating a cult who seem to be immune to the zombie virus. The responsive steering makes careering down roads a delight, but beware: the more you swerve out of the way of zombies, the bigger the horde following you will get. Not that it's an issue, because as soon as you take your foot off the brake, sit back, and slam that gas pedal, in no time you'll understand why we love The Following.
It's fair to say that Plants vs Zombies is a titan in the world of mobile games. Where else are you going to get a combination of horticulture and necrotic homo sapiens? A tactician's dream, the game combines tower-defense with strategy as you defend your home from the hordes of zombies using not weapons, but plants.
Yes, it's been out for a while, but it's still one the of the most accessible zombie games around. You might not have nightmares after glancing at the shambling undead, but the game shows that zombies don't need to be terrifying to be entertaining. The different types of decaying humans will keep you constantly re-assessing your strategy, and you're given enough new types of plants at the end of each level to ensure that you never get stuck with one approach. The humour and inventiveness of Plants vs Zombies remains fresh years after its initial release, and it's the ideal game to play either on the go or to sink enough hours into to give Skyrim a run for its money.
Rise of the Tomb Raider: Blood Ties has one section called Lara's Nightmare, which makes one of my worst fears a reality. You're alone at home, in the middle of the night. Suddenly, there's a crash. Turning around, two bright blue eyes stare into your soul - and you stare back into its empty eyes, before grabbing the nearest shotgun to tackle the zombie infestation which has just hit the Croft Manor.
Lara's Nightmare sees you defend yourself against hordes of shuffling, blue-eyed zombies who have found their way into Croft Manor, some wearing helmets (making headshots tricky at best), and some wearing breastplates they've nicked from your antique armoury. A neat series of challenges to complete keeps running around the corridors interesting, plus it's distressingly easy to lower your guard and find yourself backed into a corner. If you're looking for a claustrophobic zombie fright-fest, Lara's Nightmare is your best bet.