Before the journey is over you’ll battle space bugs, save cheerleaders, leap on trampolines, and fight a giant baby. Since the main thrust of each level is rescuing civilians rather than defeating enemies, it also requires a lot more thought to finish than your average arcade style game, a design innovation that adds a great deal to the challenge and replayability.
The State of Decay series, introduced as an Xbox Live Arcade game in 2013, trades in the genre's typical fast-paced brain-bashing for a slower paced focus on survival and community building. You only have a few action points a day to issue commands, after which you have to simply wait to move again, and the tension of anticipating another turn becomes almost unbearable as you start to consider all the awful things that might be happening while you’re asleep.
Nazis have long been identified with occultism, (both in reality and popular fiction) and Trey arch’s decision to go all-in on the campy grind house aesthetic changed the face of multiplayer shooters. Zombies helped lighten the mood in a series that was increasingly mired in its own self-importance, reminding players, critics, and creators that it is all a game.
Following the success of its Resident Evil series, Cap com introduced a new, lighthearted take on the zombie genre with Dead Rising. From clothing stores to hair salons, toy stores to food courts, each of Dead Rising's locations presents players with a memorable variety of deadly everyday items. The series built on this in future iterations by adding the ability to craft combo weapons, which ranged from explosive sledgehammers to sentry kittens.
Everything from Fortnite to Rust owes Day a tremendous debt for its willingness to throw unarmed players into a hostile land with of their fellow humans and see what happens next. It’s an RPG about being immortal, crammed with more undead than you can shake a severed limb at, including zombies assigned to alternately sad and hilarious purposes.
The necrotic atmosphere permeates every moment in the game: you start the story laying on a slab, your best friend is a disembodied skull, and there are so many dead things running around that there’s a special ability dedicated just to talking with them. The original Plants vs. Zombies blended solid, approachable tower defense gameplay with whimsical charm, leading to its mass appeal; it became a hit among both the hardcore and casual audiences, on PC, consoles, and mobile alike.
Its addictive, wave-based loop spawned a number of official follow-ups and countless other imitators, making this family friendly take on the undead worthy of a spot on our list. From its opening, panic-inducing run-in with the villagers through its final boss and jet-ski escape, RE4 is filled with memorable scares and set pieces still discussed nearly 15 years later.
And with those control issues remedied in the 2019 remake, alongside vastly improved graphics and various other tweaks, RE2 has only gotten better with time.RE2 allowed you to experience a single terrifying night through the unique perspective of two victims, their occasionally overlapping paths both snaking toward horrific discoveries in a city torn apart by an unleashed bioweapon. It’s a tremendously moody and atmospheric game with great pacing, a growing sense of dread, nice monster design, frequent jump scares, and just enough resource scarcity to keep things tense through the end.
The writing and delivery are minimal and masterful, with the bulk of the effort spent creating flawed characters we love or loathe and then stripping them away from us one by one. The original Resident Evil doesn’t boast quite the scope of its sprawling sequel, but the tighter, almost claustrophobic design of the mansion often works to heighten the horror.
The constant threat of the fearsome double-reanimated Crimson Heads in areas you’ve previously cleared fuels a compounding sense of dread that you’re in continual zombie danger no matter how heavily armed you become. The legendary cheesy dialogue is icing on the cake. Also, if you finish the game in under three hours, you can blow up zombies with a bottomless rocket launcher.
Around the same time Trey arch was bringing Zombies into World at War, Valve was introducing us all to their own cooperative take on battling the forces of death. Left 4 Dead pitted teams of four allies against mobs of zombies ruled by an invisible enemy: the innovative AI director, a carefully constructed protocol designed to dynamically influence the game as it unfolded.
The result was a ridiculously repayable zombie shooter. Only a year later, Valve brought us Left 4 Dead 2, building upon that successful formula with a familiar yet greatly enhanced team-based shooter. If you’re salivating for some brains, or just an exciting zombie game that has plenty to offer a wide variety of players, we’ve got you covered.
Joel and Ellie’s harrowing adventure across a ruined United States is one of the most poignant stories ever told in a video game, full stop. You’ll rely on stealth to even the odds against the hordes of infected zombies, cannibals, militia members and other n’er-do-wells you meet.
While The Last of Us was dark, it was ostensibly about hope and trust, with Ellie and Joel coming to terms with their lots in a post-apocalyptic life. The Codices zombies almost take a backseat in this game, springing out just to add horror flavor when needed.
While The Last of Us Part II is a great game, which is why it’s on this list, it may not scratch your itch if you’re craving something more oriented around zombies. And like a lot of sophomore sequels, critics largely agree that it’s not quite as compelling as the original.
This remake of the original Resident Evil first appeared on the Gamete in 2002, and it’s a testament to Cap com’s design that it stands the test of time this well. It got a fresh coat of paint with its port to modern systems in 2015, but the content is almost entirely unchanged.
Few titles can match the feeling of loneliness and foreboding that the Spencer Mansion projects. If you’ve played the original, seeing the RPD fully realized in 3D is a tear-bringing experience, and there’s so many new nooks and crannies to see.
State of Decay 2 balances simulating what running a camp of survivors in a zombie apocalypse would be like with making sure the experience is actually fun. You have to secure resources for your camp, recruit more survivors, and seek larger, more easily defendable bases.
This makes you more appreciative of your survivors, especially since the RPG elements in this game mean you have to take time to level up their skills. This casual tower defense game has become a cultural icon, but the latest title in the series is a team-based shooter.
Plants Vs. Zombies : Battle for Neighborville plays a lot like similar hero shooters like Overwatch and Apex Legends. Following Lee and Clementine was a rollercoaster of emotions, and it featured one of the saddest conclusions in gaming history.
Subsequent seasons of Telltale’s The Walking Dead are lovely as well, but few games can hope to capture the magic seen in the first five episodes. Based on the storytelling alone, this title has earned its reputation as one of the best zombie video games of all time.
Scientists haven’t figured out what makes shooting zombies so fun, but there’s got to be a reason why this subgenre of survival games has become so popular. From series like Resident Evil to Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, there are more than enough games to get your blood pumping.
Even if the general premise remains the same, each zombie game offers its own experience, and it’s a good idea to know what you’re in for before you buy. The Infected in The Last of Us aren’t technically zombies since they haven’t died and risen again, but let’s face it, they share the same basic traits.
They have a hunger for flesh and move at Joel and Ellie with the same voracious intensity seen in other zombie games. The Last of Us excels in every imaginable facet, from its methodical third-person action gameplay to its stunning presentation to the delivery of its sterling story.
The Infected are far better developed than most traditional zombies, and the overarching story is one of the best the medium has seen, especially as a horror game on the PS4. Warner Bros./Tech land Dying Light mixes parkour, resource management, and crafting to create a game that you probably either love or hate.
Playing as an undercover agent in a quarantined area, Dying Light forces you to scavenge for materials to survive. Dying Light winds up as one of the best, most complex open world zombie games around.
The horde-style mode tasks players with eliminating waves of zombies while repairing structures, gaining access to new areas, and unlocking new weapons and gear. Filled with comedic dialogue and wacky weapons, Dead Rising 3 shined as one of the Xbox One games that came with its launch back in 2013.
While most could be mowed down easily, the strength that came with staggering numbers forced you to make use of the fairly deep crafting system. An argument could be made that Dead Rising 4 upped the ante, considering the increase in zombies and all, but we prefer 3’s environments and progression.
Somehow, though, Cap com recreated Leon and Claire’s adventure in Raccoon City to be even more terrifying with modern control systems. Playing like a less action-packed version of Resident Evil 4, RE2 has some of the most spine tingling zombie encounters we’ve experienced.
From the crunch of a ravenous zombie chomping on your neck, to the sheer fear of Mr. X stomping down the hall, Resident Evil 2 is a nerve-wracking romp from start to finish. Leon Kennedy’s solo adventure to rescue the president’s daughter from a rural area in Europe overrun by villagers turned to zombies was simply memorizing.
Resident Evil 4 ushered the iconic franchise into a new era emphasizing more frequent firefights against larger groups of zombies. Sure, we’re happy the franchise returned to its roots with Resident Evil 7, but RE4 remains a high point of the series.
Telltale Games The Walking Dead: Season One offered a different type of zombie experience. Using Telltale’s patented brand of interactive storytelling, The Walking Dead was light on mechanics, reserving them for dialogue decisions, quick time events, and other button prompts.
Designed as a tower defense game, you place various plant-based protectors along your garden grid to stave off the invading zombies. This was in large part due to the nuance added by the AI Director, the puppeteer who dynamically influenced each run through the game to make sure tension remained high throughout.
It’s been almost ten years since Left 4 Dead 2 launched, but we still think about how its marked impact on cooperative and versus modes today. Originally a Wii U exclusive (probably didn’t help), Ubisoft took us to London for a survival horror experience unlike any other.
With a focus on scavenging and a surprisingly neat story, Zombie had an eerie atmosphere filled with cool weapons and stellar frights. State of Decay’s creators took an unconventional route by designing a zombie apocalypse to feel like a job.
State of Decay was a radical, genre-bending game with outpost and base buildings similar to those you’d see in modern RPGs.