Best Zombie Games Of All Time
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Zombies and video games are an eternal pairing, a powerhouse combo of gory storytelling and terrifying possibility that can be used to tell unforgettable stories within the medium. Of course, not every zombie game is a guaranteed hit and there have been more than a few stinkers over the years that have lacked any excitement or charm, and in the wrong hands, are painfully boring.
But when all the undead stars are aligned and a clumsy intern has accidentally let an infected test subject loose in a crowded urban environment? The result is an infectiously good time that you can have on console or PC, as modern zombie games can provide an apocalyptic jolt of fun, terror, and heart-pounding suspense. We've rounded up the best zombie games ever--titles that take this classic concept to the next level. These games use their monsters to create intense tension or examine the zombie apocalypse in new and interesting ways. From real-time strategy titles to horror shooters, these are the zombie games that you should absolutely check out.
Beginning its life as a mod, DayZ really tapped into the "survival" side of survival-horror. The game drops you on an island overrun with zombies, tasking you with finding everything you need to survive when you get there. While the computer-controlled undead are a major problem, your real worry is the fact that you might run into other player-controlled survivors. They might choose to help you, or they might try to kill you and take everything you've got. Never knowing what you might face is part of DayZ's appeal, and it left such a strong impression that it helped give rise to the survival genre of games, and later, battle royales.
Dead Rising 2
The Dead Rising games take the opposite approach to titles like The Last of Us, Resident Evil 2, and The Walking Dead. These titles put you in places overrun by zombies, but the atmosphere is a little campier and there are quite a few more ridiculous costumes at play. Navigating through the hordes is less about terror and more about creatively overcoming a big, mindless obstacle--and you get some ludicrously fun ways to do that. Dead Rising 2 lets you craft ridiculous weapons to shred, cook, electrocute, explode, and otherwise dismantle zombies, while also offering a big world with lots of other characters to find and rescue. It's a funny, overwrought take on the end of the world, and if you like killing zombies in ridiculous ways, this one's for you.
Read our Dead Rising 2 review.
In video games, it seems that there are quite a few places overrun by zombies. Dying Light drops you onto an island swarming with the undead and tasks you with making your way through its open world by running and parkouring across its half-destroyed buildings and deserted vehicles. There are all sorts of missions to complete as you run around the game's island, working with different factions and trying to save survivors and procuring weapons to help you stay alive. But the best part of the game is undoubtedly its movement system, and the terror you face as night falls and the really frightening monsters come out.
Read our Dying Light review.
The Last of Us series
The Last of Us is about a world overrun by "infected," and while they're not actually zombies--the mindless humans have fungus growing in their brains and that's what turns them into killing machines--the game is basically set in a zombie apocalypse. What makes The Last of Us work is its well-drawn characters and the realism and intensity it brings to its setting and premise. It's hard to separate the two games in the series, since their narrative and mechanics are so essentially intertwined. In both The Last of Us games, developer Naughty Dog has created a story that feels populated by real human beings stuck in an impossible situation. Both games are incredibly emotional and often raw, while also putting you into frightening, violent fights for your life.
Left for Dead series
When you think of quintessential zombie game experiences, it's impossible not to come up with the Left 4 Dead series. Developer Turtle Rock Studios used a zombie apocalypse to define a whole subset of multiplayer games, placing you both in the role of a group of survivors fighting their way through the horde, and in that of some vicious special zombie creatures that can ravage those poor humans. The essential part of Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 is teamwork, whether you're the human crew blasting your way through hordes of infected enemies, or you're the monsters themselves, trying to lure the humans away from one another to pick them off. The zombie apocalypse is a perfect setting for a cooperative game, and Left 4 Dead created some phenomenal gaming moments by leveraging it.
Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Zombies make for solid opponents in the tower defense genre. Their insatiable hunger and one-track minds make them great cannon fodder, and Plants vs. Zombies allowed players to use a variety of fun, goofy plants as weapons to fend off brain-munching foes. With Garden Warfare 2, developer Popcap mixes tower defense with a third-person class-based shooter, allowing you to take on the roles of a bunch of different plants and zombies in a huge battle for the neighborhood. There's a whole lot of content here, with lots of multiplayer shooter options, giving a whole other spin to the idea of fighting zombies--and that of having a green thumb.
With Project Zomboid, the zombie apocalypse gets a sandbox survival approach. You're a survivor of the zombie apocalypse, as usual, but here the work of staying alive requires a whole lot more effort. You not only have to deal with hordes of the undead, you also have to construct buildings and defenses to protect yourself, craft items so you can make food, and stave off other problems, like depression or infections. Project Zomboid brings a whole lot of additional depth to the usual tasks of scoring headshots on zombies, and while it's still in early access, it's constantly being updated with new features as it goes through the development process.
Resident Evil 2
In no small part, the popularity and straight-up terrifying nature of the Resident Evil games is responsible for the zombie trend that has lasted for more than two decades. Several of the games in the franchise capture the best and most frightening parts of the horror subgenre and are worthy of your attention--including Resident Evil Remake and Resident Evil 3--and others aren't quite "zombie" games but are still excellent riffs on the genre. But the remake of Resident Evil 2 might just stand above the rest. It puts you in the midst of a city tearing itself apart as it's ravaged by a horde of zombies, and while there are plenty of other creatures vying to scare the hell out of you, there's nothing quite like the realization that the entirety of Raccoon City is shuffling toward you, arms outstretched and hungry.
Read our Resident Evil 2 review.
State of Decay
The bigger the world, the more frightening the zombie apocalypse that annihilates it, which is what makes State of Decay work. It puts you in a huge open world that's filled with zombies, in which you have to think seriously about risk and reward if you want to survive. Fighting the horde is never advisable, so what's the best path to your next objective? How can you avoid the undead to keep yourself safe? You can address your problems in different ways, especially as you meet more characters and add them to your group of survivors--and control them as you see fit. Each character has their own stats and capabilities, requiring you to harden them through combat and allowing you to use them to their strengths to help your entire group survive. Having access to lots of characters fighting for survival gives State of Decay a different strategic spin on surviving the undead.
Read our State of Decay review.
Telltale's The Walking Dead Season 1
Before The Walking Dead had quite become a full-on television phenomenon, there was Telltale's take on the iconic comics. Another story of the zombie apocalypse as it unfolded all over the country, the point-and-click, narrative heavy adventure game followed Lee, a former convict, as he worked to care for and protect Clementine, a young girl who'd lost her parents. The bond created between Lee and Clementine, as well as the often terrible choices the game would put to players as they fought to stay alive at the end of the world, turned The Walking Dead into a classic, and one that works to make the zombie apocalypse something frightening to play through.
Read our Telltale's The Walking Dead review.
They Are Billions
Zombies are useful to a lot of genres of video games. In They Are Billions, zombies are the antagonists of a real-time strategy game in which you're tasked with protecting the colonies of the last surviving humans. As the title suggests, however, the zombie hordes are enormous and overwhelming. You've got steampunk technology at your disposal, though, allowing you to fight back the enemy with some unconventional approaches. And while They Are Billions is a real-time strategy game and thus requires you to act on the fly to use tactics to stop the zombie advance, it also allows you to pause so you can think about your actions before you commit to something that might get you and your colonists turned.
Days Gone might not have reached the same heights of other first-party PlayStation games, but there's no denying that the fact that game absolutely nails its zombie apocalypse setting. With humanity reduced to a collection of barely functioning enclaves, the rest of the Oregon environment is a haunting and hazardous slice of post-apocalyptic ruin and viral danger. Days Gone's hyper-energetic Freakers are a force to be reckoned with, bloodthirsty cannibals who are at their deadliest when a mob mentality kicks in and a swarm of infected rage comes charging at you.
Throw in savage wildlife and opportunistic bandits, combine that with underrated motorcycle customization in a hostile frontier, and finish it all off with some pulse-pounding encounters and you've got a rock-solid game of survival in an unforgiving landscape.
Read our Days Gone review.
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
2010's Red Dead Redemption was one of the biggest hits of the year, but with that initial release in the rearview mirror, Rockstar's return to the American Frontier was a surprising dive into zombie territory. Could two different genres, seemingly worlds apart, be successfully combined? The answer is a resounding yes, because Undead Nightmare successfully remixes Red Dead Redemption with a spooky edge and supernatural threats that'll keep you on your toes constantly. While the original game is a melancholic journey through the end of a cowboy era, Undead Nightmare is an intense fight for survival in an unforgiving world cursed by unseen forces.
Read our Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare review.
Dead Space (2023)
The original Dead Space is arguably one of the most important games in the horror genre, a beacon of sinister light that helped resurrect a genre, like a slasher pulled from beyond the void to torment misbehaving high-schoolers. So how do you improve on one of the best survival horror games of all time? With a remake that goes deep into the digital DNA of what made the original game so special and amplifies what made it so special in the first place.
When it comes to surviving against hordes of humans that have been warped and twisted by malevolent forces beyond mortal ken, Dead Space is still a masterclass in gore, thrills, and action. But with thoughtful touches, modern enhancements, and a graphical update that makes every limb-dismembering scene encounter that much more stomach-churning? It becomes an essential experience for any horror enthusiast.
Read our Dead Space review.
The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners
While Telltale's beloved narrative adventures come to mind whenever you mention The Walking Dead, 2020's Saints and Sinners is an excellent entry in the franchise that pushed the envelope on VR gaming with gruesomely interactive action. Released on the first PlayStation VR headset, Saints and Sinners puts you in the boots of the Tourist, a local legend who just so happens to be immune to the infection that transformed humanity into a population of ankle-biters. It's an exhilarating first-person adventure when you're taking care of walkers when they don't grossly outnumber you, terrifying when the odds arestacked against you, and loaded with nuanced systems that make it a VR treat for the ages.