In the past decade, zombies have become a cultural phenomenon, with the undead popping up in numerous books, movies, and games. Zombies are a fun idea, and I won’t admit I don’t enjoy a good zombie apocalypse, but I’m sick of zombies in games. So many games play with the idea of undead hordes that blowing their heads off has become shockingly boring.
One reason for this is that the zombie concept is just become too common in games these days. In the past several years, the Dead Space series, the Dead Rising series, Dead Island, the Left 4 Dead series, and even the Uncharted series have had zombies in them. And, Uncharted developer Naughty Dog’s next game, The Last of Us, involves zombies as well. All these games are high-profile titles, and were accompanied by many zombie-themed Playstation Network or Xbox Live Arcade games. I’ve said before that modern military shooters are way too common in the industry, and unfortunately zombie games are starting to approach that level of prevalence.
If one looks at the characteristics of your classic zombie horde, other problems arise. For example, it’s hard to create variety in a horde of undead enemies, as canonically most zombies ought to look and behave in a pretty similar way. Granted, games like Left 4 Dead try to spice things up with more powerful and unique zombies, but ultimately it boils down to mowing down hundreds of relatively weak, groaning, and grotesque humanoid creatures.
Also, when trying to tell a serious story, it’s hard to be unique in the origin of the undead. It seems as though every single possible genesis of the undead has been explored in popular media at this point; whether it is a lab experiment gone wrong or a pandemic spread by some mutated animal, the story has already been told. Without fresh narrative concepts, the stories of zombie games can get a little tired.
I am not saying that we should do away with zombie games all-together. I am merely saying that the industry might want to scale back their production of zombie games, at least for now. At this point, let’s give those zombies a break from eating our brains and our lead.