Zombies have been a big part of pop culture since George Romero first popularized them in Night of the Living Dead. Since then, the game industry has really taken hold of the undead with games like Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, or even Call of Duty’s “Nazi Zombie” mode. But these games aren’t perfect, no matter how close some have gotten, they all lack something. While we can all dream for the “perfect zombie game” it probably won’t happen at the level we would all like. So what would this perfect zombie game look like? Well, I think it would look like this:
One of the greatest things about the advances in technology in graphics and gameplay is the realism that can be accomplished. Dead Island did relatively well with this, and so did Zombie U. Realism may not work so well with other genres, but when it comes to a zombie game, it provides a truly scary atmosphere. Coming across one of the undead should be scary, but an entire horde of the suckers chasing you down a dead-end alleyway should feel hopeless. Realism isn’t for every zombie game (i.e. Dead Rising) but most would feel much better and much creepier with it.
Dead Island was a decent game, and one of the things that really made it shine was the ability to pick up whatever you could find, and bash a zombie’s head in with it. Sure, the actual melee fighting felt flawed, but it was nonetheless fun. In Dead Rising you could pick up a teddy bear to fight off the undead! The ability to use your environment to kill a zombie makes the game more believable and more fun.
There’s no question that The Walking Dead was a fun game. One of my friends, whom I have never seen cry, said he nearly did at the last episode. I never got around to playing them myself, but the reason was that he grew so attached to the characters. Even in a game like Left 4 Dead, I nearly wept when (spoiler) Bill died in the DLC. I had grown so used to having Zoey, Francis, and Bill around (I always played as Lois) that I couldn’t bear to see any of them go. When the world has all died off, being able to get attached to the characters that are left on Earth is vital. Nobody cares if Sam B. from Dead Island dies, because he’s a shallow character that says shallow things every time he talks. Character development is just as important, if not more important in a zombie game as in another game.
Real time disease spread
One of the coolest DLCs out there is the Red Dead Redemption’s Undead Nightmare. It did an amazing job integrating zombies into what was probably one of the most unexpected zombie games ever. The beauty of this game was in the details. While playing at one point, I happened to come across a stranded girl. I accidentally sped past her, and hurried back on my horse. I was too late. The girl was being eaten by a zombie. I shot him off the poor girl and ran to where she lay to help her. Lo and behold, she has been transformed to the undead. This, paired with a fully open world, meant endless terror. Any one of the people I meet could turn at any moment, as I didn’t know if they had encountered the creatures. Not only that, but the jerk that tried to rob me soon after the incident with the girl was punished by being forced to be bitten by a zombie. All I needed was some rope.
A story we care about
I found that Zombie U was a pretty fun game, but the story was…lacking. Wake up, kill a zombie, get killed, repeat. It was a good concept that was poorly executed at times. Meanwhile, Telltale is giving players an incredible story to chew on with The Walking Dead. Giving the player a reason to fight off hordes of zombies other than the obvious fun of doing so is rare and needed to make a zombie game stick out of the already hundreds of others.
The only thing better than killing hordes of zombies is killing hordes of zombies with your best friend. When the flesh hungry creatures overwhelm, it’s good to have a friend that can lend a helping hand. The added addition of co-op works well with almost any game out there, and zombie games are no exception.