BRAAAAINS!!! Zombies are one of the greatest staples of horror. Re-animated corpses on the prowl for cerebral matter have been featured in various works in this genre, movies and video games alike.

Sometimes they’re the primary antagonists, sometimes just cannon fodder. In this article we’ll take a look at games where they get their chance to truly shine.

One thing’s for sure: zombies have become really popular in the last decade thanks to the success of The Walking Dead and its spin-offs. This means you’ll have an easy time picking a nice title for yourself if you’re interested in whacking some undead.

It doesn’t mean that they weren’t featured in video games before that, though. In fact, they’ve always been prevalent. Let’s take a look at some classic titles from the 80s and the 90s.

Retro zombies

There’s a whole slew of zombie-themed games that were released after 1980, including Zombie Zombie, a 1984 title for the ZX Spectrum, The Evil Dead (also released in 1984), Zombi (released two years later in 1986), even Ghosts ‘n Goblins, a Capcom-developed franchise known for its punishing difficulty, as well as a 1989 game, Sweet Home (also by Capcom), where you explore an abandoned mansion full of zombies and ghosts. Sounds familiar?

Things picked up the pace in the 90s. There was Doom (1993) with lots of undead soldiers serving as cannon fodder in between battles with tougher demons.

There was Alone in the Dark (1992), the progenitor of the survival horror genre, later popularized by Resident Evil and Silent Hill, two super successful franchises. Just like the RE series, it’s getting a reboot/reimagining sometime in the future, which is a good thing, considering AotD’s impact on the industry and the genre and the fact that its sequels weren’t always very good, to say the least.

Another title worth mentioning is a rail shooter titled The House of the Dead. The success of Resident Evil and THotD led to zombies becoming super popular once again. The undead were also famously featured in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002), its expansion The Frozen Throne (2003) and World of Warcraft (2004) as one of the playable races.

This is merely a fraction of the games released in the 80s, the 90s and the 2000s that have zombies in them. Still, most of these use the walking dead as just one of the enemies. It is in recent times when they became the main antagonists (aside from evil humans who often appear in zombie-themed works and who are probably way worse than the undead cannibals). This trend started around 2009 with the success of Call of Duty’s Zombies mode and the Left 4 Dead series, as well as The Walking Dead TV show in 2010.

We’ll now take a look at some of the best games about zombies released in the last decade.

Dead Island 2

Release date:2023-04-21
Genre:Action
Developer:Deep Silver Volition

If you’re looking for an open-world action RPG with a zombie apocalypse in the foreground, the Dead Island series is one of your best bets.

California is suffering from a zombie outbreak, one much stronger than those depicted in Dead Island (2011) and Dead Island: Riptide (2013). Your character, however, is immune to the disease. Your search for answers will take you to the open-world environments of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Combat has been revamped, however, some features, such as the rage mechanic and crafting, are returning from previous games.

Dying Light 1 & 2

Release date:2022-02-04
Genre:Action
Developer:Techland

Interestingly enough, this one is Techland’s other zombie-themed franchise.

But while Dead Island was an action RPG, the Dying Light series is more about parkouring in the fictional city of Harran beset by an disease which turns people into mindless, cannibalistic monsters.

The thing is that zombies (known as the infected) are pretty weak, slow and easy to avoid during the day. This is when you can explore the city rather safely. However, the infected become very deadly at night, but going out and completing tasks at that time yields more XP. As usual, the more risky something is, the more rewarding it can be.

Project Zomboid

Release date:2013-11-08
Genre:Indie
Developer:The Indie Stone

This Early Access project is for those who seek a hardcore survival/RPG experience. Project Zomboid puts you in the shoes of a survivor whose goal is, well, to survive as long as they can. The end will come, it’s only a matter of when.

It’s a difficult, realistic game where you need to deal with hordes of zombies, scavenge the area for resources, manage your character’s vitals, adjust to the constantly changing conditions, etc. Project Zomboid is definitely not for the faint of heart. Still, if you’re looking for a fun sandbox-style challenge, you should totally grab this one.

DayZ

Release date:2013-12-16
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Bohemia Interactive

This multiplayer-only project once started as a mod for ARMA 2.

Set in the fictional Republic of Chernarus (which also happens to be the setting of ARMA 2), DayZ puts you in the shoes of one of the survivors of a mysterious infection which, you guessed it, turns people into zombies.

You will have to explore the environment in order to find supplies, tend to your needs, and work with other players to survive. However, you can also avoid or even kill them, although this will only prove that during a zombie apocalypse the actual monsters are in fact other humans, just like in The Walking Dead.

State of Decay

Release date:2015-04-27
Genre:Horror
Developer:Undead Labs

If you ever dreamed of being a leader of a survivor colony, State of Decay is exactly what you’re looking for.

It’s primarily an action game, but it lets you build bases and outposts, as well as manage your own little community.

Naturally, your enemy are hordes of zombies, including some special types that are particularly dangerous. They can also sprint real fast. What interesting, though, is the fact that there are no human foes here, which is a refreshing change from the likes of DayZ.

Resident Evil 1-4 reboots

Release date:2023-03-24
Genre:Horror
Developer:CAPCOM CO., LTD.

And last but not least, the famed survival horrors gloriously returning as completely overhauled games.

The success of the RE1 remake led Capcom to rebuild RE2, RE3, and RE4 from scratch. The results are very impressive

This is definitely the best way to experience the games which kickstarted and spearheaded the survival horror genre, continuing what Alone in the Dark began in 2002. These amazing remakes are something you should totally try if you’re into the whole zombie thing.

These are just a fraction of the best games with zombies that are available on the market right now. There are many more gems waiting for you to discover them.