The 13 best zombie games you can play right now

Zombies are the perfect video game enemy: slow, grotesque, and no regard for pain. They practically beg to be killed, whether that's with a bullet through the head or a machete in the neck, and there are few things as satisfying as seeing their rotten brains pop out of the back of their skull.

Hundreds of games have recognised that, pitting players against hordes of undead of all shapes and sizes. But how do you know which ones to play? Well, we've sifted through the corpses to find those that have life in them yet: here are the best zombie games ever made.  

Read more: The 30 best zombie movies of all time

13. Dead Island

Forgetting the sunscreen isn't your biggest worry here

Release date: Sept 2011 | Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC | Score: 3.5/5

Melee combat is crunchy fun
Chainsaw baseball bat, anyone?
Not as slick as you'd like

Despite its rough edges, it's hard to deny that Dead Island does zombie killing right. The first-person adventure takes you through a tropical paradise filled with shambling corpses, each rotting vacationer just waiting to have their heads whacked off with a chainsaw-baseball bat. Yeah, that's right. You can craft your own weapons to create some impressive undead mutilators - you just have to find the right parts to build one.

 Deep down, Dead Island is an RPG, so building increasingly powerful weapons as you progress is a big part of the fun. Also, all of your weapons have durability points and will snap in half if you use them too much, so upgrading them is a necessity. Ultimately, Dead Island is worth your time because the satisfaction you get from driving a knife into a rotting cranium from a first-person perspective is hard to beat.

12. Dead Rising 4

When hell is full, the dead will shop the earth

Release date: Dec 2017 | Formats: Xbox One, PC | Score: 4/5

No more timer!
Great fun to explore
Frank is BACK
The story isn't great

The sheer number of walking dead shown on-screen in the original Dead Rising blew our minds. Tech improvements make Dead Rising 4's expansive crowds less of a big deal, but it still manages to be one of the best zombie-bashing experiences you can get. 

Photojournalist (and protagonist) Frank West is back, packing an impressive arsenal of over-the-top weapons, amongst them a nitrogen-laced machete. It doesn't have the colourful bosses that the original boasted, which is a shame, but dizzying variety of weapons available make wading through the guts and gore totally worth it. 

11. State of Decay

Rots and rots of fun

Release date: April 2015 | Formats: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC | Score: 3/5

Feels genuinely apocalyptically grim
Gets seriously tense
Frame rates can chug
Melee combat's a chore

It's rare to find a game that captures the doom and gloom of the apocalypse quite like State of Decay does. Undead Labs' open-world survival sim puts you in control of a group of survivors as they try to make a home in a world infested with walking corpses.

This isn't just a shooter filled with skull crushing mayhem – you'll need to keep a close eye on your friends if you want to keep them alive. Any of your survivors can leave on a mission and never come back, or go insane and commit suicide, or die from infection. When that happens, they're gone for good; death is permanent. It gets pretty intense, and nothing hits you harder than when your fully-levelled badass decides to off him/herself.

10. Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Why are there always brains on me?

Release date: July 1993 | Formats: SNES, Sega Genesis, Wii

Ultimate in classic zombie gaming
Still terrifying
Hard to find anything to play it on

The only reason LucasArts' legendary top-down shooter isn't higher on this list is that its focus is on movie monsters in general. But the shambling undead play a huge part in the gloriously campy chaos that is Zombies Ate My Neighbors, considering they're the first - and most prominent- enemy that Zeke and Julie encounter. Their appearance is classic zombie: clothes tattered, arms outstretched, a vacant, goofy half-smile on their decomposing faces. But when you watch your neighbor get devoured by these rotting corpses, they become downright terrifying.

Sure, these zombies are somehow vulnerable to water; one spritz from a squirtgun is all it takes to make them explode in a spray of bones. Yet, despite their frailty, their brisk pace and unyielding pursuit of anything with a brain is chilling, particularly to a youngster first experiencing the wonders of 16-bit. And that strange, chewing-meets-laughing Grawnaha sound they make is petrifying. See for yourself.

9. Dying Light: The Following

You'll never get tyre-d out in the countryside

Release date: Feb 2016 | Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Score: 4/5

Personalised vehicles...
With weapons!
To kill zombies!
Non-zombies are dull

Running over zombies was never so much fun. As the DLC for the main game, Dying Light: The Following cuts out most of the parkour from the original and instead puts you behind the steering wheel in a swathe of almost-spotless countryside. Splatter zombies into chunks of gore as you speed across the fields and leave tyre-tracks in their guts as you take on daring jumps. Just be careful you don't get a zombie head trapped in your windscreen wipers. 

We don't really have a zombie-driving game around at the moment, and The Following plugs this niche perfectly. There's even a new, evolved (and much more deadly) version of the Volatiles, who are instant death if you encounter one either whilst in your buggy or sneaking around at night. Regardless, you'll have to dodge them as you drive around investigating a cult who seem to be immune to the zombie virus. The responsive steering makes careering down roads a delight, but beware: the more you swerve out of the way of zombies, the bigger the horde following you will get. Not that it's an issue, because as soon as you take your foot off the brake, sit back, and slam that gas pedal, in no time you'll understand why we love The Following.

8. Plants vs Zombies

The vegetarian undead want graaaaains

Release date: May 2009 | Formats: PS3, Xbox 360, mobile, PC, PS Vita | Score: 4.5/5

Ingenious progression
Addictive
Full of perfect puns
You won't stop

It's fair to say that Plants vs Zombies is a titan in the world of mobile games. Where else are you going to get a combination of horticulture and necrotic homo sapiens? A tactician's dream, the game combines tower-defense with strategy as you defend your home from the hordes of zombies using not weapons, but plants. 

Yes, it's been out for a while, but it's still one the of the most accessible zombie games around. You might not have nightmares after glancing at the shambling undead, but the game shows that zombies don't need to be terrifying to be entertaining. The different types of decaying humans will keep you constantly re-assessing your strategy, and you're given enough new types of plants at the end of each level to ensure that you never get stuck with one approach. The humour and inventiveness of Plants vs Zombies remains fresh years after its initial release. It's the ideal game to play on the go but it's deep enough that you could sink hundreds of hours into it. 

7. Rise of the Tomb Raider: Blood Ties

Not a Lara laughs

Release date: Oct 2016 | Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Score: 4/5

Genuinely unnerving
Great challenges
You have to own the full game

Rise of the Tomb Raider: Blood Ties has one section called Lara's Nightmare, which makes one of my worst fears a reality. You're alone at home, in the middle of the night. Suddenly, there's a crash. Turning around, two bright blue eyes stare into your soul - and you stare back into its empty eyes, before grabbing the nearest shotgun to tackle the zombie infestation which has just hit the Croft Manor. 

Lara's Nightmare sees you defend yourself against hordes of shuffling, blue-eyed zombies who have found their way into Croft Manor, some wearing helmets (making headshots tricky at best), and some wearing breastplates they've nicked from your antique armoury. A neat series of challenges to complete keeps running around the corridors interesting, plus it's distressingly easy to lower your guard and find yourself backed into a corner. If you're looking for a claustrophobic zombie fright-fest, Lara's Nightmare is your best bet.