The best zombie games can scare and thrill and turn your stomach in a matter of seconds. More often than not they're rooted in survival, where you're forcibly thrown into post-apocalyptic circumstances, where death is likely and provisions are scarce. Resident Evil popularized the zombie genre way back in the mid-90s, and has returned to prominence with its first-person slants on the formula in Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil: Village, and its modern day remakes of the classics, including Resident Evil 2, 3 and 4. Some lean heavier on narrative decisions, such as Telltale's esteemed The Walking Dead series, but I think it's fair to say that all of the best zombie games are terrifying - read on for the best zombie games scaring the crap out of us today.
The best zombie games are...
10. Project Zomboid
Developer: The Indie Stone
If Project Zomboid wasn't still in early access despite first being put up for sale way back in 2011, it would definitely be higher on this list. Zomboid's old-school isometric pixel graphics belie what may be the most ambitious zombie apocalypse simulation ever created. And don't be fooled, this really is meant to be a simulation of what would happen to most "survivors" if the majority of their neighbors turned into zombies: they'd die.
There's no evac helicopter coming if you can survive long enough, or any other formal objectives (at least not in the main mode): your death is inevitable and what you do until then is up to you. But if you want to live more than a few days, I'd suggest building yourself a nice little fort and maybe getting a farm going. You can only scavenge for so long before the food - or your luck - runs out. Project Zomboid is great to play alone or in multiplayer now, and I can only imagine how gripping it will be if the developers ever manage to complete their vision.
9. World War Z
Developer: Saber Interactive
Platforms: PS5, PC, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
No one part of World War Z is all that impressive on its own, but if you're looking for a way to mow down hundreds, no, thousands of zombies with a group of friends or strangers, there's no better game for you. It's loosely based on the 2013 Brad Pitt movie (which was even more loosely based on a 2006 novel), but that's mostly excuse to repurpose the one memorable thing about the film: humongous hordes of zombies that rush through streets and crash around corners like a river through a broken dam.
It clearly takes some cues from the Left 4 Dead franchise (RIP) but adds in some modern gaming standbys like selectable classes with persistent progression. You could play as a Slasher who gets extra health from taking out enemies in quick succession, a Fixer who lays down traps to secure areas, or one of four other classes. Whoever you decide to level up first, you'll get to unload plenty of lead into moving walls of rotten flesh.
8. Dying Light: The Following
Platforms: PS5, PC, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
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.
Techland's follow-up, Dying Light 2, is another great zombie game - but Dying Light: The Following is where the blueprint for the series really shines.
7. Urban Dead
Developer: Kevan Davis
Wait, one of the best zombie games you can play right now looks like an Angelfire website that still has a Y2K countdown clock? Yep. Urban Dead is a browser-based (opens in new tab) zombie MMORPG that has been running since 2005, hosting an endless war between desperate survivors and roving hordes of undead. Don't let the looks fool you - this game runs in real time, there's quite a lot to it, and it is intense.
Every in-game action depletes your pool of stamina (no, there aren't microtransactions that let you buy more), so survivors have to balance traveling, foraging, and barricading to make sure they're always holed up somewhere safe when they tire out. Zombies who run out of stamina far from a horde are just as quick to be cut down. Hopefully Urban Dead's brilliant take on survival and social dynamics in the apocalypse will keep rolling for another few decades to come.
6. Death Road to Canada
Developer: Rocketcat Games, Madgarden
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
With its grindhouse gore, chiptune surf rock, and chunky pixel aesthetics, Death Road to Canada is easily the strangest game on this list. Death Road to Canada uses the classic "I hear it's safe there" premise to kick off a desperate roadtrip from Florida to the land of maple syrup and polite strangers, straight through the overrun rest stops and cities of the United States. Many aspects of your journey are randomly generated, including the characters you start with or later recruit, and each survivor comes with their own stats that influence how well they do at fighting off undead or recruiting dogs to their cause. You know, typical apocalypse stuff.
The random events that unfold on the road and in the top-down, zombie-dodging segments feed into one another; a few good supply runs mean you'll have enough gas and food to choose riskier responses, but getting overconfident in either part of the game could quickly turn deadly. And this is not a game that's afraid to perma-kill your randomly generated darlings. It smarts even more if you use the optional create-a-survivor feature to seed your game world with pixelated versions of your friends and family. No matter who you need to leave behind, you'd better be ready to start up that car and get gone if you want to make it north of the border.
5. State of Decay 2
Developer: Undead Labs
Platforms: PC, Xbox One
State of Decay 2 doesn't fix all of the flaws of its predecessor, but it does expand its strengths. What those are, if you aren't already familiar, are all about helping you tell your own unique tale of survival in a zombie apocalypse via a set map dotted with resources and a continual trickle of procedurally generated survivors to befriend and play as (or ignore and take their stuff when they die). Where Project Zomboid leans hard into the notion of being an average person in an unwinnable situation, the State of Decay series tries to make sure you're having a good time with picturesque midwestern scenes and gorey fun combat, even as your food runs out and zombies beat down your gate.
The coolest new thing in State of Decay 2, though, is easily the long-awaited addition of multiplayer. Inviting friends in to help defend and scavenge for your settlement exponentially expands the possibilities of procedurally generated storytelling. And it finally gives you a chance to test out all those zombie apocalypse survival plans you've spent way too long hashing out with buddies.
4. Resident Evil 2 (2019 remake)
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
The Resident Evil 2 remake walks a narrow line between the slow horror of the early Resident Evil games and the faster (though still deliberate) action of the later-yet-pre-Resident Evil 7 era. In so doing it manages to be both a fitting tribute to the original Resident Evil 2 and the most vital, playable RE game in years. The trick is, as you might expect from its ranking among the best zombie games, the zombies. Even though the remake's movement and aiming controls feel modern and streamlined, every zombie can take so many bullets - even headshots - and just keep getting back up. Maybe right in front of you, or maybe a few minutes later when you think you're safe.
Expert aim is not enough to guarantee your survival in the Resident Evil 2 remake. The most important thing is once again discretion, restoring "survival" to "survival horror" as you conserve ammo by shooting to stun, rather than kill. Sometimes you may even decide that the zombies can just have that hallway and you'd rather keep the bullets. In terms of inspiring raw terror, it still isn't quite as potent as that other big Resident Evil remake. But it's arguably more fun to play, which secures the Resident Evil 2 remake a nice slot of its own on our list of the best zombie games.
3. Telltale Games' The Walking Dead
Platforms: PC, PS5, PS4, PS3, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Xbox 360, iOS, Android
It would be a grave sin not to include Telltale's The Walking Dead (opens in new tab) as one of the best zombie games of all time. While other zombie titles would have you endlessly chopping off heads, or blowing undead brains to bits with a shotgun, this choice-driven adventure explores the human side of the zombie apocalypse. Instead of testing your aim, this adaptation tests your social decision-making and your nerves--because damn, there's some messed up stuff that happens in this game.
You play as Lee Everett, a convicted murderer who finds himself as the protector of an orphaned little girl named Clementine. As you encounter other survivors, you'll end up making decisions down the line that have dire repercussions for your group members. But the worst part (yet simultaneously the best) is that you develop a connection with the characters in your party. So, when those bad things start to happen, you'll feel like it was your friend that you just saw get eaten alive rather than a mere video game character. People will die, the unexpected will happen, and decisions will need to be made. And you'll just have to live with the consequences.
2. Resident Evil HD Remaster
Platforms: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
The thing that the original Resident Evil still gets right that so many other zombie games miss is the abject loneliness of being one of the only people with a pulse within a several mile radius. That dreadful desolation remains perfectly intact in Resident Evil HD Remaster, which is actually a slightly modernized version of the Resident Evil GameCube remake that came out in 2002. Don't get us wrong, the 2015 re-remake could have done more (those pre-rendered backgrounds are looking a bit blurry these days) but what is there remains a seminal survival horror classic.
Far from sliding into a high spot on our list through nostalgia alone, the Resident Evil remake is one of the greatest zombie games in large part because of the interesting way it thinks about the undead. Especially what to do with one that you think has stopped moving for good. You'll want to make sure by putting zombies down with a headshot or burning their corpse afterwards, because otherwise it could rise again later on as the hideously powerful horror called a "crimson head." Just saying the name is shiver-inducing.
1. The Last of Us
Developer: Naughty Dog
Platforms: PS5, PS4, PS3
Almost six years after earning our top spot for Game of the Year for 2013, The Last of Us remains best zombie game ever made. It takes you on a dangerous cross-country journey through an overgrown, largely post-human United States. In addition to mushroom-brained zombies that are waiting to rip your jugular out with their teeth, the world is filled with desperate gun-toting survivalists, a repressive government, and savage rebel groups. And best of all, you get to do the whole thing with a snarky teenage girl alternately making fun of you and saving your life.
Joel and Ellie's quest is as dark as it is tense. The dilapidated, creepy environments set the perfect tone for the stealth/survival gameplay that cranks up the suspense to almost unbearable levels. This isn't your typical go-in-guns-blazing zombie game. You'll have to sneak past stronger foes, conserve your ammo, and scavenge for supplies. The action-packed moments let you feel every bone-crushing, face-smashing blow, and the dramatic scenes are just as emotionally engaging. If you're looking for the ultimate zombie survival experience, The Last of Us is by far the best you're going to get.
The Last of Us 2 could just as easy fit here, of course, but you have to play the first to appreciate the second - and you can do so by way of its enhanced and remastered variation, The Last of Us: Part 1, which launched towards the end 2022.
Looking for more games to try out? Here's our pick of the best horror games.