The lurching gait. The hollow moan. The loose, pallid flesh. Zombies are an intrinsically horrifying concept, and with shows like The Walking Dead becoming pop culture mainstays, they've become ever more common foes for our gaming heroes. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do with a zombie - maybe it's fast, maybe it's slow, maybe it's mundane, maybe it has horrid mutant powers, maybe it's alone, maybe there are a hundred other limping along behind it.
Hundreds of games have featured the shambling undead as antagonists or mindlessly evil forces of nature, but far fewer truly capitalize on the zombie experience. Whether that be the thrill of smashing rotten heads like a month-past-Halloween Jack-o-lantern or the fear of your gorey death at the hands of the inevitable, these are 10 of the best zombie games you can play right now.
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10. Dead Island
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.
9. Dead Rising 4
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.
8. Dying Light: The Following
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.
7. Urban Dead
Wait, one of the best zombie games you can play right now looks like an AngelFire website that hasn't been updated in two decades? Yep. Urban Dead is a browser-based 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. State of Decay
State of Decay is far from the most polished game on this list. Both its original version and the revised Year-One Survival Edition have some performance problems, not to mention controls and a user interface that strain to convey the surprisingly intricate simulation at the game's heart. Play for long enough and those rough edges will fall away, leaving you free to enjoy spinning your own tale of zombie survival. Or zombie non-survival!
Most zombies games don't really let you die - they just flash a game over screen then tell you to try again. State of Decay is more than happy to autosave as your favorite characters are torn apart, because there will always be more procedurally generated survivors out there to join your dangerous cause. Crucially, there's just enough character growth and variety (little bits of their pre-apocalypse lives help dictate their personality and skills) that you never get used to losing survivors, no matter how essential a part of the game it is.