Zombies make marvelous antagonists. They’re plodding dark mirrors parodying our society’s short-sightedness. They’re plentiful and emotionless eaters of flesh, which makes them perfect cannon fodder for action films and twitch shooters. Their wasted visages serve the purposes of both horror and humor with equal effectiveness. They’ve been a part of the video game landscape for decades – so long that they’ve carved out their own subgenre: the “zombie game.”
Strangely, the still-shambling corpses of the damned have been important to some of gaming’s more notable narratives and innovations.
Here are the 19 best zombie games of all time.
19. Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a bizarre, colorful, and expansive SNES cartridge from the golden days of LucasArts. It’s a wickedly funny game that relies on adorable and bizarre animation for most of the laughs, and the delightful cartoon enemies are half the fun. Before the journey is over you’ll battle space bugs, save cheerleaders, leap on trampolines, and fight a giant baby. Beyond the garish trappings, it’s a very well designed cooperative shooter that manages to find environmentally-destructive uses from everything from squirt guns to rocket launchers. Since the main thrust of each level is rescuing civilians rather than defeating enemies, it also requires a lot more thought to finish than your average arcade style game, a design innovation that adds a great deal to the challenge and replayability.
Remakes of House of the Dead 1 and 2 were recently confirmed.">18. The House of the Dead
Along with Resident Evil, this iconic on-rails arcade shooter helped restore zombies' pop culture relevance in the '90s and aid in the revival of the zombie film genre a decade later. In a 2013 interview with Paul Weedon, George A. Romero, long considered father of zombie movies, credited House of the Dead and RE with popularizing modern zombies "more than anything else."
Remakes of House of the Dead 1 and 2 were recently confirmed.
17. State of Decay 2
The State of Decay series, introduced as an Xbox Live Arcade game in 2013, trades in the genre's typical fast-paced brain-bashing for a slower paced focus on survival and community building. The 2018 sequel built on this zombie-sandbox premise, expanding in size and adding four-player co-op while maintaining the tenseness that accompanies the threat of permadeath.
16. Arizona Sunshine
Arizona Sunshine is the sole VR-only entry on our list. It's a considerably deep game for the platform, featuring a campaign, horde mode, and co-op capability for each. Arizona Sunshine is carried by its beautiful desert setting and satisfying, head-popping gunplay. Its increased immersion as a VR game helps it stand out among gaming's other zombie-killing adventures.
15. Dying Light
Survival mechanics meet grappling hooks in Dying Light, a big, messy genre mash up. Dying Light combines some of Minecraft’s greatest strengths like scavenging for materials in an open world, item crafting, and scary monsters that come out at night with solid hand to hand combat, a fun and speedy traversal system, and grappling hooks. Zombies and grappling hooks: a match made in video game heaven.
14. Urban Dead
Think of it as Animal Crossing for the undead, but online, persistent, text-based, and completely social. No graphics to speak of, no NPCs... just thousands of real-world players surviving as scavengers or hunting down their former allies as newborn zombies. You only have a few action points a day to issue commands, after which you have to simply wait to move again, and the tension of anticipating another turn becomes almost unbearable as you start to consider all the awful things that might be happening while you’re asleep. Urban Dead is nearly a decade old, but its innovations are still strikingly unique. Every corpse you encounter or gang you stumble across is a living, breathing player, and the consequences of surviving in a world where both the living and the dead act with cunning makes this a frightfully exciting simulation. Thirteen years after its release, Urban Dead remains a captivating experiment in game design.
13. Call of Duty: World at War
World War II, zombies, and multiplayer shooters... together at last. Nazis have long been identified with occultism, (both in reality and popular fiction) and Treyarch’s decision to go all-in on the campy grindhouse aesthetic changed the face of multiplayer shooters. Zombies helped lighten the mood in a series that was increasingly mired in its own self-importance, reminding players, critics, and creators that it is all a game.
12. Dead Rising
Following the success of its Resident Evil series, Capcom introduced a new, lighthearted take on the zombie genre with Dead Rising. Absent is the tense horror of Resident Evil, replaced by a fast-paced zombie slaughterfest coated in camp. Its biggest strength, however, lies in its weapon variety. With hordes of zombies to kill, Dead Rising's mall setting enables countless ways for protagonist Frank West to lay the dead back to rest. From clothing stores to hair salons, toy stores to food courts, each of Dead Rising's locations presents players with a memorable variety of deadly everyday items.
The series built on this in future iterations by adding the ability to craft combo weapons, which ranged from explosive sledgehammers to sentry kittens.
11. They Are Billions
They Are Billions, namely its survival mode, is an excellent mashup of zombie horror and RTS gameplay. Players must build and manage a post-apocalyptic city, all the while knowing hordes of undead are en route to tear it all to the ground. With an emphasis on defense — a necessity considering you'll be facing thousands of zombies at once — They Are Billions uniquely progresses from a city builder to a tense, often overwhelming game of survival.
The survival genre owes a great debt to DayZ, which began life as a mod for military simulator ARMA II. DayZ contrasted the surrealism of a zombie infestation with the hyperrealism of exposure, infection, hunger, and the degeneration of human nature in the face of disaster. You simply never knew whether the next person you met was out to help you or murder you. Just how much fun can playing as a cowering, nearly powerless victim in a world full of lumbering AI zombies and ruthless human scavengers really be? Turns out it’s a addictively captivating and exhilarating experience. Everything from Fortnite to Rust owes DayZ a tremendous debt for its willingness to throw unarmed players into a hostile land with of their fellow humans and see what happens next. Turns out the zombies are rarely the real monsters.
9. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
How do you make your surprisingly-successful open world cowboy game even better? Release a reimagining of the western drama where all the characters you know and love now eat the flesh of the living! Undead Nightmare was pure zombie-blasting bliss with a healthy dose of supernatural armageddon to boot. Turns out John Marston was born to slay the undead and ride the horses of the apocalypse. Undead Nightmare set the gold standard for single-player DLC and remains a standout example of reimagined excellence.
8. Planescape: Torment
Planescape is one of those games that you occasionally hear is really good and then you look up one screenshot and go “nope, I’m never playing that” and walk away and your life is worse for it. Listen, I get that the appearance is anachronistic, but seriously, this game is too good to miss. It’s so good I can barely find words worthy to describe the magnitude of its goodness. It is a crime against life itself not to play this game.
It’s an RPG about being immortal, crammed with more undead than you can shake a severed limb at, including zombies assigned to alternately sad and hilarious purposes. The necrotic atmosphere permeates every moment in the game: you start the story laying on a slab, your best friend is a disembodied skull, and there are so many dead things running around that there’s a special ability dedicated just to talking with them. Torment is a deeply biting and tragic RPG that turns practically every trope and convention of the genre on its h
7. Plants vs. Zombies
The original Plants vs. Zombies blended solid, approachable tower defense gameplay with whimsical charm, leading to its mass appeal; it became a hit among both the hardcore and casual audiences, on PC, consoles, and mobile alike. It found immediate success in simplicity, and longevity in its well-crafted variety of plants and zombies. Its addictive, wave-based loop spawned a number of official follow-ups and countless other imitators, making this family friendly take on the undead worthy of a spot on our list.
6. Resident Evil 4
Though it reportedly went through four versions before being released, Capcom's scrupulous development process paid off in 2005 with a horror masterpiece. From its opening, panic-inducing run-in with the villagers through its final boss and jet-ski escape, RE4 is filled with memorable scares and set pieces still discussed nearly 15 years later. It's equally smart and scary in its design, which led IGN to call it the "best survival horror game ever created" at the time it was released — an argument that could still be made to this day.
5. The Last of Us
Yes, the clickers are technically big fungus-people, but really they’re zombies. And yes, this is largely a game about throwing bottles and bricks at people, but who cares? It’s scary, it’s heartbreaking, it’s infuriating, and it’s beautiful. A generation after launch, The Last of Us remains a benchmark against which great video game drama is compared.
4. Resident Evil 2 Remake
Resident Evil 2 is a triumph of survival horror, a sprawling, weirdly compelling epic that somehow managed to overcome its famously lackluster controls. And with those control issues remedied in the 2019 remake, alongside vastly improved graphics and various other tweaks, RE2 has only gotten better with time.
RE2 allowed you to experience a single terrifying night through the unique perspective of two victims, their occasionally overlapping paths both snaking toward horrific discoveries in a city torn apart by an unleashed bioweapon. It’s a tremendously moody and atmospheric game with great pacing, a growing sense of dread, nice monster design, frequent jump scares, and just enough resource scarcity to keep things tense through the end. It’s also absolutely packed with slow, old school zombies, and even the weakest among them can be a threat in the right circumstances.
3. The Walking Dead: Season 1
“Carly will remember that.” What a gut punch.
Long ago, before the TV show sucked, the Walking Dead made us giggle a little and made us cry a lot. Through the masterfully-written inaugural season, Telltale proved that point and click adventure games could somehow manage to terrify. The writing and delivery are minimal and masterful, with the bulk of the effort spent creating flawed characters we love or loathe and then stripping them away from us one by one. By the end we wonder if anybody is getting out of this alive. The Walking Dead Season 1 helped kick off a revival of adventure game storytelling which continues to influence game design today. Telltale as we knew it may be gone, but their horror masterpiece remains undead in our hearts.
2. Resident Evil HD Remaster
The original Resident Evil doesn’t boast quite the scope of its sprawling sequel, but the tighter, almost claustrophobic design of the mansion often works to heighten the horror. The constant threat of the fearsome double-reanimated Crimson Heads in areas you’ve previously cleared fuels a compounding sense of dread that you’re in continual zombie danger no matter how heavily armed you become. The legendary cheesy dialogue is icing on the cake.
Also, if you finish the game in under three hours, you can blow up zombies with a bottomless rocket launcher.
1. Left 4 Dead 2
Around the same time Treyarch was bringing Zombies into World at War, Valve was introducing us all to their own cooperative take on battling the forces of undeath. Left 4 Dead pitted teams of four allies against mobs of zombies ruled by an invisible enemy: the innovative AI director, a carefully constructed protocol designed to dynamically influence the game as it unfolded. The result was a ridiculously replayable zombie shooter.
Only a year later, Valve brought us Left 4 Dead 2, building upon that successful formula with a familiar yet greatly enhanced team-based shooter. Its gameplay tweaks, improved campaigns, new weaponry (including melee weapons), additional modes (Scavenge and Realism), and introduction of new zombie types (Jockey, Spitter, and Charger) make Left 4 Dead 2 one of the best co-op games of all time and our pick for the best zombie game ever made