Once upon a time in the gaming universe, there were inhumane creatures which were somewhat of a rarity and this helped create some of the best gaming series which we have ever had. Resident Evil was launched with the success of these creatures as was the arcade hit House of the Dead. These inhumane creatures I am talking about are of course zombies. Everywhere you look in gaming these days it’s “Undead this, undead that,” or “Hey, that looks a lot like the Walking Dead TV show.” There are many things which contribute to the sheer overkill of zombies which we find in gaming today. With the amount of undead roaming around in our industry, it is a surprise that many titles are still among the living and haven’t been inducted into a flesh-ridden death.
It is without a doubt that everyone has at least one memorable gaming moment which involves zombies. Whether it is the first zombie in Resident Evil 1, being chased down by hundreds of the undead in Left 4 Dead or battling against the Nazis in Call of Duty: World at War. These days in gaming it seems as though there are no memorable zombie experiences due to the high number of games which feature these creatures.
As a fan of the zombie genre, I am disappointed with some developers who have merely jumped on the bandwagon and used the popularity of the zombie genre to boost their own sales. Call of Duty with the “Horde” style, Red Dead Redemption with the “American Nightmare” add-on and, more recently, Sleeping Dogs with its “Nightmare” add-on, zombies are everywhere in the gaming industry.
I believe that in order to move forward as a genre we need to take a step back and create more games which don’t look to the zombie way of thinking. Instead look to games such as Alan Wake, Silent Hill (to an extent), The Walking Dead and Dead Space to get a fresh take on how survival horror should be portrayed. Alan Wake was such a well written game with enemies who kept you on your toes, could strike at any time and, at the same time, brought in a sense of fear that the shadows were out to get you. Silent Hill’s enemies have always been that of a strange design but offer something much different to traditional zombies. My worst nightmare is what I think of when I think of Silent Hill. The Walking Dead is one of my favourite games of this year and even though zombies are a major, major part of the story, the gameplay surrounds decisions you make and the storytelling is phenomenal. Dead Space, one of my favourite games, and, much like Alan Wake, made the player look at the psychological side of a thriller and was terrifying at the same time.
It is my belief that we don’t need countless zombie themed games for zombie fans to get their thrills from. There are many more titles which are similar but, at the same time, very different. Call of Duty itself has damaged the undead’s reputation with Nazi zombies alone. We need originality back in the genre and even though Resident Evil 6 attempted to do it, the other enemies let the game down slightly. So please gaming industry, stick to what you know best. War shooters can you make war games? Sandbox games can you make free roaming games? And adventure games can you please continue to make games such as Uncharted and Tomb Raider?