Zombie games

In the 28 Days Later thread (still the most rockin’ zombie movie thread on these Mickey Mouse forums), Don Quixote let out with a brilliant suggestions: why not pay tribute to the Easter Bunny’s ghastly crucifiction then eventual zombification by having an Easter weekend zombie movie marathon? It was a great idea, but I don’t have a television, so I had to alter it slightly and instead decided to finally play my way through Neil Manke’s They Hunger mod for Half-Life.

They Hunger is pretty great and everybody should play it, but it made me realize how few satisfactory zombie games have come out. Although there are a lot of FPS games that try to a greater or lesser extent to do zombies, they all seem to miss the point - that being dumped into a zombie holocaust isn’t about being superman blazing through the zombie hordes, but is really about being isolated and vulnerable (usually in rapidly degenerating social tribes) against an overwhelming army of diseased inhumanity, with only occasional glimpses of the outside world and no real way of “winning” by yourself.

They Hunger does some of this right - in the beginning, it puts you up against overwhelming hordes of zombies that you couldn’t possibly take on. Your main weapon is an umbrella. You keep on hearing flashes on the radio of what is going on outside of your bubble of experience. The entire game is set in this sort of Lovecraftian 1930’s New England village, where everything seems to have been metaphysically backwards and retarded even before a mass zombie invasion started.

Unfortunately, though, it just seems like Half-Life with zombies the more I play it: zombie cops start sniping at you across canyons, zombies start being able to use turret machine guns, ichthyosaurs in the swamps, snarks exploding out of radios, etc. I’m only a third of the way through the entire mod, and already I feel like I’m capable of taking on almost anything with my sniper rifle, my shotgun, my dynomite and my Uzi. Once you feel like you’re superman, the feeling of isolation is lost. I’m just plowing through the same old Half-Life rut again.

Lutes and I were talking about this on ICQ the other day, and we both discussed how the ultimate zombie game and the one most in tune with the zombie cinema mythos would actually ideally be a turn based strategy game. Something like X-Com with zombies. The difference in the gameplay would be that the gameplay would have to be goal based, not purge based (in other words, very few of these “kill all the zombies” missions). The idea is that in the zombie apocalypse to come, the hordes of zombies are going to be overwhelming, ammunition and supplies will be limited and there will be no way to ever kill all of them anyway, so why even try. All of your missions are therefore going to involve trying to stay alive, get some supplies, get in contact with someone, shift your location to someplace less dangerous, get to a hospital, taking out a rival gang while simultaneously fending off some zombies, find a biological lab where you hear someone is working on a cure, &c. You’ll have very few people on your team, so it’ll be important to keep them alive, which is also an important part of zombie movies - camaraderie. I think another form of mission could actually be in real-time: defense missions like whatever that Castle game was where you built your defenses and waited to see if the knights could knock it down. Also, obviously, with ammunition scarce, accuracy would count so there could be a Fallout-style targeting system: do you go for an easy disabling shot that will likely remove the danger, or do you risk wasting the bullet by aiming for the head?

Come on, developers - why hasn’t this game been made?

I remember an old SSI “mini-game” back in the 70s that I used to play that ripped-off the Dawn of the Dead scenario. You controlled a team of humans holed up in a mall while holding off hordes of zombies.

Had a lot of fun with that one. Too bad no-one’s done an electronic version.

There was an italian Dawn of the Dead game way back, used the Zombi name.

Hard to play now though, and I don’t know the language. It runs on pocketdos though for curious folks with pocketpcs.

Sega made a forgetable strategy zombie game called “Flesh Feast” about 3-4 years back. Look for it on eBay. Not terrible, but somewhat along the lines of what you’re thinking Dr. The strategy is mainly killing zombies and surviving than anything else though.

The info:

I love ZAMN…one of those LucasArts games that faded into obscurity but was so fun and full of great, wacky ideas. Still own my SNES cart, one of the few I never traded or sold…


Yea I still have myself a copy of ZATN myself somewhere around here. Great game back several years back that really shined in 2-player. Very whacky and very difficult, the curve really ramped up just a few levels in.

Zombie Revenge for the Dreamcast!

Not enough bullets, so you have to hit, kick, and pummel zombies. Half shooter, half fighting game.

The only annoying thing about it is the perennial boss fights, but it is fun.

Also, never played them, but aren’t you really talking about the Resident Evil games?

Something more cerebral though. In RE you don’t get the chance to avoid your enemies, you can’t decided to retreat and go another path. The Post Apocalypse dying human society out numbered by the horde of flesh eaters. Its so desperate and overwhelming that you can’t afford to go in and slaughter everyone. As DrCrypt points out, at the end you generally have some really pumping weapons that produce a visceral slaughter. You need the RPG’s general progression to better equipment thats matched by increasingly difficult enemies. Its not a Zombie game without tension.

I disagree there. Part of playing Resident Evil well is knowing when to fight and when to run right past a zombie and not engage. You may not be able to find another route, but you can usually make decisions about how to move through the route you’re given, a lot of the time without fighting.

I don’t think it’s what DrCrypt is looking for, but the RE games are great zombie fun.


RE was not a very good zombie game, there was nothing about the zombies that made you react like you should. There were a couple in every hallway in between the puzzles. The hordes were all offscreen in areas you weren’t allowed to go.

There are two responses to a zombie attack-

  1. hole up and try to hold them off with your hardy band until whatever you are waiting for happens. Ammo at a premium, you need to survive the night with just those 4 clips for the SKS and 34 rounds for the S&W revolver.
    Couldn’t do this in RE, because you had some dumbass quest. The RE games have some really weirdly motivated protagonists. My ass is getting a gun and the first working car I find, then leaving Racoon City. If I can’t do that, I’m finding a nice place to stay and holing there.

  2. Run for it. Try to make your way to whereever it is that you want to go. Time is at a premium. RE had some levels like this, but you weren’t trying to escape, you were trying to complete the quest.

You should start with no weapons, have to scavenge from cop cars and pawn shops, etc. You really need to get that “Everyone else is dead or a zombie but me, the black guy, the hot chick, and the vaguely untrustworthy scientist”

I should be the black guy, anything less isn’t good enough.

I appreciate what you’re trying to say above, but your ideas for the game don’t sound like they would be very fun.

I appreciate what you’re trying to say above, but your ideas for the game don’t sound like they would be very fun.

Umm, yes they do?


Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you why we shouldn’t be using the “F” word. I want to play Dr. Crypt and Jason Lutes’ zombie game, but then dwinn comes along and just splashes irrefutable cold water on the whole thing.

You kids and your fun.


fills bucket back up with more cold water

For one, Tom, my response was directly to Ben’s post, which referred to an action-oriented RE-style zombie game, as opposed to what Crypt and Lutes were discussing, which was an RTS x-Com- like zombie game.

When I read Ben’s post, I thought: “What would RE have been like if I’d of had the option to to just forget about the other STARS team members and bolt?” The answer: It would not have been much fun. I like the RE games having an insane plot and seeing it through to the ending. I think Capcom tried the “get out of the city alive” plot with RE: Survivor, and that game was the stinkiest of stinky poo.

The answer: It would not have been much fun.


I’m just joshing you, dwinn.

Actually, I’d be into what Ben was talking about because it would be different and more in line with what zombie movies are like. The RE games are more about adventure game conventions with a few gratuitous action-ey bits tying everything together. The actual gameplay has very little of the zombie movie feel.


set down bucket Well OK then. And I was all gonna blast you about previous Animal Crossing remarks as well. :)

I think that kind of game bugs me because any pen-and-paper game I’ve ever played where you were just supposed to be “regular people” meant that you were going to die right quick. In a zombie world, that means that if you get bit or scratched, you eventually die. No red potions, no blue herbs…

Or maybe I was just scarred as a youth from playing too much Ghosts and Goblins on the NES.

I’m wondering how you guys decided it should be turn based. Turn based games invite me to exercise my compulsion to carefully micromanage, which seems exactly counter to the zombie experience. In this game, I want to be frantically setting up make shift defenses, and concocting unlikely weapons (hey there’s a good jagged alliance angle). There should be periods of uneasy anticipation, punctuated by the inevitable undead assault, in which i’m running around shoring up a barrier or bashing in the odd skull trying to keep the whole thing together. i see this as first person game, but with a squad of expendable and varingly stupid or counter productive ai teammates. in fact, management of your fellow humans could be central to the game - something like “the thing”, but with a richer command set, individual personalities, and differing levels of courage and cooperativeness. neat idea.

Flesh Feast was horrible.

RE does get some things right though.

You want to give the player limited resources, and make sure the Zombies are slow, stupid, relentless, and only stop when you kill them really dead.

They’re the worlds dumbest hive mind, but they’re effective because they all want to eat your brains!

I think turn based is a terrible way to go for a zombie game. The point is that they may be slow, but you need to stop for food, ammo, rest, sleep, etc. They don’t.

If you want a turn-based Zombie game, just take the old game Daleks and replace the daleks with Zombies.

Your Power Pill