Top 20 Zombie Survival Games That Are Thrilling

Mr. X from the "Resident Evil 2" remake stares ahead at Jill or Leon. Even when he's standing there, face like a raisin in the sun, he still scare the living daylights out of me.

There is no creature more prevalent or iconic in horror than the zombie. Rotting or bare-boned, aggressive or chilled to death, shuffling on the ground or faster than a cheetah, these beings are always eager to tear flesh asunder or consume brains to ease the pain of being dead. Just as nothing is more common in horror than these creatures, there’s nothing more satisfying in video games than punting their heads off their shoulders, outrunning their slow speeds, or shooting them point blank with a sawed-off shotgun. If you’re looking for an experience like this but have trouble finding a good title, then take a look at these 20 zombie survival games with thrilling stories and gameplay.


20) Project Zomboid - (PC)

Starting off the list is an indie title that has remained strong and steady despite being infested with the undead. Starting as a tech demo in 2011, “Project Zomboid” was released on Steam in November 2013 for Early Access. The game amassed a considerable following in the ensuing decade, notoriety, and a devoted modding community.

In the game, the player is tasked with creating a character with a unique appearance, occupation, and trait before spawning into one of the four towns that make up Knox County, Kentucky. The government has quarantined the county due to a mysterious infection, and zombies now dot the landscape. The main goal: survive as long as possible.

This is a game where the process of survival and the player’s journey matter more than the story's progression. There is a plot, but it’s purposely kept to the side to give way to the real purpose of this game. It is the ultimate sandbox, and I’m not just saying that because the game also has an incredible sandbox mode. There is a heavy emphasis on player freedom and creativity, with every choice being entirely controlled by the player.

Stores and homes can be scavenged; zombies can be avoided and fought; cars can be driven from point A to point B;  skills can be learned by reading books and magazines, etc. Every action the player chooses benefits their survival and passes the time, keeping their story going and keeping them alive. 


  • With insane modding capabilities, a day/night cycle, challenges, weather patterns, and a roguelike mechanic where death means the end of a run, this game can last for several hundred hours and create not only horrifying scenarios but compelling narratives. I wouldn’t be surprised if people turned their runs in this game into full-length stories or novels. 
  • Despite being the cause of the game’s setting, the zombies are more delegated to the background. Compared to starvation, severe weather, and lack of resources, they become less of a threat and more of a nuisance. Unless they form mobs, then they’re a whole new problem.

The player wanders into a zombie-infested bathroom during a scavenging session. Someone forgot about rule #3.


19) No More Room in Hell - (PC)

As George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” said, when there is no more room in Hell, the dead shall walk the earth. Romero’s zombie movies have inspired a multitude of horror films, comics, and games, with this particular game from Matt “Maxx” Kazan and his team being no exception.

The titular game “No More Room In Hell” originally started as a mod for “Half-Life 2” before being developed into a full video game and released on Steam on Halloween of 2013. Players are tasked to rid the maps of zombies, fulfill obligations according to game modes, and provide consistent cover fire for teammates in a world where the dead outnumber the living.

This is another game where the story is left to the wayside for combat and gameplay. “No More Room In Hell” is an 8-player co-op with two different modes of gameplay: Objective mode, where players follow instructions and reach certain goals on maps, and Survival mode, which pits players against waves of zombies with new abilities and item drops.

Players are allowed to change difficulty depending on the mode, with the fluxes in difficulty affecting drop and respawn rates. A menagerie of weapons is available from the get-go: guns, bats, wire, explosives, etc. The only thing the player needs to focus on - aside from blasting the undead and not their companions - is to let loose and have fun.


  • This is one of the few titles on the list that’s free on Steam, so this can be grabbed and booted up anytime to play. The game is light on story but that doesn’t deter the player from having fun.
  • There is an added infection mechanic, where if a zombie bites a player, they can choose to hide their bite and stay silent, or ask another player to put them out of their misery. This creates a much-needed layer of tension between players, as anyone could be infected at any point.

The player aims for the zombie and uses their flashlight as a melee weapon. Gotta put your elbow into it! 


18) Daymare: 1998 - (PC/PS4/Xbox One)

Something that’s been bugging me lately about horror games is how unilateral they are. One story perspective is good for one story, but sometimes the player wants variety and a complete picture of the world they want to immerse themselves. This is a part of the concept of “Daymare: 1998”, which came about when the developers decided to create their IP when their first project, a “Resident Evil 2” fan-make, received a cease-and-desist from Capcom. Invader Studios, in conjunction with Destructive Creations and All In! Games released the entire game on September 17th, 2019.

During that time, the game received mediocre scores and praise for being a return to classic survival horror. The story follows the happenings in the sleepy town of Keen Sight, Idaho, on August 20th, 1998, after an accident involving a biochemical agent caused a zombie outbreak. The player can explore three sides of the story, recover documents, and control damage before the outbreak reaches critical levels.

This game unfolds from 3 different perspectives: a member of the elite squad known as HADES named Liev, helicopter pilot David Hale, and Samuel Walker, a forest ranger from the Vermillion Forest around Keen Sight. Each character has a different route that covers the angles other stories don’t, painting a complete picture of how one night and one accident can go wrong. The story is framed around a new game mode that may seem unnecessary but perfectly matches the aesthetic the game is trying to aim for: classic 90s mode.

This mode is what the developers state the game should be set to for a good experience, and it shows by increasing the difficulty and setting similar parameters from older “Resident Evil” games. Enemies are harder to kill, ammo is less plentiful, and reloading can only be done with one button, so more weight is placed on combat evasion and encounter timing rather than killing every enemy in sight. This is a welcome challenge for new and veteran horror fans alike and forms tension in a game that is already wound up tightly with the stakes of the narrative.


  • The game is challenging, even in more accessible modes, so learning the ropes and maneuvering the maps can become problematic if the player’s skills are not up to snuff. The strengths in gameplay outweigh the weaknesses in bugs and story content but they do work well together to create a genuinely tense experience.

Agent Liev of HADES sees the bioagent gas swarming the town and realizes it won’t be long before he succumbs to the same fate as the other citizens. If the mask won’t work, then where can he take shelter?


17) World War Z - (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S/Switch/Stadia)

Speaking of games that carry more than one perspective, this particular game carries not only multiple perspectives but multiple classes of characters. “World War Z” is loosely based on the novel of the same name, but takes place in the same universe as the feature film from 2013. The game was developed and released on April 16th, 2019 by Saber Interactive Inc. of “Evil Dead” video game fame. The plot is split between several locations around the world, i.e., New York, Jerusalem, Moscow, etc. as a zombie apocalypse unfolds. Each story follows a new group of survivors and their struggles with the waves of rotting flesh around them, as well as their search for hope in trying times.

The zombies in “World War Z” operate on a different level than others in the genre. Whereas others are slower and have less perambulation, these zombies can run in hordes and use each other as flesh walls to swarm areas or bust down walls like waves. The game can show up to 1,000 zombies on the screen, and they can all charge at you. It’s never wise to take them head-on, but individual zombies can be fought without hesitation. 

The story campaigns provide a kaleidoscopic view of a world at war, whereas other games with similar content and missions only tackle a single perspective or story. One campaign can cover a group of survivors trying to reach the safety of a building’s roof, while another can follow a squad of soldiers who rescue a scientist who has access to an orbital particle cannon. Everything builds the world into something that feels more alive and complete, painting a large picture of what could actually happen during a zombie apocalypse in the real world.


  • There are seven classes available with abilities that range from offensive to defensive. Each carries its own type of weapon and perks that can be unlocked with progression in the game. There’s always a new way to play and a new way to see the story.

A survivor readies a gun as they see zombies climbing and running into the door of their shelter. Does anyone else hear a low rumbling?


16) Propagation - (PC)

Horror is a strange genre to execute on VR. It administers a heavy dose of realism into whatever game is being played and manifests genuine stress and anxiety in the player without ludonarrative dissonance taking root. This is why “Propagation” is so interesting to me. Developed by WanadevStudio, “Propagation” is an indie VR game that dropped back in September 2020 and has garnered a cult following and a future sequel. The player starts in a ransacked and abandoned subway with only a gun to defend themselves. They’re forced to stay in one spot and kill any zombie coming near them, praying that rescue is possible.

I understand how VR has limitations in code and command. Still, VR titles are often developed with an unfair balance of experience and gameplay, especially in the horror genre. Exciting concepts and ideas are presented, but anything involving movement or action is abandoned for the sake of haunted house jumpscares and temporary terror.

However, “Propagation” embraces the limitations of VR by trapping the player in a situation where escape is impossible while giving them the means to defend themself. The game builds tension while slowly increasing the number of enemies, leaving the player panicking over the direction of the next zombie, and whether it will be a runner or a walker. The game is simple but effective in creating a genuinely terrifying experience that haunts the player long after they’ve placed the headset down.


  • This game can be completed in less than an hour, but it does get the adrenaline flowing and the heart pumping. It’s a unique experience that provides a taste of what the developers can do and what the sequel will contain. 

The player opens fire on a zombie wearing riot armor as it draws closer. Wait, that zombie can’t shoot that gun, right?


15) ObsCure - (PS2/Xbox/Windows)

The early 2000s saw a rise in obscure horror PS2 games that never quite reached significant potential or hype until a decade or so after their release. Titles like “Haunting Ground” and “Cold Fear” broke new ground in horror while building on prior horror tropes but came and went in the public eye. And this game is no exception, making its title ironic. Hydravision Entertainment’s “ObsCure” dropped back in October of 2004 to limited fanfare in the North American market and faded into the same level of obscurity in other countries.

The player is introduced to Leafmore High School, where multiple students have disappeared and the staff continues playing the dumb card. After their friend vanishes overnight, a group of students investigate the grounds and uncover a massive conspiracy involving the search for eternal youth and the horrors of biological manipulation.

“Obscure” wears its inspirations of 90s survival horror on its sleeve, sporting fixed camera angles, combat similar to “Resident Evil,” an option for tank controls, and an interesting story that goes into left field in the second half. The game diverges from its inspirations by emphasizing two-player co-op during the campaign. It introduces a mechanic that allows items to be combined for greater effects, i.e., taping a flashlight to a handgun for light dispensing and shooting. While these are simple additions, they are welcome ones, creating a new mix on a horror game that would be a drop in the bucket without them.

As for the zombie threat infesting the school, it’s less supernatural in origin and more biochemical, with the culprit being a rare spore that can overtake a human body and turn it into a sunlight-hating moss monster with an aura of death. The only choices the player has when confronted with them are remembering how to defeat creatures from “Alan Wake” or smashing windows with melee weapons to let the sunshine in. You can’t keep waiting for the world to stop hating, but you can stop the insanity surrounding the school before more people go missing or worse.


  • Not much can be said about a video game where the dialogue is campy, tank controls are an option, and the fashion styles unironically include frosted tips. However, the game's appeal revolves around these elements, creating a “so bad it’s good” atmosphere that is hard to stay away from.

One of the students of Leafmore High School smashes a window to dissipate the dark aura of the zombies. Let there be light!


14) The Walking Dead - (PC/Android/iOS/PS3/PS4/Vita/Xbox 360/Xbox One/Switch)

Talking about this series can’t be done anymore without confusing it with the TV show. “The Walking Dead” is a go-to for zombie fiction in pop culture, and does illustrate how humans can be both the heroes and the villains when surrounded by darkness. Based on the graphic novel of the same name from 2003, the video game was developed by Telltale Games and released episodically starting on April 24th, 2012. Some characters in the game are ripped from the comic pages, while others are written for the game.

The main character of the game, Lee Everett, is caught in the throws of the zombie apocalypse while being transported to prison for the murder of a senator. After the car escorting him crashes, he seeks shelter in a nearby home and finds Clementine, an eight-year-old whose parents were in Savannah, Georgia, when the infection began to spread. He takes the girl under his wing, and the two start on a journey to Savannah that becomes fraught with more dangers than the zombies around them. 

What makes the game unique from other zombie survival titles is how there is less emphasis placed on action and more on character interaction and development. The story is linear but relies on dialogue and communication to progress. Several comments chosen by the player will be remembered one way or another. Other characters can lose trust in the player and by association Lee, if said comments go too far or cause adverse reactions.

Decisions made by the player will push the boundaries of their humanity. With no morality scale, it will be hard to tell if specific actions taken were truly right or incredibly wrong. Every action has an equal or opposite reaction, and the player's actions may reach farther than they can see.


  • While regarded as a classic, the tragedies behind Telltale Studios and the game’s development leave a nasty stain on the game and the playing experience. What's more disappointing is how the game offers an illusion of choice, keeping the main story beats each time with only variations in how the characters get to each point.
  • However, the game's overall merit and heart provide an exciting experience of decision-based gameplay in the horror genre. 

As he talks to Shawn about the zombies, Lee works on some lumber for fence fortification. He may remember this, but I don’t think I may.


13) Days Gone - (PC/PS4)

Sometimes the best way to shake up a zombie apocalypse is to make the main character a biker. Or give the player the option to roam around an open map on a bike. “Days Gone” is an engaging third-person survival horror game with an open world, free travel, and some of the most aggressive zombies on this side of the genre. Originally announced at E3 in 2016, the game was delayed until April 26, 2019, when it was released as a console exclusive for Sony’s PS4.

The player follows former biker outlaw Deacon St. John's journey across the Pacific Northwest as he searches for his supposedly dead wife, Sarah. Two years have passed since she was left behind during an evacuation, and Deacon’s outlook on life and humanity has changed as drastically as the world around him. Trust will need to be earned, weapons will need to be crafted, and gears will need to be greased before Deacon can ride off to heal from his past.

What makes this game unique in terms of survival horror is how well it handles both the setting of the game and the undead within it. The game takes the fast ragers from “28 Days Later” and gives them the same attributes and numbers as the zombies from “World War Z”, creating hordes of zombies, called “freakers”, that can scale walls and bust through blockades with ease. While taking on the first few zombies is an option, they cannot be wiped out with gunfire, so the player will be forced to run for dear life or use their environment to their advantage to clear the moving masses. Only when they’re gone can progress, and fast travel be applied.

Time passes when fast travel is activated, but players can take the more scenic route and ride Deacon’s bike through lush natural landscapes. Resources such as fuel, food, and upgrades for the bike’s speed, gas consumption, and aesthetics can be found around the map. These items can be found thanks to Deacon’s “survival vision," highlighting key items and enemy locations. So long as the player manages their time in-game between conducting alliances, combat, and cruising, they can have an enriching and entertaining experience that rivals the story and gameplay of“The Last of Us”.


  • This is a fun and creative game with an interesting concept, a compelling main character, and a traveling mechanic that can turn any long road trip into a relaxing cruise. Why this game doesn’t get as much admiration as it deserves is beyond me.

Deacon St. John fires at a freaker horde that is bursting through a derailed train. There’s no joke here, that’s just a terrifying place to be, and he needs to run.


12) The Forest - (PC/PS4) 

Fitting the protagonist of a survival horror game with crafting elements is the star of a survival series in-game. I'm just surprised it hasn't been done before this. "The Forest" is a new spin on crafting horror games that dropped from Endnight Games on April 30th, 2018, to subdued reactions and average reviews, despite its content and set-up.

The player is thrust into the horrifying situation of Eric LeBlanc, star of a survival reality show, as he awakens alone after a devasting plane crash in the middle of a dense forest. He sets out with his trusty survival guide to find his son Timmy, whom Eric groggily remembers being kidnapped from the plane's wreckage by a man in red. The player must build structures, build lifesaving fires, and find Timmy before some grim fate befalls him and his father.

I've never been one for crafting games, mainly because they're always placed in an environment where survival is secondary to base building. However, in “The Forest,” survival is at the forefront of gameplay. The option to create massive structures is there, so long as you have the proper blueprints in your survival guide, but they become more of a necessity than a mark of creativity. The structures and buildings are the only safe havens you have in the forest, and with no auto-save option, you will be dipping in and out of these to save your game and steer clear of the creatures lurking in the trees.

In place of zombies, the game takes inspiration from “The Descent” and “Cannibal Holocaust,” presenting creatures that teeter between uncanny mannequins and something resembling David Cronenburg's monstrosities. Even more interesting about these creatures is that they don't start openly hostile, acting purely on instinct, and only attack when threatened. Aggression is an option, not a necessity. 


  • As a fan of body horror, I can appreciate the work put into making these creatures. Something is fascinating about a creature that looks like it came out of Dark Souls with fingers for teeth.
  • While the gameplay is consistent and versatile for even the most inexperienced survival horror gamer, the story’s optional completion diminishes overall enjoyment. It lacks a set of stakes that keeps the player going outside of survival mode.

The player steadies their axe as they await the mutant cannibal nightmares in the forest ahead. It’s going to be a long night.


11) Dead Island 2 - (PS4/PS5/PC/Xbox One/Xbox Series X|S)

This game itself is a zombie. The number of times people asked or wished for this game to be brought back from Development Hell is staggering, so for it to be here is nothing short of a miracle. After bouncing from developer to developer, Dambuster Studios and Deep Silver finally released “Dead Island 2” on April 21st, 2023, to anticipating gamers.

This game is the sequel to 2011’s “Dead Island,” taking place 15 years after the original zombie outbreak in a quarantined Los Angeles. Six characters known as Slayers accidentally crash their evacuation flight when a zombie winds up on board, forcing them to find another evacuation site quickly.

The game borrows heavily from its predecessor, incorporating the rage mode and the crafting system. Each character can increase their rage bar by killing enemies, and once the bar is completed,  they can enter rage mode and increase their attack power. Every rage mode is unique and connected to each character’s skills, i.e., using an unlimited amount of knives, getting a gun with unlimited ammo, etc.

As for the crafting system, it builds on the same elements from the first “Dead Island” and bears more similarity to the mechanic from “Dying Light.” Items can be bolted to weapons to increase physical and elemental damage. The zombies surrounding the player can wield melee weapons, attack uninfected people, and pose massive threats in groups. The player will need to incorporate both mechanics and continue their journey across LA before they start getting a taste for flesh.


  • The game is more expansive than the first entry and has a plethora of zombies and ways to kill them, but the plot dips into weaker territory in the second half. However, it is a solid game that tries to stray from the niche the first game carved for itself.

A riot gear walker nears the player, unaware of their wire-wrapped bat and improved skills. Their body may be covered, but you can always aim for the head!


10) Death Road to Canada - (PC/Android/Switch/PS4/Xbox One)

Who doesn't love a good road trip when the world is falling apart? Rocketcat Games’ 2016 survival horror roguelike, “Dead Road to Canada,” combines the zombie apocalypse with a feel-good road trip that never loses its whimsical nature to the more frightening survival aspects. The player takes the steering wheel with four friends in the back, ready to travel across a zombie-riddled America to reach the Canadian border. Two weeks in-game are spent gathering resources, choosing destinations, and surviving zombies and each other before reaching the safety of the Canadian border.

The joy of this game is in the journey, not the goal. Characters have their own personalities and backgrounds, contributing to their weapon choices and event decisions. As mentioned earlier, the player can choose their names and these characteristics or go wild and have them be entirely randomized. No two runs will have the same party members, so everything is always a new experience. The game’s maintenance mechanics are spent on keeping the members of the road trip party healthy and happy, as negative moods and illnesses can influence their decisions for the worse.

The resources, i.e., food, gas, med kits, etc., are at locations across the map. The player will be responsible for gathering and rationing them, so tough decisions will be made at the expense of certain members. While individual zombies exist across the road, waves of zombies will suddenly spawn around the party and not dissipate until a certain amount of time has passed, becoming an endurance test for the player and their ragtag group of friends.


  • The players can’t control the characters outright, and they will always make decisions and act on their own accord. This lets the player relate to their party members and recognize their efforts in serving as a leader, which is phenomenal to me. You get to see the story write itself out, but you still have enough room to write more of your narrative.
  • You can be a dog. There’s no joke here. You can just play as a dog and kill zombies. You can’t beat that.

The player is overwhelmed by zombies as they try to scavenge what’s left of a store for their companions. In no reality is this fine!


9) Nightmare of Decay - (PC)

In a genre that is oversaturated in gorey kills, excessive zombie subtypes, and sunglasses-clad craftsmen with chainsaw hands, sometimes it’s best to go back to basics. “Nightmare of Decay” is a retraux - retro in style only - first-person zombie survival game from a one-person developer Checkmaty that dropped in May 2022.

Subsequently, the player is dropped into a nightmare of horrific proportions as they awaken in an enormous manor with no recollection of how they got there. Zombies, cultists, and a menagerie of other horrors roam the halls, and the only way to escape is to find weapons, salvage ammo, and discover the mystery of the house’s haunts before death claims everything. 

This is a quick game with engaging  PS1-inspired visuals, uniquely designed enemies, and puzzles that take out-of-the-box thinking to solve. From key puzzles, gunfire shock-back, and cultists to a familiar scene where a zombie turns to face the player while eating a dead man, the game is littered with references and homages to classic survival horror games.

The plot is original yet familiar, keeping up with the nostalgic and uncomfortable feeling the game exudes. Weapons are similar to those found in classic survival horror, the zombies are slow but don’t go down easily, and progression can be done at your own pace. Just don’t let the spiders get to you. Keep the hammer nearby.


  • There's not much else to say about this game except for how simple it is compared to other complex survival horror games on this list. It is a fun yet familiar romp from start to finish and can be completed in less than 3 hours. 
  • The only thing more compelling about the game and its structure is how one person made it as a passion project. Respect where it’s due.


The player begins to fight the chainsaw psycho, armed with a magnum and grit. Should I smile back or aim and fire?


8) Dying Light - (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox Series X|S)

People who are afraid of heights may want to avoid this title. However, if your fear of zombies is greater than the fear you feel when you stand on top of a building and look down, then you should keep reading. “Dying Light” is a first-person survival horror game from Techland and  Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment that plays with speed and height advantage against zombie and human threats. Development started in 2012 after the release of “Dead Island,” and the finished product was released in January 2015, breaking sales records and the internet.

The story takes place in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Harran, where undercover GRE agent Kyle Crane is tasked with retrieving sensitive documents concerning a zombie infection’s cure from Kahir “Rais” Suleiman, a rogue political figure. The player is thrust into Crane’s shoes as he navigates the streets and skies of Harran to complete his mission, fighting when necessary and dealing with betrayal of all kinds.

For most zombie survival games, the pace is usually slow and steady, keeping in time with the zombies that roam the world. This pace can become monotonous, especially when the threat of becoming a walking corpse looms over the player’s head. While some love the challenge and slow burn, others feel there is a need to speed along the game. “Dying Light” increases the pace of its game by implementing parkour mechanics for travel and navigation, so everything is at a breakneck pace.

The open world of Harran is already at the player’s fingertips, and all they need to do is just jump onto a pillar or scale a wall to jump into the next area, avoiding zombie combat or unnecessary quests. Crane’s health and stamina affect this speed, as any injury or signs of infection will slow him down and negatively impact his combat ability. 

Speaking of combat ability, the infected - the game's zombies - are hardy creatures that grow stronger at night. While it is possible to avoid contact through parkour, confronting the types of infected will sometimes be the only way to progress. The game’s weapons have limited lifespans, so they must be repaired often or combined with other items to create more effective and dangerous weapons.

Luckily, the game has an excellent crafting mechanic, with over 1,000 possibilities available to the player so long as they have the right resources. This level of creative freedom and speed makes the game fun to progress in and encourages the player to go all out in their adventure. 


  • It’s fun to swing and jump in the game, and it always feels so smooth compared to other games where running or jogging is the only way to travel. Combine that with handcrafted melee weapons that can pierce and swing simultaneously, and you have an experience that feels like a faster version of “The Last of Us.” 
  • The game has co-op play and a mode where the player can be a more robust version of an infected, known as a Night Hunter, and invade other players’ servers. That sounds like a rip-roaring good time.

Kyle Crane shines a UV light on an infected, slowing it down before it charges at him. This may be a photo taken seconds before a disaster.


7) Resident Evil 2 Remake - (PC/PS4/Xbox One/Xbox Series X|S/Switch)

As much as people are deterred by it, horror remakes are becoming a prominent fixture in pop culture. Films like “The Exorcist” and “Speak No Evil” are being rebooted, series like “Halloween” are being reworked for modern audiences, and specific games from the early 2000s are being released with improved controls and fresh coats of paint. Despite the hate for this process, the “Resident Evil 2 Remake” was one of the most anticipated video games in the last decade and did provide merit to how remakes can be done correctly.

The original game came out in 1998 and was planned for a remake as early as 2002, but Shinji Mikami’s development of “Resident Evil 4” halted the production. Capcom soon brought the series back to its roots with “Resident Evil 7”; the remake was announced at E3 2018 with gameplay footage, and the real deal dropped in January 2019. The remake follows the same plot line as the original, with Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield trying to survive a zombie-infested Raccoon City while solving puzzles and avoiding encounters with the tyrant, Mr. X.

Prefacing this now with an obligatory note: I love Resident Evil. This was the first horror video game series I was introduced to; I played the first entries with my friends and enjoyed every minute. The “Resident Evil 2” remake takes everything that makes the original game lovable and iconic and builds on it, creating an entirely new horror experience. The original tank controls are replaced with “Resident Evil 4” controls, allowing players to shoot and run in tandem. The camera is no longer fixed, items can be combined to create new key items or discarded when used to their capacity, and the gunpowder mechanics from “Resident Evil 3: Nemesis” are present, allowing the player to craft ammunition when given the proper resources.

The zombies and Umbrella-based creatures in the game were given the most extensive overhaul, making them more resilient and capable of getting back up when knocked down. Regular zombies can still pose no threat when confronted with handguns or wooden boards, but Lickers, Ivys, and the mysterious presence of Mr. X can keep the player on their toes and wishing they were on a helicopter out of the city.


  • Mr. X is by far the most terrifying part of the game, remaining as seemingly indestructible as he was in the original. He’s more sullen, and his pace is always the same, putting a lot of pressure on the player to avoid entirely or risk everything to fight him off. He follows the player throughout every level after his introduction and never eases up unless the narrative demands it. To put it bluntly, he’s gonna give it to you.
  • The game's downside is that the B scenario is locked until the first campaign is finished. The prior scenarios from the original are gone. 
  • Tofu is still playable.

A young Leon Kennedy readies his weapon as the seemingly indestructible Mr. X slowly approaches him. He just keeps walking!


6) Organ Trail: Director’s Cut - (PC/iOS/Android/Desura) 

Sometimes the sillier games in the horror genre have something more profound to say. Or rather, the games with the more absurd concepts and executions have something more to bring than what’s on the surface level. “Organ Trail: Director’s Cut,” a pixelated survival horror game with roguelike elements, is one such game. The educational video game series "The Oregon Trail" inspired the game, keeping physical maladies and similar plot structures intact but tailoring the experience around a zombie apocalypse. The player can control up to four characters as they navigate the now zombie-infested United States, passing famous landmarks and cities on their way to sanctuary in the West. 

There is a strange balance in the game between comedy and tragedy. A new event occurs in the game every 5-10 seconds with tones that range from depressing to over-the-top hilarious. Sometimes a character will be shot by a stray bullet in the car, be bitten by a zombie, or encounter the mythical creature Sasquatch. What’s more entertaining is how they are all random, so there is no telling if certain events will happen to the same character twice.

Each moment spent in the game lessens any character's health, supplies, and morale, so each town must be scavenged. Choosing what to scavenge or buy is all part of the management mechanics, so sacrifices must be made for specific resources. Zombies become more active at night, leaving daylight a prime time for exploration and scavenging. And while there is an option to take on zombie hordes, the player is ultimately the one to decide if that is a good call or not.  


  • The story is done in the same way as its inspiration, with the player providing management and decision-making for the group they are traveling with across the country. The player is not a passive bystander during the experience; they can feel the weight of their decisions from start to finish.
  • The car can be customized to keep the passengers safe and obliterate zombies on the road, like something out of “Dawn of the Dead.”

The player can upgrade their car for travel speed, capacity, and zombie-killing capability. Hear me out: the chainsaw windows are silly but practical.


5) Left 4 Dead - (PC/Xbox 360/Mac OS X)

This game is a staple for horror fans and gamers. Not only was it designed by video game royalty Valve, but it has inspired so many games like it since its creation that not talking about it would be an injustice.  “Left 4 Dead” is a first-person zombie survival horror title that came out in November of 2008 and has since garnered a modding community, sequels, DLC, and a dedicated fanbase that continues to play the game.

The game’s story is centered on four people: Bill, a Vietnam vet; Louis, an IT analyst; Francis, a biker; and Zoey, a horror-movie-loving college student. The quartet is forced to escape their home city in Pennsylvania and flee to possible safety in Georgia, avoiding zombies, mutants, bandits, and each other’s gunfire.  

I don’t know why, but for some reason, it’s fun to play a game where you and your friends are bashing zombie skulls in and surviving impossible odds. Maybe it’s the sense of camaraderie you get from actually destroying a common enemy and escaping dire straits, or it's just fun to face off against zombies and get on your friends’ nerves when someone misaims or moves the camera the wrong way. The game relies on teamwork and cooperation for progress, with teammates being able to provide cover fire, share items, access respawn sites, and heal one another. Every campaign is a shared experience of friendship and terror.

The zombie threats in this game are given similar realism in both design and origin. The disease that starts the zombie apocalypse is a variation of rabies that causes rage and psychosis in the victim. While one infected can be handled well, several at once is a significant problem. These infected are fast, and a whole group can overwhelm an unprepared player if agitated enough. Several infected variants exist in the game, from the long-tongued player abducting Smoker to the acid-spitting Boomer. It’s best to plan and rely on teamwork to get past any of these beings and escape the city scot-free. Just don’t wake the Witch.


  • With a story that’s split into five levels across four separate campaigns, interchangeability between characters, and customization capabilities through modding, the way the story plays out will always stay the same, but the journey will constantly be rewritten and enjoyed by multiple players. 

The player fires frantically into a group of stampeding zombies. Reserve the ammo and make a break for it, man! Don’t be the hero!


4) Dead Space Remake - (PC/PS5/Xbox Series X|S)

In space, no one can hear you scream. In the case of “Dead Space” and its remake, no one can fathom the depths of cosmic horror and its impact on humanity. The original “Dead Space” was released in 2008 from EA Redwood Shores to a clamor of fans who wanted a new blend of horror and space fiction to fill the void left behind by “System Shock.” The game’s success spawned two sequels, a rail-shooter, and two films involving the series' lore before being given the HD remake treatment in January 2023.

The remake's story follows the same plot points as the original, focusing on Isaac Clarke, an engineer aboard the USG Kellion. He and a few other crew members are sent to the USG Ishimura to investigate a distress signal sent by the ship’s medical officer and Isaac’s girlfriend, Nicole Brennan, only to find the crew gone and something horrifying lurking behind every corner. 

People who say remakes are just the original games with a fresh coat of paint don’t understand the lengths developers need to go to recreate and remake a game. Just because the original code exists doesn’t mean it can be altered to create something new. The appearance and graphics of “Dead Space” needed to be recreated and upscaled in a new engine, allowing for smoother movement and more dynamic lighting. Rooms closed before were designed to be opened when rerouting power cells or unlocked completely with nodes. Even the story was rewritten to incorporate dialogue from Isaac, who became less of a player stand-in and more of an actual character.

However, what truly makes the game as horrifying as the original, possibly surpassing it, are the modifications to the necromorphs. The necromorphs are an unusual yet terrifying take on zombies, with their bodies being amalgamated flesh of humans who succumbed to the psychoses brought on by the markers. After being assimilated into the Hive Mind, they are regurgitated and reborn as flesh-hungry creatures that want nothing more than to kill and consume. It will take every weapon at Isaac’s disposal to stomp these creatures out and rescue his girlfriend before he, too, succumbs to the hallucinations of the marker. No matter what, he cannot make everything whole. 


  • This is a remake that I would love to play repeatedly. The hacking is improved, the necropmorphs look more menacing, and the plasma cutter is given a much-needed upgrade. 
  • Everything about this game is incredible and nightmarish, and I highly recommend this title to anyone who wants a good introduction to horror video games.

Isaac Clarke raises his weapon to an incoming necromorph enemy, ready to fight. Go for the legs first, Isaac! 


3) State of Decay II: Juggernaut Edition - (PC/Xbox One/Xbox Series X|S)

Never thought I’d talk about this game, but to be fair, there’s a first time for everything. “State of Decay 2” dropped on May 22nd, 2018, from Undead Labs and Xbox Game Studios. However, the Juggernaut Edition didn’t release until March 2020 as a standalone and updated version. The game itself is defined as a survival horror with scavenging mechanics, an open-world environment, and an optional 4-player co-op.

After completing a tutorial, the player will assume control of a community of zombie apocalypse survivors in one of several locations. Their job is to build a base, fortify it, and gather resources through extensive exploration while ensuring the community stays safe from living and dead enemies. 

As well as being visually stunning, the game sports a unique feature that spices up its base-building and maintenance mechanics. Every character in the community has their own name, personality, and skills, which can be developed further and used in future runs when a base has been constructed. The player can assume control of each character and use their strengths to contribute to the base and the community, whether it be mechanical knowledge, horticulture, or hunting experience.

While only one character can be controlled at a time, others can be directed to assist other groups. Said characters also have moral compasses, with traumatic events across the game influencing their decisions and actions. Some characters can be lost due to death or leaving the community, and others can be gained through recruitment and mission success. 

The zombies are the core part of the game. Not only are they the main reason a base must be built, but they are runners, proving time and again to be as fast or faster than the survivors the player can control. All zombies respawn infinitely, so no matter how fast a group of zombies is killed, another will quickly take its place. Noise attracts them, and killing them causes nothing but trouble, so the most that can be done is to avoid them or deflect them with firecrackers or noises.

Special zombies also roam the maps, with feral animal characteristics, explosive body parts, or thick layers of muscle and skin that allow them to tank anything. How the player chooses to deal with these beasts and keep their community alive is up to them and their management of everything.


  • Prior runs in the game unlock boons and perks for new runs, such as Charity, where playing as a sheriff prior will unlock loot from past friends once a day. 
  • The game offers hours of gameplay and interchangeable characters, making every run a fun and unique experience. 

The player aims at two red-eyed zombies as they get ready to attack the survivor. I don’t blame them for being angry. It looks like someone gassed their standing area if you catch my drift.


2) Dead Rising 2: Off The Record - (PC/PS3/PS4/Xbox 360/Xbox One)

For every serious entry involving zombies and the complex moral dilemma of whether the living is more monstrous than the dead, there exists a game where zombies are cannon fodder and the only goal is to create as much chaos as possible. Capcom’s "Dead Rising" series was founded on the second concept, giving a steady plot to follow and adding the capacity for player creativity. “Dead Rising 2” was released in 2010 but was given a non-canon reimagining called “Dead Rising 2: Off the Record” on October 11th, 2011.

The plot is close to the original game as possible, but instead of Chuck Greene, the player follows Frank West after his fame from exposing the initial outbreak at Willamette has petered out. Seeking a new story, he heads to Fortune City to resurrect his photojournalism career but finds other things have been resurrected instead.

The entire game is a comedic retelling of the second “Dead Rising” game, from how the story is rewritten for Frank to be in the spotlight to how some bosses are replaced with new psychopaths or familiar characters. The weapon crafting system remains the same, giving the player creative control when building weapons for zombie killing and boss battles. Chainsaws can be taped to brooms; rockets can be fixed to wheelchairs with blades; the possibilities are endless and entertaining.

There is also an added mechanic of taking photos with different themes present, including particular objects boosting the point values of specific photos. Frank can easily capture the terror of the zombies around him and expose the truth of the infection, returning him to the fray of journalistic fame. Oh, and expose whoever started the whole outbreak.  


  • Frank's outfits can be changed, ridiculous weapons can be created, and no time limit holds the player back. While the zombie infection threat lingers, Zombrex can be administered anywhere for Frank. 

Frank West simultaneously takes down a couple of zombies with his latest creation: the double-sided chainsaw. Admit it; this is cool.


1) Resident Evil 4 Remake - (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox Series X|S)

The last game on this list is one that was a long time coming, improved on everything the original stood for, and left fans in a state of bloody bliss. “Resident Evil 4” is heralded as the best entry of the titular series, besides “Resident Evil 3: Nemesis,” so it was only a matter of time before it was given the HD remake treatment. Luckily Capcom did just that and released a remake on March 24th, 2023, to an eager and ravenous fanbase.

The story takes place six years after the Raccoon City incident, focusing on Leon Kennedy as he is tasked with saving Ashley Graham, the president's daughter, from the Los Illuminados cult in Spain. His quest brings him face to face with long-lost allies, strange merchants, and a conspiracy that may have ties to more than one mastermind.

This remake was done in the same manner as “Resident Evil 2,” with a complete design overhaul and mechanical dissection. Not only were the graphics updated to give depth and tension, but characters were redesigned for a modern time period, i.e. Ashley’s newer outfits resembled a more modest school uniform. The infected villagers and cultists were given better AI pathing and the Las Plagas manifestations were rendered in a more terrifying yet detailed.

Leon’s controls were fixed to where he could shoot and run at the same time, and he was given a parrying mechanic. This gave Leon the chance to counter and dodge attacks, or outright stop enemies in their tracks, attack, then kill them when they were down. The player could even craft new ammunition and enhance weapons so long as they had the right supplies. These new implementations allowed the game to run more optimally and give players a nostalgic experience that never lost its bite or its spark.


  • This is a strong case where the remake surpasses the original. So much was added, very little was removed, and what was added worked well with the old mechanics. The developers fixed the escort mission and wrote Ashley as a more developed character. Everything done was in the name of improvement, and it all works incredibly well.

Leon Kennedy parries a chainsaw wielded by a man sporting a bag on his head. The only more insane thing here is now he stopped the blades!

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A bard down to the last letter, Kay is consistently writing and drawing new worlds of fantasy, magic, and intrigue. Her only known weaknesses are a can of Dr. Pepper and a new manga.
Gamer Since: 2010
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: 13 Sentinels
Top 3 Favorite Games:Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance , South Park: The Stick of Truth, Undertale

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