Zombies are pretty much a horror staple in all forms of entertainment these days. From books to movies, to TV series and video games, they’re everywhere. And these zombie stories come in two varieties. The first kind is like Left 4 Dead which is show above. You kill everything and anything that gets between you and your goal. Don’t mind the undead everywhere, they’re just fodder for you to slaughter and aren’t any real threat to you even when there are thousands of them. And the second kind is when zombies are a very real threat to you and your goal is not to kill all of them, but to avoid them at all costs and scavenge for supplies. I see a lot more of the former and not so much of the latter. That is where my problem lies with many zombie games.
Like many of you, I do get a kick out of the occasional power trip. I love feeling like a badass that no one can stop. But that’s the vast majority of games out there. And whenever I play a zombie game, I almost never feel like I have to actively avoid them because they either don’t do much to you, or you’re armed to the teeth and looking for a fight. Dying Light definitely struck my interest because the whole game is basically about trying to play keep away, but it makes it so easy that realistically you can jump into a horde and survive. I’ve tried 7 Days to Die and quite frankly it just isn’t that great. The movement is very clunky, zombies shamble around single file, and they only really pose a threat at night when you can’t see them and they seemingly come out of the woodworks.
Recently I began to play State of Decay and it sort of scratched that itch, at least the bit that I did play of it. While you could beat the snot out of the zombies when there are a few of them, especially since you have AI allies, they aren’t too much of a threat. But when you later run into a whole bunch of ‘em, fighting them is not in your best interest when all you’re armed with is a shovel. You will die. Best to forget about that building, skirt around it, and search for supplies elsewhere. Meanwhile you can set up safe havens which is great! While the animations are a bit strange they’re good enough. It’s a fun game, but it only feels half realized due to being a singleplayer experience. That isn’t something you’ll hear me say often because I love singleplayer games to death, but in this case I recognize that State of Decay could have been so much more as a cooperative survival game. So thankfully State of Decay 2 is a thing that exists with co-op at its core and will be releasing this year sometime. My hope is that they’ve refined everything and have made it a great survival experience.
There was a game that I was once excited about, it was called Human Element. When it was originally announced, it was touted as a singleplayer RPG set in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, but rather than focus on the zombies it was all about the human characters, what sort of effect this apocalypse has had on them. It was going to be some real deep stuff. Then it went silent for a bit and came back as a multiplayer only title with a goofier art style than expected. Needless to say it was canned not long after that because everyone that had been anticipating it was not happy with the direction change. The developers had a valid reason for it, but they should have renamed the game in that case.
So maybe State of Decay 2 will be the game I’ve been waiting for, or maybe another game will come along and sweep me off my feet and into the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Only time will tell.