Zombies Are Dead

Zombies are a dead subject. Pun intended. Recently, games have been inundated with the flesh eating living dead.  Shopping malls and casinos have been swarmed with them. Nazis have been turning into them.  Distant vault planets have had islands dedicated to them; even cowboys have had trouble with the living impaired, and don’t get me started on the over abundance of zombie infatuated iPhone games. The market is so flooded with them, that they’re even spilling over into TV land; The Walking Dead and Sex in the City are just two examples! As fun as they are to slice, dice and run over with lawnmowers, don’t you think it’s time for a change? For a new type of supernatural enemy to rise up, and steal the limelight from the moaning shamblers?

For years the Japanese have scared the living crap out of us Westerners with their ghost movies and yet Americans have failed to remake them correctly. Nothing is more scary than a Japanese child, crab crawling down a flight of stairs, or a girl climbing out of the TV.  Could this be the “monster” that could beat zombies off the ‘top monster’ list?

The Project Zero series, also known as the Fatal Frame series, were a set of shit-scary ghost games, where your only weapon was an antique camera, called The Camera Obscura. The setting was usually a haunted house, which your (female) character had been led to by the recent discovery of a loved one’s ghost.

Pretend he's not there. That'll work.

While searching said house, you would find out that it has trapped a ton of ghosts after a sacrifice ritual failed, and the only way you’re going to survive is to grab the camera, run like hell, and attempt to lift the curse. It involved a lot of running, since ammo, also known as camera film, was scarce, and there was always one super ghost – usually the sacrifice victim, who was immune to the camera’s effect, stalking you. The gameplay was a lot like the pre-4 Resident Evil series, with a fixed camera and jittery controls but it was those that gave the game its horror. With the camera fixed in place, Tecmo could place background scares that you couldn’t miss, like a ghost appearing at a window, or a shadow moving just out of reach.

The soundtracks also helped with the scares, especially with surround sound. Whispers and unearthly moans would emanate from the darkness, floorboards would creak and doors would slam; all the while, a twinkly piano background would enhance the paranoia.

Luckily for zombies, ghost games are few and far between, and for them to be made correctly, they need a Japanese touch.  Ghosts are very hard to make the enemies in games, due to their intangibility – they can phase through walls and a locked door means nothing to them.  Since conventional weaponry cannot hurt them, let alone hit them, what could you use, short of a shotgun filled with rock salt?

By vampires, I of course mean the vicious bloodsuckers who would rather rip your head off than run through a forest topless and sparkly. That is not a vampire, that’s a fairy with a tooth problem.

In the latter half of the 90’s, Silicon Knights and Crystal Dynamics released Blood Omen:The Legacy of Kain. It was a top-down action/adventure RPG, where you played as Kain, a murdered nobleman, bought back from the brink of death as a vampire to get revenge. Now before I continue with this article, you must know one thing: The Blood Omen series is my all time favourite set of games, even the low scoring Blood Omen 2 and Defiance.

Someone stole his Steradent...now he's pissed

Kain is a bastard.  And he has every right to be. When returning home one night, he finds a sword impaled through his chest. That has to smart. And when flailing in hell, he is offered a new life and revenge by the necromancer, Mortanius. Who wouldn’t be a bastard after all that? So he goes out and drains the life blood from his would be assassins, as a proper vampire should. He is then informed that the assassins were hired by the Circle of Nine, a group dedicated to the protection of Nosgoth, the world in which you are playing. Of course, being the blood sucker he is, he goes out for even more revenge, causes a new time line, and endangers his new race to extinction. Now if that happened in the Twishite series, I might actually consider reading the blurb on the back on the book, but luckily it didn’t!

Another notable vampire game was Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines. A PC FPS/RPG, this game was based on the White Wolf dice rolling, table top RPG series of the same name. You played a newly sired vampire, bought involuntarily into a world of darkness and conspiracy. It utilised a level up system similar to the Fallout series, with your basic stats and abilities evolving every time you completed a task set by your vampire leaders. Even though you were a vampire, you had to be human about it, you couldn’t just run out into the street and lunge onto the first blonde virgin neck that you saw. Well you could, but you wouldn’t last very long. Everything had to be done without the mortals realising that vampires were pulling the strings in the government.

Luckily for zombies, vampires have already flooded the TV and movie markets. Unluckily for vampires, they’re all pansies!

Gaming werewolves were hard to research for this article. Not a lot of games have involved werewolves, short of throwing them in as a minions to Dracula, ala Castlevania. And again, with the Twicrap series now depicting them as hunky topless men, it’s even harder.

The best encounter I had with a werewolf was in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind expansion pack, Bloodmoon. In this expansion, your character could be bitten and be given the lycanthrope curse. When this happened, you had to suddenly be aware of your surroundings; if you were seen changing, you would be hunted. You also had to kill one human a night, lest your character went mad, this made players realise that playing as a werewolf really was a curse, and not a blessing as they had hoped. The game did, however, give you the choice of a cure, or to live with the curse.

Okay, ten words. First word; sounds like...oh shit...it's 'Werewolf' isn't it?

Surprisingly, The Legend of Zelda:Twilight Princess is also classified as a werewolf game, although I would dispute it. Yes, Link turns into a wolf, but he’s not cursed with it -  it is part of the Twilight.  It’s not an affliction, it is a blessing. In the immortal words of my housemate, “He can do a lot of cool shit!”

Unluckily for werewolves, TV and movies have depicted them as mindless beasts, who will hunt anyone with no conviction or care.

The King of Lies would be an awesome bad guy, but luckily for zombies, he is immortal and wouldn’t be viable to be a beatable video game bad guy!

Last five articles by Michael



  1. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I have to agree with this, as there are far too many games jumping on the undead bandwagon these days. OK, some of them are doing it legitimately where the game itself is based on the tried and tested “bunch of people lock themselves in a mall and kill loads of zombies” but the other games that are just shoehorning zombies in to cash in on the current insane trend just annoys the hell out of me.

    What sort of risk do zombies really pose anyway? They trudge around like they’re wearing treacle slippers, half their limbs are missing and the others are decaying anyway so that when you DO come across one you can punch it in the head and it’ll turn to bone dust… they’re the paranormal equivalent of the moth. Also, they eat brains… perhaps 30 years ago that would have been more of a threat but, these days anyway, there aren’t that many people around with any brains left, if Facebook is anything to go by… “lo m8 how r u doin 2nite u wan do summik l8r?” no sorry, I’m busy remaining educated – try it sometime.

    Vampires… fucking hell. Dracula was COOL, seriously. Nosferatu was sinister as hell back in the day. It was about mind manipulation, forcing someone to become addicted to the rush so they were powerless against you, spreading your plague across humanity (within reason, obviously, otherwise there’d just be vampires and then you’d be fucked for food) but now… NOW!? These days vampires is all about men looking as effeminate as possible, running around doing camp things, being TEN years old. If Peter Cushing hadn’t killed Dracula, he’d be turning in his fucking grave.

    I blame Most Haunted for this you know. Nobody really gave a shit about the paranormal for a few decades until they came on the scene with their stone throwing and “here’s our friend Uri Geller… you know, the guy who bends spoons with his hands… I mean… mind” as well as all that remarkably convenient heavy breathing as one of the crew turns their back on the camera. Had it not been for that show, people would have continued to lean towards apathy when it came to the paranormal and the occult, save for the occasional scary movie. Now, it’s all dodgy horror movies and trying so hard to scare you because the girl walks backwards a bit funny and hasn’t brushed her hair in a few years. Get over it.

    When I was a kid, I adored the paranormal and was heavily in to the occult. It was a genuine interest back then, and one which was frowned upon by those around me. These days, it’s no different to liking Eastenders or Coronation street.

    So yeah… I’m all for shaking the developers by the shoulders and saying “oi, NO” when it comes to zombies… but what I’d rather see is them trying to come up with something different rather than flogging the same decomposing horse. Also, if Satan was in a game he should be voiced by Christopher Lee. The Goat of Mendes! The Devil himself!!

  2. Samuel Samuel says:

    It’s official – zombies are the new aliens. In the 90s, every game had alien invaders as the villains, and now it’s the living dead.

    I wouldn’t mind, but most games subscribe to the modern bullshit zombies that can move at more than a lazy shuffle. Those are proper zombies, not these things that dash all over the place like Usain Bolt on speed. It’s a bit shite when the most authentic representation of zombies in gaming comes from Plants vs. Zombies.

  3. Ben Ben says:

    I hate Zombies now, nothing but a cheap gimmick from lazy developers when they can’t use their own imagination to think of something new / different.

    Wouldn’t mind seeing more Werewolves such as the ones in the Underworld films.

  4. Splicer261 says:

    lol Castevania Lords of Shadow had it all, zombies, vampires, werewolves and even bloody Satan..all rolled into one! It was awesome

    Hope the game was a success though, i want more in the series to flood the market

  5. Richie richie says:

    Was never that fussed by zombies. Can’t think of many good movies with them in. Dead Rising was a good game (DR2 sucks awful balls though). Everything since has bored me.

  6. Rook says:

    Played quite a few zombie games now (as have most of us); I even played Stubbs The Zombie were you are a zombie but it would be good to get a different enemy. I haven’t played many vampire games in a while but watch plenty of them on TV.

  7. Kat says:

    Hummm. I’m 101% all for new monsters and baddies being used in games, totally.

    However, I’m not anti-zombies. If a good, fun looking game came out with zombies in I’d be all over it. I think there’s the potential for laziness by just adding zombies to stuff with DLC or not experimenting with something different because “zombies sell”. I think there’s always a time and a place for our brain-munching undead. It’s not like we all go “FFS, MORE cars?!” with racers. We don’t cry out to replace them with trains or helicopters or trucks, cos there’s a lot of people out there that like cars. Maybe a little break from zombies is okay. And cars. They can focus on new franchises like Franken-Choppers or Banshee Buses.

    Sorry, I shouldn’t comment when tired and over sugared on pick n mix. Nice read Author :D

  8. Lorna Lorna says:

    Really enjoyed this. I agree, Zombie games have a place, however, shoehorning them into every new title and DLC going is too fucking far and smacks of laziness. I love the suggestions for other ghoulish baddies though. Just looking at images for the Fatal Frame games was a creepy experience – it looks bloody disturbing. I think that ghosts and spirits would be a good replacement for a while…they don’t have to be the good old fashioned white sheet variety, as the screens for Fatal Frame prove. Good food for thought.

  9. Easton says:

    I agree on ever point, great article. Aslo, in Darksiders you DO go up against satan, (though he’s called the Destroyer)

  10. Edward Edward says:

    I agreed with this all the way to the bank. Especially as I was going to write something incredibly similar to this (it was literally going to be this) but you did it far better than I would have :D
    Great first article, dude. Hope you can make more soon!

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