Good moaning: my favourite zombie games

It’s Zombie Awareness Month so we’re talking all things undead. Following on from Monday’s look into why we find the living dead so fascinating, on Wednesday we shared the best survival advice to get us through the coming apocalypse.

But we haven’t even talked about video games properly yet! There are currently over 1,400 titles listed under the Zombies tag on Steam right now so there are plenty of them to discuss. Although the majority fall into the action or horror genres and these aren’t ones I’d usually go to myself, this doesn’t mean I haven’t played my fair share of games where the undead make an appearance. My final zombie-related post for this month’s celebration features a few of my favourite releases, some you may not expect.

Corpse Killer

I really enjoy full-motion video (FMV) games but I’d never heard of Corpse Killer until it was kindly gifted to me by Ellen from Ace Asunder in March. It definitely comes under the so-bad-it’s-good category that’s the standard for FMV releases from the 1990s: hammy acting, cheesy lines, an unconvincing female character thrown in as a love-interest and plenty of badly-dressed actors. It looks like a bunch of extras turned up on the day not knowing what they were going to get into, and it’s perfect.

Dead Rising

Dead Rising is great for several reasons. Not only does it take place in a shopping mall, a location which features in many an apocalypse fantasy, but it teaches us that any object can be used as a weapon during such dire times. Grab a baseball bat, bass guitar or a lawn mower – and make sure you’re wearing the Servbot Mask while you’re doing it. It might sound like a comedy, but the fact that the game must be completed in 72-hours (six hours in real time) adds to the pressure and keeps you on edge.

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge

LeChuck has been killed so many times during the Monkey Island series that it’s difficult to keep track of his deaths. But this doesn’t stop him and he just keeps on fighting: knock him down and he’ll get right back up again in the form of a ghost, zombie, demon or even god. He’s constantly getting blown up both mentally and physically, and yet he keeps coming back for more. This sign of resilience and determination is surely the mark of a true protagonist and shows us that real heroes never quit.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

I love the way Resident Evil 7 uses flashbacks to flesh out its story because it’s not as simple as sitting back and watching a cutscene. Ethan comes across VHS tapes that can be played using VCRs around the Baker family’s plantation; and ‘played’ is exactly what I mean, as you’re able to relive and control the events of the footage you witness. This mechanic not only offers insight into people other than the protagonist and reveal sinister secrets about the Bakers but also provides some excellent gameplay.

Strange Brigade

Sometimes a release is made even better thanks to a good narrator and this is the element which stands out for me is Strange Brigade. What more could you want when shooting the undead in a cursed tomb that someone saying things like ‘Tally-ho!’ in a posh English voice? Though he may come across as sarcastic and as if he’s not taking the situation too seriously, the narrator is shown to be concerned about his team’s wellbeing and offers the player hints and tips on how to progress.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

In The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, investigator Paul Prospero receives a letter from 16-year old Ethan and is inspired to visit his hometown of Red Creek Valley. He begins encountering some unsettling phenomena immediately after his arrival, along with evidence of recent violence in the deserted mining village; but does this really have anything to do with zombies? Getting attacked by the corpse in the mines scared the hell out of me because I totally wasn’t expecting it to appear in a narrative game.

To The Moon

To The Moon is an incredibly emotional title and so it may therefore seem strange to hear that zombies feature in a particular section. After the doctors have a disagreement about how to proceed with their patient, Eva creates several zombie versions of herself to stop Neil from progressing through the school and foiling her plan. It’s a scene which provides some comic relief before building up to a conclusion which never fails to make me cry, regardless of how many times I’ve seen it.

The Typing of the Dead: Overkill

Rather than blasting away at zombies with a gun using a controller, in Typing of the Dead: Overkill you use your keyboard to enter words and fire shots instead. I really shouldn’t like it for several reasons but somehow it manages to suck me in every time and that’s why it’s my guilty-pleasure game. I mean, come on: you’re fighting a boss called Meat Katie who’s a zombified cow-person while being confronted with phrases such as ‘udderly delightful’ and ‘sirloin surprise’. How can you not laugh at that?

So there you have it: a week of undead-related posts in celebration of Zombie Awareness Month. Hopefully you’re all now prepared for when the apocalypse hits – and have a range of zombie games to play while you wait.

On the ninth day of Blogmas

Our choir of gaming Christmas carollers is back again for the second day of Blogmas, where creative conductor Athena from AmbiGaming is leading us in a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas – but with a video game twist. Check out her blog to see what she’s written for her ninth answer, and keep your eyes peeled for all of the other bloggers out there taking part.

Yesterday we looked at five games we’ve played more than once (and are likely to do so again). With the choir clearing their throats and warming up in the background, let’s see what the subject of today’s verse is:

On the ninth day of Blogmas, the gamers said to me:
What are your 12 favourite gaming memories?
Tell us 11 games you love!
What are ten reasons you’d play a game?
Give us nine games on your to-play list!
Who are eight characters you love?
Share seven of your favorite posts!
What are your six gaming or blogging resolutions?
What are five games you’ve played more than once?
Share four dramatic or memorable game moments!

The following post contains spoilers for Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, To The Moon, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and Maize. If you haven’t played these games yet, I’d highly recommend doing so before reading on.

1991: LeChuck reveals himself to be Guybrush’s brother

In the tunnel system underneath Dinky Island during the final scenes of Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck’s Revenge, an incapacitated LeChuck tells Guybrush to take off his mask to reveal the ‘true face’ of his nemesis. He’s then revealed to be none other than… wait for it… his long-lost brother Chuckie. As the game ends however, Chuckie looks at the camera with glowing red eyes dancing with evil magic; and the player is left wondering whether not everything is as it seems.

I remember being totally blown away by this moment when I first played the title as a kid – and then being left completely confused. Are Guybrush and LeChuck brothers though or is this all an elaborate spell? It’s never officially explained and it’s not even made clear in the rest of the Monkey Island series, but in a chat interview published on 21 July 2003, Ron Gilbert said: “In one sense, yes they are brothers, in another way, they are not. If you get what I mean.” No, unfortunately I don’t.

2011: Johnny finally realises his dream of going to the moon

To The Moon’s story starts when doctors Eva Rosalene and Neil Watts are tasked with fulfilling the dream of dying patient Johnny Wyles: he wants to go to the moon but can’t remember why. They insert themselves into an interactive compilation of his memories and traverse backwards through his life to uncover the source of this wish, so they can implant a desire for space-travel in order to make him think it came true before he passes away. (It’s a little more complicated than this but you get the gist.)

It’s later revealed that Johnny wants to visit the moon because of a promise he made to his now-deceased wife, River, when they were children. After meeting at a carnival they agreed it’s where they would meet again if they were ever separated. Sadly Johnny didn’t remember this promise due to a sad event in his history, but he felt enough for River to know that it was where he needed to get to. And damn if that isn’t one of the most heart-wrenching stories ever.

2013: Naiee faces his inability to swim

In Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, the siblings must embark on an arduous journey to reach the Tree of Life in order to save their ill father. Each brother is controlled by one of the joysticks on a controller and the player must use both in tandem to progress through the game. Naia is the stronger of the two and can pull levers by himself while younger Naiee is smaller and can fit into tighter spaces; and when it comes to swimming, Naiee’s fear of water sees him climb onto his sibling’s back.

Towards the end of the title however, the younger brother is on his own and must face this phobia alone. At first it isn’t clear what you need to do because his right joystick isn’t working; but once you realise you need to use both joysticks together, similar to what you’d do if Naia was there, a bolt of emotion hits. It’s a beautiful way of reminding us that even though the people we love may have gone, we’ll never forget them and can use the memory of them to give us strength when we most need it.

2016: A disco in the middle of a field saves the world

Although it may not have made my favourites list on DAY, Maize is one of the best titles I finally got around to playing this year. It’s so weird but in a good way: the developers have left the game’s description deliberately vague and I can only guess they made this decision so as not to put anybody off. Trying to summarise a story about sentient corn and what happens when two scientists misinterpret a government memo here would make a lot of readers think it was something best left in that dark corner of my library.

The title ends on a plot-twist so bizarre that it’s almost not a shock after everything else you’ve witnessed. The final battle involves a sequence like a Dance Dance Revolution round to an upbeat track about top secret experiments and it’s such a fitting way to round off a game as crazy as this one. Partying with sentient corn and scarecrows in the middle of a field, dancing to an 80s-style song while trying to save their world – now that sounds just like my kind of shindig.

It’s time for the choir to take a short break so we’ll be back for the tenth day of Blogmas tomorrow, with three things we want gamers to know about video games for the new year. In the meantime, why not tell us your own memorable moments in gaming in the comments below?