One of the most common videogame tropes next to square-jaw, gravelly voiced marines and legendary space heroes is the re-animated corpse that is the “zombie”. Zombies and their variations have been featured in so many current-gen classics, from the iconic first-person shooter series Call of Duty to the grim and emotional The Walking Dead. Yet has the golden age of zombies come and gone? Should we abandon the “zombie” genre for next-gen or allow it to shuffle on for the next console era? Here’s what I think.
Next-Gen is exciting, no doubt about it. Game developers will have more powerful technology to work with to make games even better than the already incredible standard we have now. There’s a chance for us to tap into new worlds and concepts like never before. Yet how come one of Xbox One’s launch titles is an open-world zombie game? Now I’m not saying Dead Rising is a bad game by any means. In fact, I think the game has a sense of humour that is well appreciated, and it’s a solid idea to mow down zombies in the most imaginative and creative ways possible.
No, Dead Rising sucks as a launch title because it’s way too safe. When you compare Dead Rising to something like Destiny concept-wise, you realise how frustrated I am that a game where you kill zombies is a launch title when it could be something amazing and unlike anything we’ve seen before. Microsoft aren’t trying to be risky with their launch titles, and having a generic zombie game screams that they’re just trying to appeal to the masses and not try something new for a change.
I’m not trying to put down zombie games in this piece. I absolutely love The Walking Dead’s emotional tale, and I also love playing Left 4 Dead/Dead Island online for some good old zombie smashing fun times. However, I think that the golden age has come and gone. While I understand that certain game series like Resident Evil should certainly continue to make games, I think that new IPs like Dying Light should differentiate themselves from previous “generic” zombie titles. I do have to compliment the game for attempting to do something different than the usual “slay all zombies” mindset.
The game looks good based on the new gameplay trailer, but I am more impressed by the free running, manoeuvrability and genuine horror, not the typical-looking zombies. The night cycle genuinely looks terrifying and the ending where the main character hightails it away from a massive horde of zombies was pure, nail-biting terror. Let’s face it, zombies are getting too common in videogames these days, and we must either implement brand new twists on the genre or we need to take a break from the generic trope. Either option can certainly refresh the industry’s increasingly stale love for the undead.
I believe that we have already reached the pinnacle of zombies with The Walking Dead. The game offers an emotional roller coaster that hits hard as well as gameplay that will have you on the edge of your seat. That’s why there’s a need to have games that can either live up to the game’s experience or have a twist or unique mechanic that sets the game apart from the boring traditional open-world zombie games. One of the most important things about The Walking Dead is the game realises that sometimes human beings are more terrifying than the living dead in a world where the deceased walk the earth, and that delivers some astounding and iconic storytelling. We’ve certainly reached the highpoint in this zombie genre, so should we just call it a day with this genre before the end of this current generation?
So there you have it. I believe that the zombie genre has (excuse the pun) been done to death and doesn’t have a place in the next-gen world as there’s a lot of opportunities to explore something fresh and new with the next generation. We either do something new with the genre or leave it alone for next-gen. Can we focus on a new trope now and start making games about giant robots versus giant monsters like Pacific Rim? That’d be great. Just saying.
So what do you think? Should we kill the zombie genre with a swift strike or allow it to live long into the next-gen? Let me know what you think below or in the forums!