Zombies are fun. Zombie movies are fun to watch. Zombie video games are more fun! There’s nothing like taking your frustrations out on a bunch of virtual undead eating machines and coming out on top. Some games offer you this and then some but over time there are elements in these games that have been done once or twice that start to become overused to the point that they become an annoying cliché that makes the genre repetitive and no longer fun. Since many developers are starting to get into the “immersion” fad.
In gaming, culture immersion is when developers want the player(s) to feel like they are literally in the game, generally, this is applied towards VR devices like Oculus Rift but this practice is starting to find its way into non-VR games. For example, the winter sports game Steep the game can only be played online in a public lobby which many gaming fans find annoying (which it is) players are pretty much forced to share mountain slopes with other online players in real time.
The game’s developers have addressed this many times in comment sections on social media saying that they want players to experience what it would really be like if you were on the slopes, if this is the case then the mountains would not literally talk to you rendering the whole “immersion” argument invalid in my opinion.
So with that in mind, here’s 9 clichés in zombie video games that should die and not come back from the dead!
Designed to add a challenge for new and veteran players alike, weapons you find laying around and use to smash zombie skulls in or slice off limbs. Eventually, these weapons break and require repair or in games like Dead Rising, just vanish from your inventory requiring you to scavenge around for more. It even gets to a point where it becomes unrealistic, you can hit a zombie so many times with a crowbar before it’s rendered useless…maybe if it was made out of Popsicle sticks and paste. As said before this is to add a challenge to the game but if the game is already challenging then this just makes it not fun and the chance of you playing the game again or buying the game’s sequel highly doubtful.
Zombies are gross, they’re rotting ghouls covered in caked blood and possibly their own filth (assuming the plumbing still works), but now you have them spew what they ate? OK, that’s a bit nasty. I first saw this in Resident Evil 1and 2 where sometimes the Zombie shuffles over and just upchucks stomach acid on you and causes a little bit of damage but afterward in other games it evolved into a fire hose of bile and goo that impair your vision or drains your health. Then, later on, they turned zombies into an undead Dilophosaurus from Jurassic Park where they have range and shoot streams or blobs of goop at you. The probability for a human living and living dead to be able to produce that much fluid is highly unlikely.
I know decaying bodies “explode” but not that violently! It makes the scenario laughable as it makes it appear that undead mindless zombies are organized and have a suicide bomber squadron that seeks out players to blow up to weaken them. They’re usually depicted as an obese person who became a zombie or a badly decomposed body that’s bloating. It’s one thing if zombies have a potential explosive device on them like in Dyeing Light where there are zombies in hazmat suits with oxygen tanks on their backs that if you hit them they blow up, they don’t have the ability or knowhow to make their own bodies explode on command. Again it comes down to not being realistic as how many developers want to make games “immersive”.
You already feel like the odd man/woman out by being the only living person surrounded by a bunch of zombies but now you are made to feel smaller by having these hulking zombies that tower over the pipsqueak zombies. First thing I think of when I see these big guys is “I wonder if he was that big when he was alive!” if that’s the case what are the odds of you running into so many people with Gigantism in one place? Gigantism affects 3 out of 1 million people around the world, so either where the game takes place is a record holder for “most people with Gigantism living in one place” or there was a convention where people with that condition were meeting.
Zombies are pretty straightforward, it’s a person that was once dead but they’re somehow alive but not really alive, they look like their old self but not, etcetera. It’s what you expect a zombie virus to do to a person, turn them into a zombie… not mutate them into something completely different! I’m giving credit where it’s due, in the video game series Left 4 Dead players encounter a lot of these mutated zombies and it seemed afterward other games followed suit practically copying the ideas. In the Resident Evil series you’ve seen a lot of mutations that are usually explained in the stories as these were the results of experiments involving other viruses or genetic mutation experiments carried out by the scientists of Umbrella or the virus in question is not a zombie-making virus at all as seen in Resident Evil 4, 5, and 6 and where it’s some type of parasitic organism that causes mutations, the same can be said about The Last of Us where it’s not really a zombie virus at all its just fungus. If something like that is not made obvious in any zombie game, shame on the game’s writers.
Fast Running Zombies
Since the remake of Dawn of the Dead, the new fad in both Hollywood and video games is making zombies into Usain Bolt. Purists would rather deal with shuffling zombies in large groups, the number of them is challenging, look at Dead Rising its wall to wall zombies and they’re slow! What are the odds that someone who was “Dead” and came back to life would have perfect motor skills after their brain was deprived of oxygen for a while? It starts the whole debate all over again with 28 Days/Weeks Later, World War Z, And Train to Busan on the topic of “Are they really zombies?” because they don’t really “eat” anyone, they become infected fast, and of course the fact that they can sprint like an Olympian!
In the middle of the zombie apocalypse no doubt people can use anything as a weapon in order to fight for survival but I doubt everyone has the technical know-how to create a machete with a Tesla coil wrapped around the blade that harms those that are hit rendering the user completely unharmed, admit it you’ve watched those videos on YouTube that shows people trying out some type of handheld weapon only for it to fail terribly for them (but hilariously for us), so the idea that an average Joe can make a modified weapon, that would be impossible to safely make in the first place unless the story takes place in an alternate reality where raccoons are used as currency, and successfully use it on the first try and it keeps working.
You see this a lot in many video games not just zombie themed ones but other horror games (they tend to stand out more in horror), drama. No not the drama of trying to survive a zombie outbreak, drama that has nothing to do with it at all! This is a major flaw in many shows and movies but it’s starting to make its way into the video games as well. The last thing I think players (and sane people in real life if they were in this situation) care about during a survival situation involving zombies is who’s cheating on who with who, who someone likes, pretty much anything that really has nothing to do with what’s going on. In some zombie games, they’re not so in your face but they still have them in there but some of the in your face stuff leads to the following…
Nothing takes away from a zombie apocalypse plot more than an evil (human) villain who’s the main antagonist. It’s one thing if there’s an organization (military or corporate) working in the shadows pulling the strings that caused the zombie outbreak, OK that’s one thing but to have an organized leader of a group of survivors whose more “Bond villain” than human or a organized group of psychopaths terrorizing survivors instead of zombies terrorizing survivors it makes one shout at the TV while throwing their controller/or computer mouse, “Why have zombies in the first place?!”.
During many crises that occurred in the US from natural disasters or manmade chaos (The Northeast Blackout of 2003) people did not go and start pillaging their neighbors for weapons and food, people did not start building forts out of cars and picked off anyone who walked by, no, people surprisingly remained calm and helped others or in the case of the blackout, partied. So the chances of having a Negan (The Walking Dead) or Rais (Dying Light) is highly unlikely in real life even in a video game world.