We pay homage to some great video game zombies that time may have forgotten but that still hold a special place in our geeky gamer hearts.
Death has always been a fear for mankind, but the fear of bodies coming back without their humanity takes that primal terror to an unnatural level. From the black-and-white Night of the Living Dead to Season 1 of The Last of Us, zombies have always been a popular part of our horror culture. This year has been no different.
In fact, 2023 was an incredible year for the undead. We’ve been lucky enough to have a fantastic remake of the original Dead Space, which finally included dialogue for our originally silent protagonist, Isaac Clarke. After playing through it and loving every minute of it, I’ve got zombies on the brain.
Back in my younger days, before I had a career or a kid to take care of, I could have spent an entire day killing zombies on my Xbox or Nintendo 64. There are the obvious zombie games to play, such as Resident Evil or Call of Duty Zombies, but I feel those games are sufficiently cemented into our minds. There are others I would like to introduce you to because… good things shouldn’t be forgotten.
In honor of the Dead Space remake, I bring you this list highlighting five of the best forgotten Undead from the world of video games.
5. The Rakghouls (Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2003)
When we speak of the undead in Star Wars, most devout fans think of Joe Schreiber’s novel Death Troopers or the Nightsisters of Dathomir, which appeared recently in Jedi Fallen Order. I have decided, however, to focus on a more fringe example, the Rakghouls of Taris.
Taking place thousands of years before the Galactic Empire, the city of Taris was divided into three sections: the upper city for the wealthy and privileged, the lower city for the gangs and the impoverished, and the under city for the destitute. Amongst the bases of the massive skyscrapers, away from the settled areas, were the Rakghouls. Their skin soured gray, and with claws instead of fingers, these unfortunate refugees fell victim to the plague.
They were once human but were unlucky enough to contract the deadly virus and were cast out from the colonies of the undercity, where they eventually succumbed to the animalistic depravity inside them, living in the sewers and feasting on corpses and slavers.
4. Zombie Squirrels (Conker’s Bad Fur Day 2001)
Being WAY ahead of its time, Conker’s Bad Fur Day follows an alcoholic squirrel after a night of binge drinking. What follows is an epic quest that includes war scenes we haven’t seen since Saving Private Ryan, shootouts we haven’t experienced since The Matrix, and even a xenomorph. Filled to the brim with mature humor and profanity, this game broke the mold and is revered as a cult classic, although it came a little late to the N64.
Although I already mentioned the epic boss battle with a xenomorph, the horror elements in this game don’t stop there. The haunted house is home to a wicked vampire squirrel, Conker’s great-great-great-great-great grandfather. After feeding some villagers into a massive blender and falling into it himself, Conker is left alone in the mansion with seemingly hundreds of the undead… and a shotgun.
The game is a silly ride that I think every gamer and lover of zombies should take.
3. Red Dead Redemption (Undead Nightmare 2010)
Walk into any Gamestop (if those even exist), and you will find the used game bins littered with copies of this absolute treasure of a game — in fact, that’s how I got my copy of the game.
After his wife and son are given some sort of manic-inducing virus from a family friend, John Marston goes off to find a possible cure, liberating villages from hordes of the living dead along the way.
Take all of the incredible aspects of the award-winning game Red Dead Redemption, add zombies, and what do you get? A work of art. **Chef’s Kiss**
2. The Zombies of Ghoulhaven Hall (Grabbed by the Ghoulies 2003)
As you may have noticed, I have always had a soft spot for Rareware games. Although it wasn’t received terribly well at the time, Grabbed by the Ghoulies is one of my favorite childhood games. Don’t tell my wife, but I named our son after the game’s titular character, Cooper.
This is a great introduction to the world of horror, giving a few good jumps but straying close enough to the sillier side to be safe for children.
The zombies are slow and dumb, like most zombies, but unlike most zombies, these undead beings have a mind of their own. Often accompanied with green clouds of gas, we find these zombies going about their lives (or lack thereof); playing cards, having a dance party, and even having little quarrels amongst each other.
Our main character can also use their detached arms as a melee weapon. It’s not frightening but most definitely endearing.
To me, Grabbed by the Ghoulies represents a more toned-down version of horror that should be preserved so that we may one day share with our own kids.
1. The Gatherers (Amnesia 2010)
For those of us familiar with the world of horror games, Amnesia the Dark Descent holds a special place in our cold, dead hearts. Being one of the first games played by YouTube star Markiplier, it has been inducted into a sort of Hall of Fame.
Although Amnesia the Bunker was released just this last year, it was unfortunately absent of one of the series’ most iconic characters, the Gatherers.
The game describes them as follows:
“…soldiers who abandoned their duty got lost in the cold, dark woods and were forever damned to roam the grounds. Their bodies wrought by their tainted souls have left them disfigured and empty of essence.”
Large sections of torn flesh droop down from their faces, revealing bloodied jowls. They are the terrifying servants of Alexander of Brennanburg, and they cannot be killed.