In this article, we’re going to discuss the top 10 most realistic zombie games.
First off, I know what you’re thinking… zombies aren’t real, so by definition, zombie games aren’t going to be realistic. Well, you’re right, and that’s a good thing. At the end of the day, what we all want in a game is a fun and immersive gameplay experience.
Whether that means a well-written and authentic story, survival mechanics and problem-solving derived from the real world, or an ever-present sense of danger, you want to feel the stakes are high.
To ensure a great time playing a zombie game, opt for something realistic that will have you at the edge of your seat while you navigate hordes of the undead and make it out without getting bitten or scratched.
The Last Stand: Aftermath is a single-player rogue-lite action game by developer Con Artist Games that was released in 2021 to somewhat mixed reviews. If you are a fan of rogue-lite games and zombies, we still think this one might be worth giving a try, especially if you can get it on a decent sale.
In this game, you play as volunteers from a colony known as The End. Your character is already infected with the zombie virus, which means you are always racing the clock before you begin to take damage and ultimately succumb to the virus.
Since this is a rogue-lite, as you play and die, you will be unlocking new mutations and strengths that you’ll get to use to your benefit on your next run as you attempt to get to the end.
The game has gathering and crafting elements as well as weapons that have durability and can break. These two points lend greatly to the game’s realism. Your car has distinct parts that will break down and require repair whether or not you are currently surrounded by zombies.
You will also need food and drink to keep your stamina up so that you can last as long as possible before the virus, or a zombie, inevitably ends your run.
7 Days to Die mixes elements of horror and survival gameplay in a post-apocalyptic setting. By developer The Fun Pimps, the game is in early access but is already in a fun and playable state with a good amount of content.
So far, it has a very positive review rating on Steam and Google. If zombie survival games are your thing, this is a good one to check out.
You start in the usual survival game fashion waking up in the middle of nowhere with nothing but your fists to start knocking down trees and gathering what you need for basic clothing and tools.
You’ll end up collecting resources in the evergreen forests and scavenging for medical supplies in houses and other buildings in various states of disrepair.
This game does a decent job of immersion, and you’ll definitely be wary of walking around corners in a house you just entered or hearing steps and grunting from a zombie you haven’t spotted yet.
When a zombie attacks, you’ll have a chance of infection that will need to be treated with antibiotics or grow worse and eventually kill you. You’ll be boiling water, salvaging mechanical parts for crafting important items, and leveling up needed skills to stay alive another day.
Be wary of sprains, abrasions, and broken bones, as all of them can slow you down and end your run early. When it comes to zombies, realism means danger, and 7 Days to Die has that in spades.
Dead State is a turn-based survival horror RPG by developer DoubleBear Productions. It was released in December of 2014 to decent but somewhat lukewarm reviews.
The game is set in Texas, where a group of survivors work together to build a shelter in an old school building. The game’s graphics are somewhat simplistic, and overall the game launched in a state that was a bit rough around the edges.
That being said, the game has some good roleplaying elements underneath, and there are some interesting, though a bit sparse, interactions between your characters. The game is helped out by some good voice acting, and you definitely get to choose whether you spend your time building and cleaning at the base or heading out to scavenge important items in the zombie-infested world.
However, the game’s combat leaves something to be desired, but overall, it is kept together by plot and the balance needed for your group to survive.
It is the inevitable clash of big personalities and social group complexities mixed with the mundane elements of post-apocalyptic survival that land Dead State on our list.
That, and the ever-present danger of your characters being bit and needing to stave off an inevitable zombie infection, puts Dead State at a solid number 8.
Developed by Bend Studio and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4, Days Gone is a 2019 open-world action-adventure game. If you want to play on PC, there was a version of the game released on Windows in May 2021.
The game got somewhat mixed reviews on release, but it currently has a ‘very positive’ review rating on Steam.
You play as Deacon St. John, who is a motorcycle-riding drifter and bounty hunter. The game is set in Oregon two years after the start of a zombie outbreak.
Your in-game perspective is third person, and the game looks good, though it falls short of stunning. Even so, it’s enjoyable riding around the world on your motorcycle, clearing zombies (called Freakers) to open up new travel paths.
You spend so much time biking around, it’s a good thing that Bend Studio successfully made motorcycle travel and handling feel good and responsive.
Days Gone combines stealth with a fast-paced run and gun combat in a story that provides an emotional throughline. Zombies are easy enough to pick off when they are alone, but when they gather in impressively large and terrifying hordes, you’ll need to think fast and move faster to stay alive.
All of this, when combined with the fact you can run out of gas and will need to constantly fix up your bike, lands this title a spot on our list.
DayZ is an online multiplayer survival game by publisher and developer Bohemia Interactive. The game came out in December of 2018 to largely poor reviews, but continued to fix problems after launch, and currently sits at a ‘mostly positive’ review rating on Steam. DayZ is also available on Xbox One and PS4.
You play as (you guessed it) a survivor scavenging for resources in a post-apocalyptic and zombie-filled world. The game is set in the fictional Republic of Chernarus, where a virus has turned most of the population into zombies known as “infected”.
You must fight other players, the elements, and the infested to try and survive. The map is huge, and you get to decide how you want to spend your time in the game.
Beware of other players—although they can be helpful allies, they can also choose to turn on you without a moment’s notice in an attempt to take your weapons and supplies.
DayZ has realistic survival elements, such as the need for food and water. You will also need to find the right clothes and attempt to stay warm.
Similarly, you will want a gas mask to enter infected areas, or your prolonged exposure will lead to vomiting and then death. You can also become sick with a common cold, cholera, and a variety of other status effects, such as bleeding.
As expected under the circumstances of the game, it’s not an easy world out there. We recommend that players just starting out try a PvE server to familiarize themselves with the game before jumping into a world where other hostile players abound.
The Last of Us Part 1 is a survival horror action-adventure game by Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive Entertainment.
The game came out in 2022 for the PlayStation5 and is a popular remake of the 2013 game “The Last of Us” which was released for PS3 to almost unanimously high praise from critics.
The game’s PC port came with a host of bugs and performance issues on release, and as of writing this, we still recommend you not spend the $59.99 being asked for it until these issues have been sufficiently addressed.
With that being said, this is a successful remake of a modern classic known for its gripping and emotional story that is back with great performances by its cast of voice actors.
Set in Austin, Texas, It features beautifully rendered and gritty environments where the stealth and action combat elements of the game play out.
The Last of Us Part 1 makes this list because of the environmental nuance and visual fidelity mixed with a story that will keep you immersed and pull at your heartstrings.
Its excellent sound design and rich combat system enhance the experience, and if you’re able to pick it up for PS5 or wait for them to fix the Windows version of the game, this one is easy to recommend.
Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead is a community-developed and open-source roguelike that was first released in 2013. The game has been positively received and was named one of “The 50 Best Free Games on PC” by Rock, Paper, Shotgun in 2016.
The game has simplistic top-down graphics, and if that just isn’t your thing, we understand. If, however, you can get past or simply don’t mind the old-school graphics, there is a huge amount of content in Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead.
You can create your own character or start with a premade option, such as novice martial artist, used car salesman, or lumberjack. Each character starts out in different world locations and with different stats and abilities.
This is a survival sandbox game, and your only true objective is to survive. This task is given an edge by the fact that the game features permadeath – meaning you can’t just start over at your last save point if your character dies.
Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead features an almost ludicrously in-depth crafting system that allows you to make everything from flashlights to complex armored vehicles.
If you don’t have all of the correct materials you need, you’ll likely be able to improvise by using something that, although not perfect for the job, can get the job done. This is the sort of freedom and complexity of choice that gives this zombie game its realistic edge.
No More Room in Hell is a first-person survival horror co-op game by creator Matt Kazan. It saw its first standalone release in October 2013 and received mostly positive reviews. If you are interested in trying it out, the game is available for free on Steam.
We’re going to jump right into aspects of this game’s gritty realism since it seems to have led to many aspects of its design.
Firstly, the game doesn’t feature aiming crosshairs for weapons and doesn’t show stamina or health levels. In order to check how much ammo you have left in a weapon, for instance, you’ll have to remove the magazine and take a look.
Additionally, this is a game in which zombies pose a real danger—and doesn’t rely on a classic zombie video game cliche of your player character being immune to the infection.
If you get scratched, there is a chance you will start bleeding and need bandages to help close the wound. If, on the other hand, you get bit by a zombie, there is a chance you can become infected. If you don’t find a way to ultimately cure yourself, you’ll turn into a zombie and attack your former teammates.
No More Room In Hell is a dark, challenging, and extremely realistic game that will make you feel the danger of its world with every step.
State of Decay 2 is an open-world survival game by developer Undead Labs. The game was released for PC and Xbox One in May 2018 as a follow-up to the first State of Decay.
The game had a somewhat lukewarm reception on launch but currently holds a ‘very positive’ rating on Steam with over 37,000 reviews.
You play as a group of survivors that you’ll need to keep well-fed, rested, and happy in order to have the best chance at continued survival. This means that your resources are constantly taxed as zombies keep attacking your chosen base, trying to get in for mealtime.
Luckily, State of Decay 2 makes scavenging a fairly intuitive process, as it only takes driving by buildings to get a decent idea of what’s inside.
For instance, you’ll most likely find food in restaurants and fuel at gas stations—although I know this sounds basic and obvious, this is the sort of simple logic many games manage to miss.
With perma death for individual survivors, the need to constantly scavenge for supplies, a desire to keep your group content, and the dangerous and open-world gameplay, State of Decay 2 is easily one of the most realistic zombie games out there.
Project Zomboid is an open-world isometric survival game by developer The Indie Stone. The game has been in early access since 2013 and already has a loyal fan base with a very positive Steam rating after over 150,000 reviews.
It’s already in a very playable state with a ton of content, so if you want to play, we don’t think it’s necessary to wait for the official 1.0 release of the game.
Project Zomboid is set in Rural Kentucky, where you will need to hide, scavenge and fight to stay alive another day. You play as a survivor with one of 21 different occupations, such as repairman, farmer, chef, or lumberjack, which will create the starting point for your stats and skills.
The realism, complexity, and amount of player choice in Project Zomboid are huge. You’ll have to think through every situation or suffer its consequences.
For example, your character will become bored if you don’t have hobbies to entertain them; you can cut yourself on broken windows if you try to crawl through without first removing the glass; the crops you grow can become diseased, and that disease can spread if you don’t use pesticides.
Or, even the cars in the game have AC and also need keys for you to drive them, or you can even take off your shoes in order to sneak more quietly and thus avoid detection by zombies.
These are just a few small examples of the realism, danger, and complexity present in Project Zomboid, which have made it an easy choice for the top spot on this list.
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