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OCL’s Two Cents: Zombies Need to Die For Good

posted Jan 5, 2014, 4:37 PM by oneclipleft   [ updated Jan 5, 2014, 4:41 PM ]
Well, at least for awhile. A long, long while. Zombies have been going strong in gaming for a long time now (probably since Half-Life’s original batch of zombie mods), but the sheer volume of zombie flavored games currently swirling around might stagger even the most stalwart survivalist. From just a quick glance on Steam’s front page, I discovered 12 games featuring zombies to some extent. Here’s the list of titles in the order in which I found them:
  1. 7 Days To Die
  2. The Walking Dead Season 1 and 2
  3. DayZ
  4. Project Zomboid
  5. Nether
  6. Zombie Tycoon II
  7. Dead Sky
  8. Wasteland 2
  9. State of Decay
  10. Killing Floor
  11. Dying Light
  12. Ray’s The Dead
Don’t get me wrong, some of these are great games (The Walking Dead anyone?), and some of these are goofy or even spoofy, but after awhile these titles just start to bleed together. Take DayZ for instance. Is this a continuation of the mod Day-Z? Is there any connection to the book or the movie World War Z? Ignoring the fact that they’re selling something that won’t be released for over a year, the mere concept of another DayZ, regardless of spelling/punctuation, is simultaneously confusing and unmemorable. Here’s the description for the game (keep in mind, I’m not knocking the game. It might be awesome. I’m just knocking the tired subject matter):

“Welcome to the world of DayZ, hit by a new and presently unknown infection which has wiped out most of the world's population. You are one of the few that have survived and now you must search this new wasteland in order to fight for your life against what is left of the indigenous population now infected with the disease. Go solo, team up with friends or take on the world, as you choose your path in this brutal and chilling landscape using whatever means you stumble upon to survive.”

Replace “DayZ” with nearly any other multiplayer survivalist game featuring the increasingly vague threat “the infected” and nothing will change (Dead Island immediately comes to mind at least). Hell, if you remove the multiplayer survivalist angle, this might fit the description of Zombies Ate My Neighbors. The first thing that bugs me is how there is a big ol’ capital “Z” in the title, but no mention of the word “zombie” anywhere on the Steam page. Why even call it DayZ then? Why not just call it Day of The Infected or DayV for Virus? The description doesn’t just avoid the cliché word “zombie,” though. They actually go to great lengths to make this tired overworked idea sound fresh.

I particularly enjoy how they emphasize that whatever infection this game features is “new and presently unknown.” Right. Like the zombie virus is a fresh concept from some visionary horror genius. I also enjoy “you are one of the few that have survived.” No shit? I get to play one of the survivors? Then they mention new again with “new wasteland.” Will it really be different from any other zombie wasteland ever envisioned? Not likely. But they have to keep pressing words like “new” and “unknown” in order to keep this game summary even remotely engaging. It’s the illusion of the new thing, but definitely not a new thing in itself.

Now, I’m not saying that every game needs to be experimental and interesting like Overgrowth, The Novelist, or two of my recent favorites, The Swapper and Shelter. Those types of games have their place just like tired, overused survivalist post-apocalyptic zombie shooters do. And I’m definitely not saying that we need more games like Professional Farmer 2014 or Woodcutter 2013 (yes, someone made these games exist for some reason). I’m just saying we as a gaming culture should move on to the next big obsession already. Zombies are over. Decapitate and set aflame already. Well, that's my two cents at least. Peace!
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