Still The Best Zombie Game

Still The Best Zombie Game

It’s 2023 and over the weekend I accidentally stayed up far later than I expected replaying Undead Nightmare on my Nintendo Switch. Not only am I having a sweet time with the 13-year-old expansion, but I’m excited that one of the best zombie games ever made, and one of Rockstar’s greatest hits, is finally accessible to more people via the newly released Switch and PS4 ports. It’s just a shame they cost $50.

While the original Red Dead Redemption was a grounded and gritty tale of revenge and trying to escape one’s past, the western’s one and only single-player expansion went a very different direction. Undead Nightmare, released on October 26, 2010, was a paid expansion that added a whole new mini-campaign for RDR players. The creepy expansion added spooky creatures and deadly zombies to the vast open world of Red Dead Redemption. After his family gets infected by the undead curse, RDR’s protagonist and former outlaw John Marston grabs a shotgun and a lasso and heads out into the zombie-infested prairies and deserts to save his wife and son, and possibly the world.

And now the original game and its beloved expansion are combined into a single release on Switch and PS4. And thankfully, the Switch port is a solid way to play this zombified western.

Undead Nightmare is still perfectly creepy and fun in 2023

There’s a lot to love about Undead Nightmare, but what keeps me coming back to it every few years is the atmosphere and vibe of its zombie-filled open world. In Undead Nightmare, especially during the early portion of the DLC, you are outnumbered and constantly vulnerable to the undead lurking around the entire map. There are no cars or big buildings to hide in. This is the Old West. Machine guns are huge and impractical, ammo is spare, weapons aren’t accurate, and horses provide little protection from a horde of hungry infected. Exploring the creepy and haunted world of Undead Nightmare feels terrifying and unnerving in a way most zombie games fail to capture.

Helping the vibes of Undead Nightmare a lot is the incredible music, taking some of the themes and instruments found in the main RDR soundtrack and twisting them into horror-inspired tunes that add a wonderful weird west vibe to the action.

Rockstar Games

Also helping the vibes: The entire world is spooky and dangerous. Every character you meet is out of their minds, people get eaten by zombies constantly, Bigfoot and the Chupacabra run wild, and even the moon is a pale, sickly green. As you travel from town to town, helping push back the horde of undead and securing temporary safe havens for survivors, you’ll always feel like you’re playing through some grindhouse-era horror film about cowboys and zombies. It’s wonderful, and the perfect game to play during Halloween.

In my time with the new port on Nintendo’s aging console, I rarely ran into performance issues. The only major exception happened during fights with huge hordes of zombies and survivors. Here the game would start to chug for a bit, similar to how it played on the Xbox 360 back in the day. (On a more positive note: The PS4 version didn’t buckle nearly at during similar large horde fights.)

It’s disappointing that all these years later, on a new console, this $50 port doesn’t bring anything new to the table like a 60fps mode or enhanced visuals. It’s also a shame that Undead Nightmare’s online zombie horde mode is absent from the Switch and PS4 versions of the game, as that mode was a ton of fun with friends.

Still, if you can overlook the missing online modes and the lack of visual upgrades or tweaks, this is a fantastic way to play Undead Nightmare. I can imagine taking the Switch out on a camping trip into the woods and playing this spooky game at night around a campfire, jumping at every noise you hear from the darkness around you. It’s just that the high price tag might understandably keep some folks away until Red Dead Redemption’s new ports go on sale.

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