Zombies are a reliable cultural phenomenon. If you want to sprinkle a little danger and high-stakes drama on your fictional premise, then add zombies. It’s an approach that’s worked for The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later (yes, they’re not technically zombies, but they fulfil the same purpose) and Sony’s upcoming epic Days Gone, among others. Zombies are a universal villain: they’re unstoppable monsters with no recourse to reason, so they’re a natural fit for villainy.
They’re also a great bad guy for video games. You can dispatch as many of these shambling horrors as you like without feeling guilty, making them perfect fodder for shooters, hack-and-slash games and horror titles. Our beloved PSP may be in its twilight years, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its fair share of excellent zombie games. Here’s our pick of the PSP’s best undead extravaganzas.
We start with a remake of 1998 action-adventure title MediEvil. MediEvil Resurrection was a launch title for the PSP back in 2005, and with so much goodwill still hanging around for the original it’s not hard to see why. Daniel Fortesque’s quest is as grotesquely funny and compelling as it’s ever been, with sumptuously reworked visuals and updated gameplay which takes advantage of the PSP’s smooth analogue controls. There are zombies galore to battle in MediEvil Resurrection, but the game also contains a swathe of standard horror stalwarts like skeletons and gargoyles to conquer. If you’re looking for a zombie title for your PSP and haven’t given MediEvil Resurrection a try yet, start here.
Obscure: The Aftermath
We’re cheating slightly here, since the enemies in Obscure: The Aftermath aren’t technically zombies. The plot concerns an outbreak of spores which infect students and turn them into mindless monstrosities, though, so we’re counting it. Obscure is, appropriately enough, a fairly obscure horror series which began life on the PlayStation 2, before worming its way to the Nintendo Wii and PSP some time later. Obscure: The Aftermath is actually a port of the second game in the series, appropriately titled Obscure II, and those looking for their survival horror jollies will find plenty of them here.
Silent Hill: Origins
Despite the slightly hackneyed sub-title, Silent Hill: Origins has plenty of portable scares to offer the discerning zombie fan. Again, the enemies in Silent Hill are technically not zombies; depending on the instalment, the nature of the enemy changes, but rarely are the beasties encountered actual undead. That said, Silent Hill is a veteran horror franchise, and we’d kick ourselves if we didn’t recommend it over a small technicality like that. Origins brings the dual-world gameplay of the series over to the PSP largely intact, and contains the same puzzle solving, slightly clunky combat (that’s a good thing in a horror game) and deep storytelling as its forebears.
Those searching for a slightly more offbeat take on the undead should look no further than Tecmo’s Undead Knights. The game is a fairly standard hack-and-slash affair, playing out like a cross between Dynasty Warriors and Devil May Cry, but it’s in the odd setting and idiosyncratic aesthetic that Undead Knights really shines. Despite the lack of colour on offer in the game’s actual palette, Undead Knights is a colourful affair, combining action gameplay with real-time strategy in a way that’s not massively dissimilar to cult hit Overlord. Undead Knights won’t trouble your PSP for more than a few hours, but you’ll have a blast with it while it’s there.
Dead Head Fred
Ever wish 1940s noir had zombies in it? Dead Head Fred is the game for you. Developed by US-based company Vicious Cycle Software, Dead Head Fred stars an undead private investigator who can switch the head on his shoulders on the fly. As such, the game is a sort of mish-mash of action-adventure, platformer and puzzle game, with some Metroidvania-style elements as Fred unlocks more heads to interact with the environment. Just like Undead Knights, the quality of this game lies more in its presentation and offbeat aesthetic than in its actual gameplay; this isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s a curate’s egg, and it deserves to be revisited.
Resident Evil (PS Store)
We finish with an abject classic, and a game that almost needs no introduction, so ubiquitous is its influence. When the PSP was first released, it was possible to play PS1 games on it through the PS Store, and lucky individuals who still have the games downloaded onto their system can still access them if they’re smart. Resident Evil is a classic through and through, and although its chunky controls and ripe voice acting mark it out as a product of its era, it’s a masterpiece of atmosphere and B-movie-style scares. This is the game that gave birth to many of gaming’s most iconic horror moments: the dogs jumping through the corridor window, the “master of unlocking”, and many more we won’t spoil.