What does it mean to be human? That question has haunted humanity since the inception of free thought and might continue to plague, fascinate and perplex humanity until the last human being breathes his or her last breath. In our current cultural epoch it has become popular to imagine what the apocalypse will be like, and in most of these instances humanity answers for its sins against nature, itself and existence by facing the unknown horror that is unrelenting evil. Unrelenting evil is one of those archetypes that is used in fictional settings to convey a sense of horror, desperation and longing, and it seems to always work. Without a doubt, the unrelenting evil of the past ten years has to be the zombie.
The zombie has become a cultural icon; rotten flesh, back from the dead, an inability to reason and only purpose to kill those that can still reason and turn them into a walking corpse as well. Because, let’s be honest, what is more scary than something that quite simply cannot be reasoned with? I think that the ArmA II mod, DayZ, has shown us what is more scary than an unreasonable zombie, and that is someone desperate to survive. DayZ began as just another zombie mod to just another first person shooter, nothing out of the ordinary. The thing was, this was an open world and perma-death was very real.
To quote Neil Young, “but once you’re gone, you can never come back.” This added to the tension of the game, and also created an atmosphere where other survivors became the real problem. Zombies were just the mindless annoyances that you had to be careful to avoid, but humans were the problem. Somewhere, someone is doing a Master’s Thesis on what this says about humanity and society, or at least they should be.
If you don’t have ArmA II or don’t want to deal with the people blatantly cheating in DayZ, come December there will be a standalone version of DayZ, and today, they released some shots on their official Tumblr. Basically, they’ve gone through Chernarus and made more of the homes accessible, which can only add to the fun. Check those shots out here.