The Last of Us Part II is set to come out this week, but review scores have already been rolling in to pump up excitement for the latest entry in Naughty Dog’s expensive-looking apocalyptic survival horror series. Generally speaking, the game has already received near universal praise for its technical prowess, it’s a little less clear whether its story and tone will be as successful.
Some of this is due to the review embargo Naughty Dog has put in place around The Last of Us Part II, which has restricted critics from writing about the game in its entirety. Outside of that, there has been also heavy discussion among writers about how the game’s tone feels overly brutal and needlessly bleak, particularly since these aspects are seemingly being used in order to raise the same tired questions about player agency and violence that have been explored repeatedly in over a decade’s worth of “prestige” games.
With all of this in mind, we wanted to recommend a few games that could give you what you might be looking or hoping for from The Last of Us Part II but in a mobile format. Whether you’re just looking for some zombie killing, a harrowing survival experience, or games that handle questions of violence with some nuance and subtlety, we’ve got you covered. See below:
The Walking Dead is basically a classic at this point. Telltale’s breakout hit based on Robert Kirkman’s long-running comic series basically transformed the modern adventure game genre while also telling one of the best stories in games across its five episode arc.
In this game, you play as Lee Everett, a convicted criminal who is on his way to jail just as the zombie apocalypse begins. This kicks off a narrative-focused adventure of survival where your main interactions revolve around making decisions on how you want to move forward, and then having to live with the consequences of those decisions. There may not be a whole lot of fast action here, but the tension and storytelling here are gripping in ways that many other games can’t match.
A turn-based tactics game steeped in Norse mythology might not seem to share much in common with The Last of Us Part II, but hear me out: Both of these games are mid-chapters about apocalyptic events, and they feature characters that are trying to reconcile the death and destruction they’re surrounded by.
The Banner Saga 2 is a bleak tale of survival where your characters are constantly questioning their struggle, its validity, and whether they have all the answers they think they need to actually change things. It’s also just a great little strategy game with gorgeous art that you should play, regardless of how similar to The Last of Us Part II you think it is.
If kicking back and killing zombies is your thing, Death Road to Canada is the game for you. This lighthearted roguelite survival game involves trying to drive a car through the zombie apocalypse from Florida to Canada, where supposedly things are safe.
Along the way, things can and will go very wrong, and your only path forward usually involves charging through crowds of zombies and shooting or bashing them all as you go. Death Road to Canada has a much sillier tone than The Last of Us Part II, but that helps cut the tension of what can otherwise be a pretty overwhelming action game.
What happens after the zombie apocalypse? How do you recover? These are questions that Rebuild 3 tackles through its Civilization-style strategic gameplay. You play as a survivor who has lingered for years in the post-apocalypse, wandering from outpost to outpost in an attempt to re-establish a sense of community and society.
Some of this involves sending groups off to kill zombies, but you also have to negotiate less straightforward situations: How many survivors can you afford to take care of? How do you handle disputes between your people? What happens when a stranger arrives asking for help? Who can you really trust? Rebuild 3 presents situations like this constantly through a blend of mechanical systems and procedurally generated narrative bits, which makes for a surprisingly compelling combination.
Overland is another road trip-style survival game, but it handles its violence in a subtle and nuanced way, to the point that you can even miss it. This turn-based strategy game always provides violence as an option, but the reason for choosing it is always difficult and murky.
Killing the mysterious creatures on your journey usually invites more of them, and it’s unclear whether doing so is justified. Similarly, you can choose to attack traders or other survivors you find to steal their supplies, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. These decisions weigh on you constantly as you try to drive cross country, particularly as your fuel and other supplies start to dwindle.