The stories of the Undead stretched back as far as every Legend in culture, but the game Dungeons and Dragons was one of several that made the trope popular for the fantasy genre. Zombies, as always, are dark, deadly creatures that will fuck up your day if you let them. They’re also obviously a part of the fantasy genre. So, it would be fitting to insert them in Diablo — a Dark Fantasy series about fighting the forces of hell.
Zombies have always been aligned to the dark side, apparently—in Diablo, you have these Walkers shambling around with their less-skinned brethren, Skeletons, while in Diablo II you have foes that raise the dead. I don’t like the misconception that the raising the dead are necessarily evil—they could be used for good, too. I remember one bad-ass moment in the fifth installment of Percy Jackson wherein the god of the Dead, Hades, sets loose his army of skeletons to aid the Olympians. So it isn’t unheard of that necromancy is necessarily evil—it just lies very deep in Anti-Heroic territory, that we misconceive it to be evil. In short, it isn’t evil all the time.
Which leads us to Diablo II, and the surprisingly-fun-to-use Necromancer. I downloaded this game the other day, and I find it a lot of fun to play as the Necro, specifically the Summonmancer build. In the said build, my skills usually revolved around skeleton mastery and summoning thralls to fight for me. Which was totally the reflection of my personality. (Hehe) And possibly, a stylistic preference.
A usual sight in Diablo 2: Skeletons, armed with scythes, running around your vicinity, killing everyone that isn’t your Friend, while you idly stand around and watch them do their thing, or even participate in the battles yourself. I certainly did that, cleaving other Undead, mutant beasts or demons in my way. Or blowing the crap out of them using my Corpse Explosion spell.
Anyway, I still love fighting the general Undead—there was a part in the second act where you fight these brilliant-looking (and not to mention Menacing) Greater Mummies, Undead that previously grafted animal parts on their bodies so that their powers would double in the Un-life. Their very appearance gives me this sudden feeling of dread, until I kill one, and I realize that if I could down one, I could use the aforementioned corpse explosion spell and blow the others up to bits.
I think Diablo is a very good example of how the Undead can be used for the side of good (or, atleast, it can be used for Anti-Heroic deeds), and still be menacing enough to be a horrifying foe. But that doesn’t make killing them less satisfying.
Edit: NO, I haven’t played Diablo III yet. Don’t wank about not finding it here, please. This is a retrospective. Diablo and Diablo II fit perfectly, since this is a retrospective article.