A hungry horde of zombies is chasing me. It’s freezing out, pitch dark and my feet are soaking wet. I’ve given up avoiding the puddles in favour of avoiding them. Kasabian’s album Empire blares giving me the boost I need to lift my knees higher and move quicker through the woods. Overhanging branches slap me across the face. Deep down I’m glad it’s dark.
I imagine this looks hilarious.
Running is the most common way to get fit and the most common reason to quit. Most use the carrot and stick motivation system of rewards to drive themselves forward. It turns out having zombies, hungry for brains, hot on your heels is much better. Want to run faster and for longer? Run for your life with Zombies, Run!
Run Zombies is an audio simulation game that places the runner in the middle of a pack of zombies. There are various missions you have to work your way through which are accompanied by a storyline.
Things kick off with a pretty realistic soundtrack. You’re inside a helicopter that’s rapidly losing altitude and crashes in the middle of a forest. Your radio is damaged; only being able to receive radio messages from a base a few miles away. A young radio operator — who can presumably see you via a drone or something — starts to issue instructions, guiding you around the zombies and towards various locations.
Voiceovers, collected items and background music while you run
Dynamic Voice Messages
In between instructions, the operator has a one way conversation with you revealing details about the situation they’re in, how previous runners have been killed and hints at a love story gone wrong prior to the game’s story line. I was afraid the voice acting would be forced and cheesy. It isn’t going to win academy nominations, but it sure gets blood pumping as the story line and the radio operator’s demands pick up pace.
Other characters, which live in the base you’re trying to reach in the first mission, occasionally speak to your over the radio revealing other plot lines and giving more information about the zombie virus outbreak.
Besides the radio sounds, there are some background noises that correlate to what’s happening in the game. For example, growling zombies behind you, the opening of a gate or the cheering of your fellow ‘survivors’ after your return to base following a successful mission.
There are different versions of the app with the original recommended for those used to running. However, for anyone doing the Internet famous ‘Couch to 5k’ program, the 5k challenge version is for you. It acts as a prequel to the main app getting you fit enough to tackle being a ‘runner’. You can see the missions menu along with the briefings of the 5k app below.
Missions and briefings
Besides from a riveting plot line, Zombies, Run! also has some useful features for joggers. Using GPS, it tracks your route and displays your pace and timing on the screen. The actual fitness features mimic that of any other fitness app but in a toned down way. This is primarily a simulation game. However, your progress files can be exported and are compatible with Runkeeper if you use that.
The majority of missions in the full version of the game follow the storyline of building up your base and figuring out what happened to land everyone in such a mess. The full version also has simple sprint missions which involve collecting items as quick as possible while avoiding zombies who sporadically attack. This is essentially circuit training which is a great workout for cutting fat and keeping mass.
The game aspect of Zombies Run is further expanded with the base builder. When you’re out on missions, you collect items such as ammunition, building materials, first aid kits and clothing for survivors. You can use these items to improve your base. Essentially this adds to the ‘survival’ feel of the game, but it’s also a cool informal way of tracking your progress through the missions. The base can be accessed from the app itself or online where various other social media aspects are added to share your base and progress on Facebook or Twitter.
Building up supplies bolsters Abel Township (your base)
The design on Zombies, Run! is simplistic and relies heavily on functionality. Essentially, the mission selector is nothing more than simple graphical cards enabling you to scroll through the missions. When running your time, pace and distance are all displayed on a simple black background along with mission progress.
The only aspect that looks in any way purposefully eye pleasing is the supplies menu offering an overview of Abel Township, your home base.
For most people, motivation and a lack of fun are the main reasons fitness regimes fail. Zombies, Run! isn’t going to do all the work for them, but it’s a lot more entertaining than nothing at all. When you’re actually out there on a cold night training, it’s easy to get sucked into the storyline and to push yourself far beyond the point at which you would have normally quit.
I definitely recommend Zombies, Run! because it’s a breath of fresh air in the a tired, overcrowded fitness genre and it actually works — both as an app and a fitness coach.