Zombies, Run! is a different sort of zombie game. The kind where you have to run. No, not the virtual you – 6’8″ tall, 300 pounds of pure athletic capability. But the other you. Probably closer to 110 pound weakling or perhaps considerably more pear-shaped than the linebacker of your dreams. And certainly the kind of guy who might not survive the apocalypse if it happened today. You’re the target – both for the company making the game, and the zombies who star in it.
Zombies Run has been an interesting story to follow already. It was a Kickstarter project – one where fans pledge to pay funds toward a project upon its completion, in order to provide a ready revenue stream upon the release of the product. This one is from Six to Start and Naomi Alderman. And it got thousands of people involved up front – who not only contributed to the development of the game (mostly via voice over groans for the zombies) but of course helped to make it happen in the first place by pledging to buy it when it released.
The premise of this game is that you must play by actually moving, similar in concept to the Nintendo Wii, Xbox Kinect, or PlayStation Move. The difference is this game won’t be taking place in your family room, unless you happen to have your treadmill there.
The game functions by monitoring your speed and direction (but not location) via GPS. Alternatively, if you elect not to use the GPS, it can use the accelerometer built into the iPhone. Either way, it is detecting strides/pacing or actual spatial movement. This powers the mechanics of the game.
So I got my copy of Zombies Run, and decided to check it out that evening. I’m a big fan of zombies, as you might tell by the name of this site, and I’m also a big believer in being prepared for just about anything. So, I thought it was time to put my own non-virtual assets into gear and make sure that was ready to rock and roll as well.
I waited until it was dark outside, to add to the spooky factor. It worked.
The game story begins with a news crew covering the apocalypse who can see where you are. They’re trying to help you, a stranded survivor, get out of where you’re at by giving you directions over the radio. Apparently this part of the city is even worse than what Chris Rock said about Martin Luther King Boulevard. If you’re there, RUN!
The game play is straight forward and simple – run. No button pushing, or even looking at your display while you are moving, at all. No need to stop and interact with the phone. Focus on moving. And, you really don’t need to alter your routine, much. You’ll automatically acquire supplies you “find” along the way, and they’re tucked away safely until you decide to park your winded butt down and put them away proper.
Basically, it seems to work well in a relative fashion to whatever speed you start with. There are parts where you are actively motivated to MOVE FASTER. But, if you began at a snail’s pace (very slow walk, for instance) you only have to “increase” a little bit in order to successfully engage in the “evade” parts of the missions you’re on. The very first mission you’re on, you’ll find yourself up against a zombified runner. She was your predecessor. So, the expectation is you’ve got somebody who was FAST behind you. She may have lost her mind as a zombie, but not her physique & athleticism. Complete with sound effects of a zombie getting closer, you are incentivized to move.
I picked up all sorts of “valuable supplies” for the survivor camp. Finding underwear was the one I remember most (can never have too many of those post-apocalypse!) but various kinds of clothing, medical supplies, and other sundries bits of wire, electronics, and more were there. I don’t remember any weapons, but I’m just starting out, you see. Each has a use back at the survivor camp, and you get to assign which items are provided to which building types. Advancing each one will presumably have a different impact. Places like the Armory, Housing, Recreation, Communications, etc all are competing for the resources you bring back – you have to decide who gets what.
After the mission ends, the game lets you Tweet your progress. Unfortunately, I didn’t Tweet at the time, and there’s no Tweet Later type access. The mission ending part passed pretty quickly, and it’s possible I just passed things over too fast. But I would appreciate an exportable run log function there, as well. Distance, time, zombies evaded, supplies collected, other survivors I outran – they’re displayed, but I don’t think you can auto-tweet it. And there’s no Facebook support yet.
Now remember, I did all this at night. Half the streetlights in my neighborhood were out (cool!) and it was just late enough that pretty much everyone on the block had the lights on their house out, too. It definitely added to the spooky factor. My daughter wanted to come with me, so we got to outrun the zombies together. Nothing like a dose of reality to add to the realism. hahaha. We headed out of our subdivision a way I hadn’t gone before. So it was partially uncharted territory.
Outside of the subdivision, there was a middle school. The track & field lights were on, but you couldn’t see really from the street, because the building is in the way. Eerily, only a handful of cars were in the parking lot that night. But, we heard all sorts of screaming going on. I hadn’t been there before, and wanted to explore. My little girl and I did the totally wrong thing – we checked out all the noise! Turns out it was a bunch of 6th-8th grade girls doing 300m hurdles. Funny, the sound from all that from the other side of the school was far more like zombie-induced pandemonium. Complete with sporadic (starter pistol) gunfire, followed by even more intense yelling. Yes, I have to say it was pretty cool.
After booking it off the school grounds, next door is the school district’s school bus depot. Lines and lines of vacant, never-to-be-filled-again buses, and plenty of diesel fuel somewhere, I thought. Freakin dark, too – the pic I have here feels like golden sunshine, by comparison. I would have to investigate that one in daylight. If I am going to have to outrun the zombie horde, I want to at least not be spooked senseless by the flipping buses for Pete’s sake.
The good thing is I didn’t kill myself on the run. No wrenched ankle that allows the zombie horde to feed. And I didn’t inadvertently run down a dead end street, either. There was one shortcut in the neighborhood I hadn’t seen before, cutting between a few houses that was filled with all sorts of hiding spots for zombies. Very creepy.
But, the really good news is my daughter kept up the whole way, and she’s not even ten yet. She’ll do well in the apocalypse. And I still have a bunch more missions to write our post-apocalyptic auto-biography with.