Monday, March 5, 2012

"Zombies, Run!" iPhone Game Review

I'm trying to get back in shape.  I'm trying to stay motivated.  I'm trying not to hate running (a conclusion I inevitably come too).  I'm trying to get my lazy bones out on the streets.  And now, thanks to Zombies, Run!, I'm trying to save the world, and myself, from the Zombie Apocalypse. 
Here's what it says on their website:

I found out about this game a few weeks ago when I searched for running apps to help keep me motivated and track my runs.  I wasn't on the bandwagon soon enough to donate to their Kickstarter (which earned $60,127 over their $12,500 goal--amazing), but I did wait anxiously for the release.  The app (which is out on iphone and ipod touch, but not android) is $7.99--GASP!  Now, before you balk and write it off as the Cadillac of apps, just consider that the world of $.99 apps is dying, and we all knew they couldn't stay that cheap forever.  Its not really fair for the developers (in this case, independent developers, designers, writers, etc) to sell such a well-made, thoughtful, useful, creative, and fun product for nickels.  I took a leap of faith on the $8 price tag, and couldn't be more happy about it.  (Besides, $8 is less than the price of 2 trips to Starbucks.)

Here's how it works: You start the app, start your first "mission" and chose a playlist (which you make in iTunes).  The game begins with audio narratives that tell you who you are, what you're doing, and fills you in on a bit of the back story of the world you're about to enter.  The first song on your playlist starts, you run through it, and between songs you get another audio narrative.  While running, you "collect" supplies--a voice interjects "collected a first aid kit/overcoat/axe/etc")--that you use in the game after you're done running.  With every narrative, you get deeper into the world and the game--you meet people, learn about the geography, and you get chased by hordes of the undead.  Yes, occasionally, guttural gurgling and moaning will rise from the back of my earbuds, getting louder and louder as flesh devouring zombies lumber behind my pitter-pattering feet.  I was truly surprised at how effective that was to light a fire behind my tush!  It was pretty nerve wracking.  If you "outrun the zombies", meaning if you run 20% faster for 1 minute, you don't get your brains eaten.  If the zombies catch you, you lose all of the supplies you've gathered on your run.  Bummer, but your brains remain in tact.

Each mission (there are 13 in this first download, and 17 more promised in future updates) lasts about 25-ish minutes.  When you return to "base", you distribute the supplies you've collected to various parts of "Abel Township"--this place where you live with a small group of people struggling to survive amidst the "Zombs".  As you distribute the supplies, various parts of the town grow bigger, and can support more human life, which is the goal.

I finished my 3rd mission today.  I am not kidding when I say I wish I could have gone running twice today.  I finished my 40 minute run and wondered how long I should wait before I took off again.  I resisted, but THAT FACT THAT I HAD THAT THOUGHT proves that this app is amazing!

Here are some screen shots from today's run:

I've encountered some more interesting things about the world of Abel Township: twitter accounts, websites, and a few questionable characters.  Its like being a character in a novel!  The writing is excellent, the voice-over work is really compelling, and the mix and sound effects are great--all of these elements work smartly together to create a very engaging story.  That engagement gets me RUNNING! I even woke up early to run today, something I haven't done in over 8 years.  Wow.

I'm also really excited for the forthcoming updates.  Bugs will be fixed and features added, as well as extensions of the story. 

To keep track of all of my essential running stats, I use Runmeter in the background.  It sucks away my battery, as both apps use GPS.  Future updates of Zombies, Run! will integrate stats like distance, time, pace, calories burned, etc.  For now, Runmeter is great for me.

I am a total nerd for this game.  I hope they create other seasons and stories, because at this rate, I will definitely reach my fitness goals for the year.  And as my body gets stronger, I am surely going to outrun the zombies.  Win/win!

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