Game Review: Zombies, Run!

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Author: Ashlyn Sindal, September 2012

En route to Abel Township, one of the few human settlements left in the area, your helicopter is shot down over zombie-infested territory. With no notion of who shot you down or if they're coming after you, no way to contact the township for help, and mere moments before your position is overwhelmed by walking dead drawn to the sound of the crash, you do the only thing you can to stay alive: You run.

Zombies, Run! is an interactive, story-driven fitness app/game from Six to Start available for iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, and Windows smart phones. The zombie apocalypse has come, and what's left of humanity shelters in small, makeshift townships, living off of and defending themselves with whatever supplies they're able to scavenge. You are Runner 5, one of Abel's scavenging crew, dependent upon your speed to evade ravenous undead as you seek out supplies for the township and search for clues to the truth behind the zombie outbreak.

Game play is simple: put in your headphones, start the mission, and start running. As you run, you pick up supplies, which you can then use to build up your base. The story unfolds through dramatic audio scenes between songs from your own imported playlist. Optional “zombie chases” require you to pick up your pace to outrun approaching ghouls or risk being devoured. If you fail to outpace the zombies, you drop all of the supplies you've picked up during the mission.

When the creators of Zombies, Run! describe the game as “immersive,” it's no joke. With zombie moans becoming more and more distinct and Abel's communications team shouting at you to “Run! Just run!” through your headphones, it's easy to get wrapped up in the idea that you are, in fact, running from zombies. Stellar voice acting adds depth, and the slowly unraveling mystery surrounding the initial outbreak is engrossing enough to convince even a certifiable couch potato like yours truly to stick with a running routine.

The game currently consists of 23 story missions, the complete “first season” story arc, as well as an additional seven repeatable “supply run” missions. Six to Start has announced that they are working on a second season and they expect to be releasing a Beginner 5k add-on, complete with further story, later this year.

If you've ever wanted to save the world from zombies; if you like a well-woven narrative and a good mystery; if you like running or even ever thought you might want to start, then this game is for you.