Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! is a exquisitely fun and hugely original fitness app. It’s essentially a running game supported by an audio adventure, which itself comes across a little like a radio play. All you have to do is put your earphones in and go for a run. The story unravels as you progress and the audio elements play in between your own music playlist.

If you’ve used apps like Runkeeper or Couch-to-5K, Zombies, Run! offers a very cool twist.

Introduction

Zombies, Run! blends fitness app with audio story in an refreshing and novel way that genuinely encourages you to get out there and run, even if you’re a little exercise-shy. Don’t mistake this for the similarly titled augmented reality app Zombie, Run! (NOT plural) – it’s entirely different, and I’ll explain how a bit later. Launched quite recently after successful Kickstarter funding, Zombies, Run! is original, different and exciting. Check out the developers’ and author’s video:

I do not want provide any real spoilers, but you begin by surviving a helicopter crash a little way out from the safe haven of Abel. Your first job is to scavenge in a hospital on your way to the township. The app is incredibly clever here in that it proposes that comms are only one-way, so you can hear them, but they cannot hear you. It’s little touches like this that makes the game so immersive and engrossing.

Abel Township, Home

Abel Township, Home

The App Itself

Getting away from the how you engage with Zombies, Run! — which is essentially listening to the audio story while running — the app itself is relatively simple. You see five tabs along the top of the screen.

Home is the entrance to the next mission. Missions shows you which missions are available to you; after running the first you unlock more and so on. Supplies shows you a map of the township with different locations: hospital, food, comms, housing, recreation, quad and armoury. When you run, you collect supplies for each of these and it is on this screen where you can place your finds.

In-app map where you can place your finds.

In-app map where you can place your finds.

Then you have the Codex. This is essentially an encyclopedia of the app, with people, places, supplies and special items all explained in detail. Finally there’s the Settings menu which lets you alter your preferences, view credits, check out the tutorial and also sync with ZombieLink (a detailed and smooth online space to log your runs, see how many calories you have burned and view your supplies).

Codex

Codex

The Ultimate Setting

Zombies, Run! has a genuinely chilling setting which you are recommended to enable at your own risk! ‘Zombie Chases’ implements moaning swarms of hungry zombies to each run, meaning there will be times when you really have to run, and fast, in order to escape.

Want to be chased by zombies? At your own risk...

Want to be chased by zombies? At your own risk…

It’s perhaps this that makes the app suitable for both beginners trying to get fit and experienced runners who want something a little different. If you’re confident enough, add this setting and see if you survive – it certainly adds a sense of genuine jeopardy to your experience!

Other Zombie Apps

Zombies, and apps that feature them, continue to be popular in the Google Play Store, from the entertaining and addictive titles such as Zombie Cafe, to the genuinely chilling games like Dead Trigger. A number of months ago we posted a round up of 15 Essential Apps to Help You Survive a Zombie Apocalypse, and if it had been released at the time, Zombies, Run! would have been a brilliant inclusion as a form of test run for the real thing.

Aspects of your run are logged as you progress.

Aspects of your run are logged as you progress.

In its place was Zombie, Run!, perhaps the only other app which pits you to escape from zombies in real time action. You view your mobile device as a map, with augmented reality zombies dotted around your location which you have to avoid. However, it is an altogether different and less immersive experience to Zombies, Run! which, thanks to the brilliantly performed voice acting and thrilling storylines, is far more engaging.

In fact, the closest you might get to Zombies, Run! is either something like activities like Run for Your Lives or, well, an actual zombie apocalypse!

Tutorial

Tutorial

The other kind of app you might be able to liken this to is the more dedicated fitness app with audio support. Several C25K (couch to five kilometres) apps provide this, such as this one, as do some popular fitness apps like Runkeeper. However, the audio element in Zombies, Run! is second to none in terms of motivating. Which is going to incentivise you more; “Keep going, you’re doing great!” or “Don’t stop now, there’s a horde of zombies right behind you!”?

Woah, How Much?!

You’ve just seen the price huh? Yeah, it’s not cheap and I could imagine that putting people off. However, if you’re looking at this for fitness reasons, there’s a good chance that apps you have tried aren’t quite cutting the mustard. Zombies, Run! is really involving and immersive — and, most of all, it keeps you wanting more. In addition to the app you also have access to the gorgeously rich website interface which marks your runs like nothing else.

Mission Complete

Mission Complete

Your runs are logged along with the distance you ran, duration, average speed, average pace and the number of calories you burned. There is also a running log of your interactions with characters, music you played and your response to that music (maybe helping you identify tracks which push you better). The site is hugely interactive with timeline, activity graph and the ability to share your runs. On that basis, I genuinely think the high price is worth it.

Conclusion

Zombies, Run! has been written in association with author Naomi Alderman so it’s no shambled together yarn either. The narrative is intriguing, fun and very different. There’s something incredibly rewarding about outrunning zombies and the app makes this a very realistic experience. From the moans and groans emanating from zombie horde to the Comms guy suggesting you ‘don’t look back’, it’s like you’re right there in the midst of the action.

This is an audio book, an adventure, a fitness app and mystery all rolled into one. The impressively rich web experience is also fantastic, making the service feel a lot more professional and authentic. The app isn’t cheap by any means but you get what you pay for.

Maybe you’re feeling inspired to get fit due to the Olympic coverage, or perhaps other apps have not motivated you as much as you need. Regardless of how you’ve come to discover Zombies, Run!, you’ll find it to be utterly engaging, motivating, scary and above all, fun. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to get fit or wanting to try something different.


Summary

Zombies, Run! melds a fitness app with an audio adventure to create a highly motivating and fun exercise solution. The app and supporting website are extremely polished and user-friendly, making the app's high price worth paying.

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