Zombies, Run!


I started jogging late last year, and have been doing a fair job of sticking to a consistent running routine. But running for 30 or 40 minutes isn’t very mentally stimulating. This is doubly so when running on a treadmill, as I was pretty much forced to do during the cold winter months: nothing of real interest to look at save for the vapid talk shows on the gym’s television screens. Running outside at least lets me see something other than the static gym equipment surrounding me.

I tried listening to a variety of podcasts – including my favorites The Drabblecast and Escape Pod – but the pacing of too many of the stories just isn’t conducive to keeping me motivated to run. I have hours of music on my phone, and listening to that is about as good as I can get. Even still, I have to skip past tracks that are too slow, or that I’ve heard recently.

So when I learned about Zombies, Run! on Kickstarter, I decided almost immediately to become a financial backer of the game. The premise is simple: you’re running from zombies. That, in itself, probably doesn’t make a very good game so additional elements have been added. As you run you collect random items you’ll need back at camp. You can allocate how those goods are distributed in order to increase the size of your camp.

There’s a storyline that unfolds through character narrations as you run. Between these little vignettes your music plays, so that you’re not overwhelmed by story during your workouts. And there’s an option to enable random zombie chases that require you to run faster for a minute or more in order to escape the ravening dead.

I listened to the first mission this afternoon while walking the dog. The basic formula is dialogue, then a song from your selected playlist, then more dialogue. This repeats until you’ve heard all the elements of the mission. The first mission introduces a couple of principal characters, and gives you some basic motivation.

The format works fairly well, and the voice acting is better than I had expected. The mix of story and my music is just about right, as too much talking during my run would distract me and likely slow me down; but too little talking and it would take too long for the story to unfold.

It’s not bad at all. It’s an entirely passive “game’, as there is no real way to interact with it while I’m running (save for running faster to avoid a zombie chase, should I enable that option). The base building mechanic is interesting, and ostensibly unlocks additional missions. I’m not as interested in that aspect of the game, but I suspect it’ll be a mandatory component if I want to find out what’s happening. The storyline after the first mission does have me wanting to learn more, so I’m actually looking forward to my next run which is, after all, the reason I wanted to get something like Zombies, Run! to begin with!

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