I put my headphones in my ears, and hit the “Start Mission” button. The first thing I heard? The sound of helicopter rotors. Then a crisp British accent began to describe the scenery below. I was in the helicopter! Before I knew it, something terrible had happened — there might have been a rocket launcher involved — and then an urgent voice shouted:
There are 30, no 40… oh, crap!
Just run… RUN!
And so I did. I ran for 12 minutes before I took my first :30 walking break. That’s four times as long as I usually run without a walk… because I was being chased by zombies!
About the Game
Zombies, Run! is an app (for iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android) that combines your music with a brilliantly detailed story about a zombie infestation. It creates a running workout that effectively puts you in the middle of your own zombie movie. The game is broken up into “Missions” through which the story unfolds. I don’t want to give too much away, but my first mission, Jolly Alpha Five Niner, dropped me right into the middle of the action; soon, I was running for my life in an unfamiliar fictional landscape.
During the Mission, I collected supplies that will play into the story later. On my run-for-my-life this morning, I picked up 20 different items, including water, a radio, a jog bra, and an axe. I whooped out loud when I found the axe! The “game play” aspects of the app were designed with respect for an uninterrupted running experience. Game mechanics, like collecting items, happen automatically — but after my mad dash was over, I was able to go back into the app to see my list of treasures and to read the Codex, which explains each items’ significance and provides overviews of the characters introduced during my Mission.
I’ve completed only the first Mission so far, and I seriously considered a second run this afternoon, just so I can experience what happens next. The story is well-constructed, with plenty of suspense, a hint of forsaken romance, and vivid details that sucked me right into its fictional world. (Watch the video below to hear from the author of the story.) The actors strike just the right tone in their dialogue, and the sound effects are thrillingly realistic.
I ran through my neighborhood, and I swear the corner market instantly transformed into the hospital described in the story. When my shoelace came undone, I stopped and turned to face behind me while I re-tied, lest a zombie sneak up on me when I was defenseless. Sound effects are used for maximum impact. After I was dubbed “Runner Number 5” by my handler, I was dangerously close to being overtaken by a particularly fast zombie. I could hear her groans and growls in my left ear. I’m not ashamed to admit I looked over my shoulder a few times, just to be certain I wasn’t really being chased.
The segments of the story alternate with songs from a playlist you designate, so the length of the mission varies a bit, based on the length of the songs on your playlist. You might want to think twice about using that 10-minute remix! For myself, I’m re-working my standard running playlist to remove the sunny pop songs and to keep the driving metal, rock, and punk. (Somehow, Jennifer Lopez encouraging me to get on the floor doesn’t seem quite right under zombie-fleeing circumstances.) The interplay of action-packed story and my favorite songs was immersive and kept my mind off the fact that I was running pretty hard — but I wasn’t disconnected from my efforts, either. The storyline kept me motivated to move and to feel my lungs burning, my legs pumping — just like I would if I was really being chased by zombies. (Or so I imagine… I mean, I’ve never actually been chased my zombies, and I hope I never experience that particular thrill.)
Throughout the story, there are moments when things get a little tense, and the friendly voice of the handler turns sharp with a command to “Run! Run as fast as you can!” It was brilliant fun to have an external driver for sprint intervals, and the visualization of a eager-to-bite zombie on my heels helped me to sprint a little farther and a little harder than I would have on my own. I was running through my neighborhood, but the app would work equally well on trails, for a walk if running’s not your thing, on hilla/stairs, and even on a treadmill. You run at your own pace and the intervals can last as long (or as short) as you like — as long as you don’t mind being chomped by a zombie.
Buy It Now
Seriously. If you’re a runner, or you’ve flirted with the idea of adding runs into your training schedule… Hell, if you think you hate running… give this app a try. I guarantee you, it’s $7.00 well spent. You can buy it on the iTunes store. (Now seems like a good time to mention that I received a free review copy of Zombies, Run! But I’m not receiving any kind of incentive for encouraging you to buy it; Zombies, Run! is just so much fun, I want you to have it, too.)
More Zombie Stuff
Zombie Attack Preparedness (ZAP) Workout, starring Dave, my pals Blake & Weston, and me
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