Off the Couch and Into the Apocalypse

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Today I ran from zombies for nearly 3 km. This wasn't in DayZ of Left 4 Dead, this was real running from make believe zombies. My wife and I picked Zombies, Run! a couple days ago, and so far we are really enjoying it. Three days ago, I would have laughed at the idea of going for a run. It's never been something I could motivate myself to do. Any time I tried, I came home with a twisted ankle, cramps and a burning chest. Now I finish with a bunch of supplies for my beleaguered base and the pride of having evaded packs of the undead.

It's really surprised me what a kick in the ass a good story can be. The story for Zombies, Run! is particularly good though. You are cast as Runner 5 in Abel Township. Your tasks vary from running for supplies, to distracting the horde while the base gets maintenance work done. You'll hear the entire story unfold between songs through your headphones. As you run you'll randomly pick up supplies that are used as resources for your base. Today I picked up some antibiotics, a few trousers and a bunch of mobile phones.

The app can track your pace in a couple ways, by accelerometer or GPS. Using the accelerometer, the app will keep track of how many steps you've taken, while the GPS will give you actual distance traveled. The game keeps track of your pace as you go and occasionally will force you to speed up by warning you that zombies are on your tail. It sounds corny until you hear the groans getting louder in your ears. It got me moving for longer bursts than I thought I could manage, and I can't help but be impressed by that.

The app currently has 2 seasons of story content to enjoy. hats more than enough to fill weeks of running for most folks. Even when those are finished, there is still a lot of content. Zombies, Run! has multiple modes including races, a casual radio mode for listening to your music and an airdrop mode that custom builds a mission around a route you pick on your map.

When you aren't running, the supplies you've gathered can be used to upgrade your township. You can add buildings or upgrade existing ones to improve the townships morale, defense and population. So, far it hasn't served much purpose to the story, but it's a fun little side game that gives purpose to the things I collects on my runs.

Linking your game to the game's website opens up a wealth of tracking options. If you use your GPS on your runs, it will show you where you sped up, slowed down, and when you were being chased. It will keep track of your average pace and compare each block of your runs to your average, so you can see if you're having an off day or if you need to rework your route.

Fitness apps are all over the place. Until now, I've found it difficult to stick to any of them. But having an actual plot to follow and objectives to complete has, so far, turned something I would never do voluntarily into something I look forward to each day. If you're at all interested in a zombie game that aims to get you into better shape, I couldn't recommend Zombies, Run! more. It's available now for iOS and Android.