Monster Mondays 1: Zombies, Run! App Overview (+Bonus)

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October is upon us! The steamy summer is settling into autumn: the weather is getting colder, the leaves are changing, and the most wonderful time of the year is just in sight. Halloween. What could be better than a holiday in which you are excused for bingeing on candy while dressed up as some cross between an anteater and a penguin? For one day a year, I can pass off my freakish disposition as a “costume” and be regarded as normal!

To coincide with this, we here at 9-2-5 will devote each Monday in the month of October to a new monster/game. “But…” I hear you say, “But you missed last week.” And that’s true, so to make that up we’ll be doubling up this week by talking about Robots and Zombies, specifically, the app “Zombies, Run!” on Android.

For most of us, running (and working out, in general) is a chore that we try to avoid at all costs. We find excuses to avoid the gym, we buy a membership and never use it, we even spend an inordinate amount of time

Missions

looking for a close parking spots so we don’t walk too far… to spend the next 45 minutes on a treadmill. It’s apparent that some incentive is needed to get us in gear. “Zombies, Run!” is an attempt to provide that incentive.

The app is, essentially, an (pseudo)interactive story in which, through your running you play a vital role in the plot. While running you collect items which can help your group survive the Zombie apocalypse and find out more about the reasons behind it. In addition, you are chased by zombies in sequences during which you have to sprint to outpace the hoard. If you fail to outrun them, some of the items you collected will be lost. This is the gamification of interval training, and it works! While using the app you don’t think about your overall goal (getting in shape), you instead think about the goals in the game (not getting eaten).

The Settlement

After you complete your run, the items you gain – and haven’t lost to zombies – can be allocated to different parts of the settlement. The system also links to a surprisingly advanced log on the web that provides you maps of your route and information regarding your speed as well as story synopses and the ability to share everything with Facebook. In short, if you look behind the façade of the game, there is a decent training tool in this.

While there are many great things to say about the app, there are still areas which can use improvement. As with most mobile applications, “Zombies, Run!” was originally designed as an iPhone app. The Android version is still missing many of the features of the iOS version, but the developer does seem to be making strides to bring both versions to the same level of functionality. There are also some parts of the online system which are a bit cryptic and are left unexplained in documentation. The user is left to figure out, for instance, what the graphs on the site are saying without any clear labels or instructions. It’s not a terribly big deal – you can figure it out – but it does tend to provide some awkwardness after the first few missions when you try to assess your performance.

Aside from those quibbles “Zombies, Run!” is a great way to augment what would otherwise be tedious exercise. An excellent story attached to a great concept for improving endurance await anyone brave enough to try.

BONUS ZOMBIE CONTENT – The Walking Dead

The next episode of Telltale Games’s adaptation of The Walking Dead comic book and TV series comes out tomorrow on PC/Steam, PS3 and XBox 360. The newest episode, titled “Around Every Corner”, is the penultimate part of the season. Look forward to an amazing story, tense choices and a cliffhanger which will make the wait until November’s finale just that little bit more difficult. The trailer is below. Enjoy!

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