Sunday, 11 March 2012
Zombies, Run! iPhone app - you've got red on you
I run. At best, it’s a chore. At worst, a bore; a necessary and thankless task which gets in the way of much more entertaining pursuits. Like cake. Still, Much Smarter People have explained that exercise is good for me and I’ve been advised that a regular jog will help stave off heart disease, obesity and that rattling sound which starts up in my chest after a few flights of stairs.
Previously, I’ve used the Nike+ app to keep track of my meager progress; a swish, if slightly soulless programme which charts your run via GPS. It’s efficient, intuitive and, if you’re a serious runner, a comprehensive bit of kit. But it’s no fun. Or, at least, not as much fun as being chased down the street by a mob of shambling zombies.
Zombies, Run! is an app for the iPhone which provides a more interactive experience while you run; a piece of software which offers an innovative blend of exercise and storytelling.
It’s the end of the world. Zombies have run riot and humanity hangs on a thread. You’re no longer running for your health or well-being. You’re running because it’s your job to keep people alive.
The app sees you play the part of Runner Five, a member of a small colony clinging onto existence by its fingertips. Like other apps on the market, you load Zombies, Run! as soon as you take your first steps out into the cold. That’s pretty much where the similarities with other running apps end.
Each bout of exercise takes the form of a ‘mission’, a story which plays out while you jog. The tale progresses via dialogue from the various characters in this dystopian world; a nervous radio operator in the settlement, fellow runners and other survivors you find along the way. There’s a clip from one of the earlier missions embedded below.
Each episode sets you up with a premise (collect supplies, rescue a stranded child, lead away a pack of zombies) and clips progressing the narrative slip in between your traditional running playlist. Each mission last around 20 minutes and, occasionally, you’ll be asked to pick up the pace as a zombie stumbles into your path. As a motivational tool, running for your virtual life is without par.
But, in order to progress the narrative you'll have to go out running again. And you’ll want to. Unlike other apps, Zombies, Run! gives you a tangible reward for your lap of the block; the story progresses, characters reveal their motives, a shady conspiracy is revealed. It’s a unique way to get you back into your running trainers.
Of course, it’s not the only app on the market to dish out rewards for a successful burst of speed. The aforementioned Nike+ is a solid piece of work which has some nice social media integration (including Path) and also includes motivational audio clips from the likes of Lance Armstrong and Paula Radcliffe. Get Running and the British Military Fitness App also provide the same feature, albeit without the celebrity cameos.
Still, what makes Zombies, Run! interesting is that it rewards you in a different way. Rather than just giving you a pat on the back at the end of a jog, the app provides you a real incentive to get back onto the streets. It’s a testament to the strength of the story and the textured characters that you’ll want to continue exercising just to hear the next chapter in the tale.
They're coming to get you Barbara.