Feet on with “Zombies, Run!” App Turns Your Morning Jog Into a Game

Anyone who’s watched “Zombieland” or any of the more recent flicks starring the undead knows the importance of cardiovascular excercise. But, prior to the apocalypse itself, how does one adequately instill the appropriate level of fear when training?

“Zombies, Run!” could be just the ticket. Created by Six to Start and Naomi Alderman, this $7.99 Kickstarter-funded app for Android and iOS gets your heart rate up by having you run away from the living dead. But how well does it work? We took the app for a run along the Embarcadero in San Francisco–zombie-free since 1906–to find out.

After a lengthy introduction–you start off in a helicopter that gets shot down over zombie-infested lands–you assume the role of Runner 5, who must make it back to Abel Township (population: living), and complete other missions along the way for those guiding you in by radio. In between directives from base, the app plays your music, and can pull in iTunes playlists, which we liked. 

The dialogue leans towards the melodramatic–one of the characters laments the fact that the woman he loved–a previous runner–is now a zombie. It’s quite amusing, but if you’re trying to concentrate on maintaining a certain pace, can get distracting. The overall despondency of the survivors is a bit of a downer, too. 

At certain points, you’re encouraged to run harder, as the sound of brain-munchers gets louder and louder. A robotic voice announces items you collect along the way, such as batteries and first aid kits. (Somehow, I managed to collect four sports bras during the first mission.) Then, using the app, you distribute the items to the various areas in the base (hospital, armory, recreation, comms, etc.) to raise their levels, and unlocking more missions.  

Season 1 (which you get with the original download) includes 30 missions. The faster you run, the quicker you complete the missions, so more dedicated exercisers could finish the game fairly quickly. However, the company says it will release add-ons over time, and it also says it’s planning to integrate the app with Runkeeper, as well as record your pace, distance, time, and calories burned. 

Those oiling their shotguns in preparation for the real-life “Walking Dead” will want to check out “Zombies, Run!” At $7.99, it’s a little steep for a training app that doesn’t record vital statistics, but it could be a real bargain if adding a story line to your workout helps keep you motivated. And alive.

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