I’ve been running for a few years, on and off and I have only used the ubiquitous Couch-to-5K app to keep track of my runs. But when I heard about Zombies, Run! last year, I knew I had to have it. (Not to be confused with “Run for your lives!” a series of 5K obstacle races where people in zombie costumes chase runners.) It’s currently available for the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.
The way that it works is simple. You turn on the app, select a mission, and start running (or walking, skating, cycling, elliptical-ing, whatever). Each mission is an episode in the story, and separated into several 2 – 3 minute segments which play in between songs on your playlist. Additionally, while you are listening to your music, you will occasionally hear a voice over telling you that you have collected supplies. If you have GPS turned on, you will get voice overs telling you that zombies are chasing you and you have to increase your speed. If you don’t sprint far or fast enough, you lose all the supplies you are carrying. At the end of each mission you can use your supplies to further build Able Township – the base where your character lives in a mini-Sim City-esque game.
There are story missions, which advance the plot, and supply missions where not much happens but are good for collecting supplies. At the end of either kind of mission, if you keep the app on, you will hear brief segments of a radio show broadcast by characters who live in Able Township.
I am so surprised at how wrapped up I have gotten in the story and how attached I am to the characters. I feel like it’s a tv show or book series I have been a fan of for a long time. I highly recommend this app. Wanting to know what happens next will encourage you to work out more often. People have complained about the price ($8 for iPhone). It’s not more than the price of a movie ticket, new book, or more traditional video game, and you will get a lot of entertainment for your money. There are 30 missions plus radio content and the mini-city building game, also an extensive glossary and character guide that expands as the plot advances in case you want to refresh your memory if you haven’t worked out in a while.
The story is told in the second person perspective, and the listener is referred to as “Runner 5.” The creators have done an excellent job of immersing the listener into the story seamlessly. The plot begins when your helicopter crashes outside Able Township, and you join up with the people who live there, running missions to support operations of the base. But you soon discover that there’s a lot more going on than just survival. The characters are vibrant, and the voice acting is superb. I may or may not have been wiping more than sweat out of my eyes on a few occasions. The quality of the radio drama combined with the adrenaline rush of going for a run create a fantastic experience.