I’ve written about zombie runs before, but Zombies, Run! 2 is a bit different. You may have heard of it; Zombies, Run! was a hugely successful Kickstarter project that proposed a mobile app that would inspire fitness by dropping you into the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Your options? Run, or die. Dear readers, I put my life on the line for you on this one. I went out into the cold, dark mid-October night last night after midnight to really put this app to the test. I survived a helicopter crash. I risked life and limb to gather critical supplies. I raced to escape zombie hordes. The results were chillingly good.
The app is a sort of audio book with extras. The “missions” are audio clips that are played for you at roughly preset time intervals. Between clips, the app can make use of playlists you’ve created to play your own music for you. (Sorry, ONLY playlists are supported, and only of local music; no Pandora or Spotify here.) The length of the songs played can have an impact on the length of a mission, though it will pause longer tracks to cut in with mission updates, if necessary. As it’s playing your music, it will periodically fade the music out to let you know you’ve collected various key items. These will be vital supplies like food, medicine and underwear, as well as mission-specific objects.
All of this plays out as you’re out on your run/jog/walk; this main part of the game is largely non-interactive. There IS a more challenging mode that includes “zombie chases” which I have not tried, as I don’t want to kill myself. In a zombie chase, the app tracks how quickly you’re moving, and challenges you to outrun the zombies. Successes and failures are tracked. I’ll need to go through a few more missions before I feel ready to give these a try! If you don’t feel like doing a mission, or if you’re out longer than a mission lasts, the app has a radio mode that intersperses your music with recorded DJ segments from “Radio Abel.”
Your progress can be tracked online via Zombielink, which lets you share your run logs (including music playlists) and route maps with friends, if you want. You can also build up your personal version of Abel Township, your home base in the apocalypse. Your base is built up in a sort of side mini-game by spending all those supplies you gathered while out on your runs.
The app can work in two different ways; it can track your movement via GPS or via accelerometer. If you use GPS tracking on an outdoor route, the ZombieLink stats will include a map of your route with a linear display of your speed at every point along it. The accelerometer option allows you to use the app if you’re on an indoor track or on a treadmill.
The only thing about the app that gave me any trouble was Android playlist support. I ran the app on my 2013 Nexus 7 tablet, and found that while they are trying to support as many music players’ playlists as they can, they haven’t yet added support for the default Google music player on that tablet. I downloaded the free version of Winamp for Android, created a playlist in that, and all was golden; it worked great.
Zombies, Run! 2 is available for $3.99 on iOS and Android, and the original Zombies, Run! is available for $1.99 on Windows Phone in their respective app stores.