All images in this post are credited to the official Zombies, Run!
I love apps. They’re what make smartphones feel so… smart. I also love to run. Running is one of my many hobbies and my preferred form of exercise. Naturally, when I found out about the Zombies, Run! app by developer Six to Start, I had to try it.
More Than Just Another Running App
Zombies, Run! isn’t just a running app. It’s a game. The point of that game is simple: you complete missions while running, walking, jogging, or cycling anywhere in the world. You’ll be directed in your headphones what your mission is as the story unfolds.
The app won’t force you to change your real-world route. As you run, you automatically collect supplies that you can use to power up your base. Why does your base need supplies? Because you’re in a world gripped by the zombie apocalypse of course!
While there are no shortage of things you can do to make your run less boring, Zombies, Run! is a bit unique. Boasting a storyline written by award-winning novelists and sci-fi writers, the missions are riveting, yet suitable for people of any fitness level.
Zombies, Run! makes you the hero of a torn new world and might just be that edge you need to go out and run so you can get to the next part of the story. The chases feature is the most exciting (and creepy) – when your hear zombies groaning, you’d better speed up. If you don’t go fast enough, you’ll lose some of the supplies you’ve picked up along the way.
Zombies, Run! – The Primary App Features
Zombies, Run! gives you plenty of flexibility. You can follow the story and its hundreds of story missions or you can do simple endless runs that collect supplies as you go. Each mission has a time set for that section of the story which you can edit to shorter or longer depending on your fitness level.
You can also change the mission timer to base on distance if you’re using the tracking feature. Speaking of which, the tracking feature can be turned completely off or set to GPS, step count, or assume a constant pace.
I was pleasantly surprised that on my iPhone 7, I was able to use GPS tracking on both my Zombies, Run! and my Endomondo fitness app simultaneously. You can also sync your missions to various health apps on iOS including the native health app.
The app has a built-in music feature but it can also use your phone’s native music player. It works equally well with the Pandora Radio app. One of the nice things about the music feature is that Zombies, Run! automatically lowers the music volume when the storyline proceeds so you can clearly hear what’s going on. Once the storyline breaks, the music volume comes back up.
The storylines run for 1-2 minutes and break for about 4-5 minutes before the next segment kicks off. This timing adjusts if you alter the default length of the mission.
In addition to the storyline and supply run missions, Zombies, Run! also sports training plans for typical race distances such as 5k, 10k, & half marathons. You also have the option of some paid membership plans that give you access to Interval Training mode and a very cool mode called Airdrop which lets you pick a real-world location as your destination to pick up a supply drop.
What Worked & What Didn’t Work
The good stuff…
As I mentioned earlier, I was very happy with that app is able to use GPS simultaneously with my Endomondo fitness app. I’ve been tracking my runs in that app for years and it’s nice to use something else and still have it recorded in Endomondo.
I was also impressed with the story delivery in terms of audio. The writers make great use of the left and right audio channels in your headphones. The sounds effects and voices have been painstakingly mixed to make it feel like you’re really in this zombie apocalypse world with danger all around you.
The not so good stuff…
If you’re using the app and you get a phone call, the mission will pause automatically. Unfortunately, once you hang up or reject the call, the app doesn’t automatically start back up. If you’re using the app in the background, you might not realize it stopped until you go running another 10 minutes and notice that the storyline hasn’t come back.
The other issue I encountered was when the storyline interjects during your run, it automatically pushes the music down in the volume mix. In audio terms, this is called ‘ducking’. Essentially one sound source ducks out of the way of another that takes priority.
I like this feature a lot and it seems to work most of the time. I did notice, however, that if you get a notification during the storyline such as a text message, etc… the music doesn’t come out of its ducked state when that section of storyline ends. On my iPhone earphones, I just hit the middle button to pause the music momentarily and then again to resume the music and that gets the volume all reset. It’s only fair to say that I’ve had this issue with other apps that use audio ducking as well so this could just be an iOS problem vs. something in Zombies, Run!
Free to Play
Most of the basic features in the Zombies, Run! app are free. It’s definitely worth a try if I’ve peaked your interest.
I will say for sure though I think their pro membership is a bit on the high side at $2.99/mo. or $19.99/yr. Yes, I know how much R&D costs and I’ve dumped more than that into a Dave & Busters coin game in under 3 minutes, but considering the very specific nature of Zombies, Run! I happen to think it’s a bit on the expensive side.
Want more creepy? Check out the official trailer below…
Sharif Jameel is a business owner, IT professional, runner, & musician. His professional certifications include CASP, Sec+, Net+, MCSA, & ITIL and others. He's also the guitar player for the Baltimore-based cover band, Liquifaction.