Review of Zombies! Run

Zombies Run is an Alternate Reality Game that works on your iPhone (soon available for Android) to deliver story where you are the star of the show WHILE YOU ARE PHYSICALLY RUNNING.

An Alternate Reality Game is one that uses the real world as its field of play.

The Premise is Brilliant: The world is in a Zombie Apocalypse. The Internet and phone systems are toast. To get ANYTHING DONE,  you need Old World runners like in the days of the Greek and Roman Empires to deliver orders, do recon, find supplies etc. Runners are the lifeblood of the walled off cities that are fighting off the zombie hoards while rebuilding civilization. This story telling technique makes the game believable.

And lucky for you, there’s an opening for runner #5. The last one got bit by a Zom and is running around out there with her right eyeball hanging out and half a boob missing.

But we’re not totally in the past. We still have radios, surveillance cams, radar and spotters. So as you run, you receive intel from your operator Sam via headset about whats around you. You can also hear what other runners say to you. And as you run … the story unfolds.

The story is written so that you can run anywhere you want to and it still make sense and amazingly enough EVERY solution to EVERY problem requires a desperate need for you to run.

In spite of spouts of GOD AWFUL voice acting in the second half, I liked Zombies! Run and am a raving fan.

It’s kind of like Doctor Who – fans love it AND hate it at the same time.

It literally turned me back into a runner. Every day I wanted to see “What’s in store for me today? Let’s kick some Zombie ASS!”

The weird thing was that it started off so good, and then slowly descended into bouts of awful. I literally was laughing out loud at how cool it was when I first went running. Still, if a new set of episodes appear I’m all over them.

But at the end of the series I was rooting for the Zombies to bite Runner 3 and 4 because the acting is not even high-school par.

Lucky for us, the guy playing Sam, the main contact is AWESOME.

The best thing about Zombies Run  is that it pushes ARGs closer to mainstream and joins the ranks of other successful ARG works like “Cathy’s Book” and “The Lost Ring.”

THINGS THAT DISAPPOINTED: I think it was a lack of resources, but the “Hidden Story” didn’t pan out so well for me (maybe I missed a clue or something. I’ll have to go back and try again). I was able to unlock some emails and a twitter account, but the “game behind the game” seemed too elusive and came to a dead end fast for me. I honestly think that they should have forgotten the whole Farmville “Abel Township” thing and just invested in content outside the phone and used the things you gather to push you to web content. For example, you pick up dozens of copies of “The Kensaido Manefesto” and there is no copy that you can actually READ.

…(yet)…

Regardless, the genius of this game is that it opens a whole new genre as predicted by the gaming goddess Jane McGonigal where games are unlocking a better world. And the company Six to Start is creating new content. There is now a runner’s guide and they just released the second round of episodes.

With an idea this awesome, I’m with them for the long haul. But I’ve done all the episodes twice now and am bored. Still … I can’t wait for new episodes to hear that magic phrase …

SAM: “RAISE THE GATES!”

And if you hear a voice in the park whispering “Die Runner 3 DIE!” you’ll know it’s me rooting for the Zombies.

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