…Unless You Reanimate Hardcore
Zombie Apocalypse Run, developed and published by Antoine Cotton, comes off as George Romero’s Subway Surfers: a zombie-themed take on the runner genre. Or at least it does so initially. Closer scrutiny reveals that it strays from some of the key aspects of its endless runner brethren. Deviations that do not serve the game’s ability to engage hardcore players. Essentially, while Zombie Apocalypse Run certainly has its merits, said deviations seriously detract from its playability.
An Undead 5K
Zombie Apocalypse Runner places you amidst a Zombie Apocalypse. The story is virtually nonexistent but based on the protagonist’s acrobatic procession through each level and his aversion to zombies, we can surmise that he is a shrewd and nimble survivor, perhaps one of the last of the human race. Maybe he is even blitzing back from a supply run carried out in a heavily zombie populated town, akin to Glen or Daryl from The Walking Dead. It’s up for debate really. Crossing 100 zombie-infested, fire and electrical hazard-ridden levels is his end goal regardless of his motivation. In other words, unlike Subway Surfers and Temple Run, this game is not an endless runner.
To produce a palatable playing experience, a runner need not be endless. However, the way in which Zombie Apocalypse Runner executes the leveled playstyle makes for a limiting experience. The first level introduces the player to the mechanics of the game: your character runs, jumps, vaults and shoots zombies automatically. The player controls only one aspect of his action, his side-to-side to side movement. Although casual players might enjoy this cursory and minimalist playstyle, hardcore gamers are sure to take umbrage with it.
Killing Them Monotonously
Three sections make up each level. Completing the first two will grant you upgrades and completing the final will move you to the next level. The upgrade system is initially an interesting addition. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that some upgrades are far more useful for withstanding a zombie brigade than others. The immunity to fire and to shock damage are easily the two most inconsequential of the bunch. It is never difficult to maneuver yourself around these dangers. Conversely, upgrades that affect your gun’s output (explosive ammo, ricochet bullets, etc.) and capacity are highly efficacious in clearing zombies from your path and ensure an easier road to the end level.
One of Zombie Apocalypse Run’s biggest flaws is how repetitive the gameplay gets, even for a runner. A big reason endless runners amass so many downloads is because they can be addictive. Developers understand the way high scores work and how players enjoy setting them and then breaking them repeatedly. For a finitely-leveled runner to remain fresh, the progression needs to be enhanced as well as the difficulty. Zombie Apocalypse Run fails to do so in any meaningful way. The maps only become marginally more difficult and complex. Navigation without any upgrades is entirely feasible. What’s more, your arsenal of upgrades is completely fixed. Even the maps’ scenery cycles between three different styles: morning, afternoon and night. Ultimately, Zombie Apocalypse Run strays away from the formulaic runner approach but is painfully basic and perfunctory with too few assets to offset its faults.
Is It Hardcore?
For about 10 Minutes
It’s wishy-washy playstyle and fixed level count makes it beatable only through a plethora of lobby and train station waits.