Zombies Run is unlike anything I've ever reviewed here before. Mostly because it's a running app.
Or, as I like to think, an interactive story that also gets you to run. Thinking of it that way has been tricking me into exercising for several weeks, at least.
The "game" is set about six months after the zombie apocalypse. You're one of the survivors, and you find yourself in Abel Township, a fairly large settlement that is struggling to fight off the zombies, avoid attacks from the increasingly vicious New Canton settlement, and generally stay alive. But no-one gets a free ride here: the old "Runner 5" recently died, so you're going to have to take her place, running outside of Abel's safe(ish) walls to gather supplies, deliver messages and generally be a helpful soul.
And it's awesome.
In Zombies Run 5k, which I'm currently limping my way through, you're a newbie runner getting trained in the fine art of fleeing from zombies by the Doc, Maxine Myers, and adorable radio operator Sam Yao. I don't know enough about exercise to say whether it's good at this, but I've gone from barely being able to run 15 seconds to running for 10 minutes straight in five weeks, so it must be decent at least! The main app, Zombies Run, has you as a fully-trained runner, going on missions and fleeing from zombies, as the real story and drama unfolds.
One really striking thing about the story is that the creators have really made an effort to create a vibrant and diverse cast of characters, despite the fact that we never see them. We not only have both male and female zombie runners and base officials (and zombies!), but characters of many different ethnicities, sexualities and backgrounds, from Doctor Maxine, who's still grieving over the death of her girlfriend, to that guy Rajit who's in charge of the dorms and just really wants to find someone willing to read his novel.
And despite the fact that they're only voices in your ear, you really start to care about these characters. They make you laugh (even as you're in running-related agony), you might cry over them, and when some of them inevitably die, I will be more than a little heartbroken.
In the end, it's just an incredibly compelling world, where you get to play a part. And it's you, physically you (and your imagination), not some avatar you created. Kinect, eat your heart out.
So if you're a reluctant runner, like me, or just want some great zombie-apocalypse tones to your usually routine, it's more than worth giving it a look.