Since the launch of early iOS titles like Canabalt, the endless runner genre has really matured. My fiancée, Rachel, is obsessed with this genre. When I was approached with this review opportunity, I showed her and she was quite excited. We’ve both played the game, so we have a broad perspective on this addition to our catalogue.
Running Dead took something I normally hate– fast zombies– and made them fun. I did have to keep telling myself that this was 28 Days Later and not a Romero flick, though. The concept isn’t complicated: fast zombies are running after you and you need to get away. You have a gun, but it has limited ammo. Also, there are zombies blocking your way along the path that you either need to avoid, or shoot.
You’re running toward the top of the screen, and have to weave around abandoned cars and through houses. Strewn around these hazards are the helpful crates you’ll come to depend on. Some have ammo, some money, and the best have special weapons. If you take too long to find your way around, the zombies you hear behind you will get closer and closer to you. When running straight, you’re slightly faster than them, but as you go diagonal, you’re much slower. If you can keep your path straight, you’ll have an easier time avoiding them.
As previously stated, your gun has limited ammo, so you need to keep tabs on your bullets. At first, zombies will take 3-4 bullets to kill, but you can level up your weapons in between runs to make them stronger. On top of your regular ammo, you can get special weapons that are one-time use weapons. These range from bombs to multi-shots that will fire behind you to clear the horde if they are closing in.
The controls are a real winner here. As a disabled gamer, this can make or break a game for me. Running Dead gives you four different layouts to use. Rachel liked the tilt-based controls and I preferred ‘layout 1’ (pictured). By giving you more than one option, the game lets you tailor it to your personal style better.
The graphics, sound, and music are outstanding. The music even sounds like something I’d write. Heck, I even caught an audio sample in their tune that I used in a song when I was 19. Not sure why they didn’t just come to me to write them some tunes. 😉
The only negative I could find was that there are a few glitches. You can hole yourself up in some houses in spots where the zombies won’t catch up to you ever. They’ll keep running at the walls and never find the door. Also, when cars are piled together into an upward-facing V, if you get caught in there, there’s no getting back out. Your character can’t run backwards.
Running Dead is a pretty nifty endless runner with some unique features to it. It takes on a loaded genre and still brings something refreshing to the table. Rachel also tells me that it has earned a permanent spot on her iPhone from here on out (next to Canabalt, Jetpack Joyride, and Temple Run). I can’t think of a higher compliment than that!