“Zombies, Run!” Fitness App Should Be Renamed “Zombies… Ugh”

I would have preferred being chased by actual zombies over paying $3.99 for this app. | Screenshot by Grace Rasmus
I would have preferred being chased by actual zombies over paying $3.99 for this app | Image by Grace Rasmus

Let me just preface this by saying it was probably not wise of me to purchase this app in the first place, as I am a fan of neither video games nor exercise nor paying for apps. Zombies, Run!, a fitness app that tracks your runs, happens to combine all three of these things.

As it was first described to me, the Zombies, Run! app tracks your running, and when it decides it wants you to run faster, the sound of snarling zombies creeps into your headphones, behind your music, and forces you to run faster in order to outrun said zombies.

Despite the fact that I totally miss every point of this app’s demographic, I decided to give Zombies, Run! a try. I reasoned that since I am a total wimp when it comes to anything even mildly scary, a little fear-based motivation would go a long way to jumpstart my workout. The sound of snarling, growling zombies creeping through my headphones would be exactly what I needed to make me push through any pain or tiredness, and I would go on to win a 5k or something, right?

Not exactly.

I realized as soon as I started running that this app was unfortunately not going to be the simple “hear zombies, run faster” scenario I had dreamed up in my head. Rather, the experience was very story-based, with the first five minutes of my jog on the Esplanade spent listening to two condescending British people chatting on a radio transmission about the impending zombie doom.

Condescending British Guy [to me]: “I’m just going to call you Runner #5, because honestly I can’t remember your name.” (Really? I paid $3.99 for this app and you’re not even going to bother to learn my name? Rude.)

Underwear and batteries will surely help me outrun the zombies! | Screenshot by Grace Rasmus
Underwear and batteries will surely help me outrun the zombies! | Image by Grace Rasmus

Seriously, though, as a non-runner, I’d much rather listen to distracting Kanye West music while I’m huffing and puffing than a fake story I’m not interested in, so the lengthiness of the Brits’ conversation was frustrating.

Finally, the music cued up and I felt a sense of relief. Every 20 seconds or so, though, I would hear something totally unintelligible.

“Srurhk – chuur – zmburfff!”

What was that?! It sounds like a drowning robot. Are these the zombies I’ve been waiting for? Is the condescending guy having a stroke? What is going on? What is he saying? Why did I pay $4.00 for this?

The sound would stop briefly, and then would come back again several seconds later, still sounding like total nonsense. I finally looked down at my phone and realized that I had somehow been collecting random items–First Aid kits, trousers, crutches, etc.–and the drowning robot noise had probably been congratulating me or something. Oh. Maybe I would have realized this if I had listened to what the British people were saying, but I had tuned them out almost immediately. Oops.

I continued on my run, and the robot voice finally said something more clearly: “Warning, Zombies approaching.”

Yes! I thought. Finally, this is what I signed up for. When I hear the zombie snarls and moans, I’ll start sprinting!

The zombie noises never came, though. I heard a beep. No moans, no groans, no spooky noises: a beep. The beep became more frequent if I slowed down, signifying that the zombies were getting closer, but it was not hard at all for me to outrun the beep–all I had to do was increase my speed by 20 percent for one minute and I would be beep-free. My song finished, the Brits congratulated me on my performance, and that was it.

Capturing Kodak moments take priority over escaping fake zombies. | Photo by Grace Rasmus
Capturing Kodak moments takes priority over escaping fake zombies | Photo by Grace Rasmus

I felt totally cheated. Perhaps it was only this easy because I was on the first level, but I was expecting way more of a challenge, and way more of a zombie presence.

In the next round, I decided to see what would happen if I let the zombies get to me. Halfway through the next song, I decided to pull over and snap some pictures of the sunset and a double rainbow while I kept the app running. The GPS system knew that I was no longer moving, and when the robot announced that the zombies were approaching again, I let the beep get faster and faster until the zombies had supposedly overtaken me.

Nothing happened.

“You escaped the zombies!” my phone read.

Uh, no, I didn’t. I was standing still, choosing an Instagram filter.

I had had enough of this non-zombie nonsense, so I shut off my phone and headed home.

Perhaps someone predisposed to actually like zombies and video games and physical activity would have more fun with this app than I did, but I was disappointed to say the least. If you do want to give it a try, though, please use my phone. I can’t consciously encourage anyone else to actually drop money on this beeping, British, zombie-lacking zombie app.

About Grace Rasmus

Grace Rasmus (COM '15) is a journalism major from New York who strives to act like a combination of Liz Lemon, April Ludgate, and Mike Ehrmantraut. In between coffee breaks and Netflix binges, she likes to write about politics, pop culture, technology, scientific studies, women's issues, and The Bean.

View all posts by Grace Rasmus →

5 Comments on ““Zombies, Run!” Fitness App Should Be Renamed “Zombies… Ugh””

  1. It sounds like you might not have set the app up quite right or perhaps your headphones have a fault. When I get a zombie warning I do not get beeps. And all the voice acting is very clear and easy to understand.
    The way your review is written it gives the impression that you actually are anti-British or are struggling to understand a different accent.

    I am a very happy fan of Zombies Run. I’m finding it very engaging and motivating to help me get some exercise after the recent birth of my child.

    1. Glad to hear you had a better experience with it than I did!

      I’m have no idea how to explain our vastly different experiences. I should have made it clear that I was using Zombies Run 2 for iPhone as opposed to the 5k Training or the original Zombies Run app, so perhaps that makes a difference in the content/quality.

      I also had no trouble understanding the accents (unless robot-voice counts as an accent), I just wished that the dialogue hadn’t gone on for so long. (And I sincerely apologize if I came off as anti-British — I am actually moving to London in a couple of months so that is definitely not the case!)

      Thanks for reading!

  2. First off, why did you buy this app? You claim you have no interest in zombies or games, and yet you purchased the game and then went out of your way to write a negative review of it. Weird. Might want to stick to your Kanye.

    I think you really kind of have to be a fan of zombies to get into it- otherwise you’re probably not going to get into the story, as you didn’t.
    As for the ‘condescending’ British voices- I can say I was definitely a huge fan of them. It’s not often you get something like this that doesn’t have an obnoxious American accent, and it was a big relief. However I would agree with you in regard to the robot voice- hard to understand, amen.

    I am a huge fan of this game. Sure, the zombie chases aren’t hugely challenging unless you really get into it, but the story is really interesting and I find myself going out for a run just to find out what is happening next.

    Hope you find a game/app better suited to your interests.

  3. Yeah… if it doesn’t sound fun in the description then it probably won’t be. I happen to love this app. I love being outside. I love video games. I love zombie shows. I happen to love the dialogue. I like listening to the sounds, and how they describe my surroundings. It helps my imagination. I HATE running. But now I find myself excited for the next pretty day that I can go out and use this app. It isn’t really fair to give this app such a bad review when you didn’t put in any effort into liking it. You can’t expect to get excited about the story line or the zombies if you don’t listen to the story.

  4. Unfortunately I totally agree! I think the app has potential but needs improving…. I was expecting to have to work for my goals, do something to get hospital supplies but no, I just kept on running and it told me I’d collected them. It would be awesome if it knew where you were and spoke to you accordingly using the GPS tracking, for example when approaching a corner/landmark such a park using that to talk to me about zombies whilst instead they were telling me about some tall white building above all the rest when I was jogging around residential London and also telling me that I was running through a hospital when I clearly wasn’t…. I hope over time it will get a bit cleverer, it has lots of potential but right now its just kind of a recording…. who knows, maybe in the future it will link you to other zombie runners in the area and get you to mission together or something really advanced. Looking forward to seeing it develop….. very glad the accents are English though! Nicely written article xx

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