Runner games are not a new concept in the grand scheme of gaming, and while there have been a few on historic consoles, the most recent generation of Runner game tends to be designed for short burst entertainment on your phone or tablet device of choice. To this day, Jetpack Joyride still has a place on my device with the choices the developers made back then still issuing a standard blueprint for the later pretenders to the throne.
1) Lightning fast twitch gameplay
2) Coins to collect in order to buy “wacky” personilisations or boosts
3) Randomised challenges to engender the “just one more run” mentality
Wanting to try something new, the team at Beatshapers threw out the blueprint and decided to take a fresh approach. This is one occasion where one of the development team would have been forgiven should they have dove back in that dumpster and beat the rest of the team to death with it.
ZRun is, as the title subtly conveys, a runner with Zombies. You play a survivor in a world overrun with the Zombie horde, and your only chance to endure the walking corpse apocalypse is to run. The campaign is through a sprawling metropolis, and sets you the challenge of fleeing through the city to eventual safety, or should I correctly say “bustling”. A key component of most runners, are their blistering speed, which in turn creates that teeth-grinding, frustration inducing deaths that stem from things getting just that bit too hard; but in turn promotes the satisfaction and sense of achievement when passing a particularly difficult section. Beatshapers instead opted for the coma-inducing Jogging simulator.
Your character lumbers along with the awkward gait of the chronically Diarrhetic. Thankfully, the shambling masses are slower and less responsive than the games controls so navigating the level is possible when combined with your array of acrobatic skills. Zombies and environmental obstacles can be evaded by jumping, sprinting or even sliding, but each use of these skills drains your limited stamina bar and leaves you vulnerable. Scattered throughout the level are numerous pick-ups to aid you in your endeavours. Cans of soda restore your damaged health and an assortment of weapons with which to dispatch your undead obstacles are both picked up simply by running over the item. Regrettably, as alluded to earlier, the clumsy controls make attacking your foes more dangerous to your health than simply avoiding them, so the inclusion of melee weapons has next to no impact.
While there are no randomised challenges to push you through, there is an included levelling system which allows you to assemble stat boosts to make your traversal easier, but given that even with the hobbling due to poor controls, the game never really challenges, these additions are also surplus to requirements.
At 40 levels long, you would expect a decent investment, but with so little challenge it is deceptively short and repetitive. Moving from one screen to the next has slight changes to the positioning of the enemies on the city streets but sadly those self-same streets look identical.
With uninteresting gameplay, a distinct lack of longevity and boring visuals, ZRun cannot achieve anything more than being consigned to a sub par alternative to the wide range of Runner games on the market. Unlike the antagonists of the game, this title will remain dead and buried.
MLG Rating: 3/10 Format: PlayStation Vita Release Date: 18/06/2014
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of ZRun by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a PS Vita. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.