Review: Z-Run

Content Warning

Blood, Violence

This is a zombie game, so this content is expected. There is no foul language or sexual situations. The violence in the game consists mostly of the players kicking zombies, causing those zombies to fly comically into the air. There is blood that covers the screen throughout the stage, but it is like video game blood seen in the ’90s and is more of a gameplay mechanic than realistic gore. The blood blocks the screen until removed using the touchscreen.

Opening

Many games have asked the question: “What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?”

Z-Run is one of the few to do so on the Vita.

This game is not intended for binge gaming. I made the major mistake of playing through the campaign from the first to last level in one sitting, which took approximately an hour or so. The second time through, I played in small intervals and it was much better.

Story

Zombies! Run through the city. No story beyond those two sentences. This game is not designed for that anyway. It is a nice break for those of us who play story-intensive games.

Gameplay

There are two modes in Z-Run: Campaign and Survival.

In Campaign mode, players choose either a male or female character, as well as the difficulty setting. There are no major differences between the two characters outside of character animations (the female has a neat dropkick melee attack), but they both seem to function identically.

Difficulty affects how much damage the character takes, how quickly stamina depletes, and how the multiplier is applied to determine the final score at the end of the stage.

Stage selection takes place on a map with different roads to take to escape the city. There are frequently two different paths to choose from. Also on this screen, you can upgrade your character with ability points if you have earned a big enough score.

Some of these upgrades are more useful than others, but every point spent makes a significant impact. Some upgrades give the character more Stamina or Health. Other upgrades increase the amount of uses for certain weapons (such as baseball bats) or increases the ammo of other weapons (like crossbows, guns, etc.).

The actual stages play out with the character running down the street. The player can move left/right, punch, duck, dodge, jump, and use weapons to keep the character safe from the zombie horde that tries to attack.

Every action — with the exception of moving left and right — uses up Stamina, the blue bar in the bottom right. When that bar is empty, the character moves much slower and is unable to take actions. Luckily, this gauge refills over time and can also be replenished with consumables.

On the bottom left of the screen is the red Health bar. Health is pretty self-explanatory; when health runs out, the character is “dead” and you must restart the stage. There are no game-overs, so stages can be retried as many times as necessary to complete.

Survival Mode pits a (hopefully) upgraded campaign character in an endless runner-style trek down the streets to see how far you can progress. High scores can be uploaded to a leaderboard to compete with other players over PSN. To achieve the best score, it is advantageous to complete the campaign first.

Altogether, the game is easy to pick up and play. Its faults are exposed in long-term play, however. There are only three different styles of stages that alternate between the three different areas. If you have seen one, you have seen them all. The zombies are repetitive and only have so many templates. This game is best played in short 5-10 minute sessions. It feels like an Android/iOS game in that respect.

Presentation

This game is on par with mobile game graphics. There are about 10-15 different zombie models that are used throughout. It was a smart choice putting this on the small screen of the Vita rather than a console.

I experienced a couple small glitches during my playthrough. At one point, my character was stuck inside an object and no action freed him; I was eventually knocked out of the glitch by a zombie attack. A regular occurrence was the game confusing HP and Stamina potions in the Item Menu. HP potions are supposed to be Red and Stamina are supposed to be Blue, but the game will just refer to all potions as Red at some point. This happened on different files, characters, and difficulties. In addition, the game will not recognize that an ability point has been spent until after the next stage.

The sound effects in this game suit the purposes of attacking and being attacked by zombies. I only played with the sound on about half the time because the repetitive zombie screams were disturbing those around me. The music serves to put noise in the background, but not get in the way.

The Bottom Line

 

Z-Run is a nice game to play when you are waiting for the bus or are just looking to kill some time. I hope the developers patch up some of the game's glitches by the release date, or shortly thereafter. It's not a terrible game, by any means, just not incredibly outstanding.

 

5

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Thomas Martin

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