Stiffer than the bones of the undead – Z-Run
The endless runner scourge has made its way from smartphones, to PC, and even to consoles. The genre has seen countless different settings and themes injected into it for flavour, but this is the first time (that we are aware of) that we have ever seen it cross-contaminate with the vile zombie hordes. Z-Run, from Beatshapers, has you take control of either a male or female protagonist and guide them through a zombie infected city, but does it have enough bite to it to keep things interesting?
As you begin the game you are dropped onto a map screen which provides an overview of the city streets. As you progress through the map more routes will unlock, giving you more variety and the option to take different routes through the undead ravaged streets. We quite liked having the ability to plan out our route through the city, and even to bypass some trickier stages, unfortunately the locales are repeated ad-nauseum and only change when you reach a new part of the city. Once you have selected your route you then take control of your character and run for your life!
The locations are nicely detailed and are alive with undead activity, abandoned cars and other bits and pieces that you have to avoid. Your character has the ability to jump, slide and roll-dodge past obstacles and enemies; they can also wield a number of weapons and potions too. Danger not only comes in the form of the undead,but on your depleting stamina bar also. Every action you make, be it swinging a bat at a zombie, dodging a car or sprinting will deplete your stamina. Should you run out completely you will slow to a crawl making you vulnerable to attack. Luckily, health and stamina power ups are liberally sprinkled throughout every stage, so you will rarely find yourself completely out of luck.
As previously mentioned, Z-run features an arsenal of weapons with which you can decimate the undead, unfortunately they often feel surplus to requirements. Guns are extremely weedy and weak feeling, bats break, and wrenches just plain suck. There is a distinct lack of “meatiness” to them, and more often than not you will endanger yourself taking them out to use them. We played through almost the entire game using only the slide attack to take down enemies. Bulkier weapons with more oomph, which produced more gore, would have made them a little more essential.
Our main gripe with Z-Run though is how stiff and slow it feels. The runner genre is supposed to feel swift and unpredictable, but the protagonists run so slowly. almost like they have shat themselves – which wouldn’t be surprising given the circumstances! Movement is clunky and cumbersome and often we found ourselves clipping the environment which then meant we’d get pounced on by passing zombies. Later stages become much more cramped with less space to move about, and this only compounds our issues with how unwieldy the character feels.
It’s a shame that Z-Run wasn’t executed with a little more finesse because the premise is quite unique and fun. Some of the locations and character models are also quite nice to look at. However, based on its stiff controls and some irritating design choices we can’t recommend it; especially not at £7.39!
Z-Run is available to buy on PSN.