The Running Dead

By potter, Posted 15 Jun 2014

It’s no surprise to see endless runners turn up on PlayStation Vita, seeing how the device borrows so much from the world of smart phones, home to the popular and addictive Temple Run, Monster Dash and Rayman Fiesta Run, for example. Z-Run is more than just a simple ‘swipe to avoid’ runner, though, as developer Beatshapers have introduced some new gameplay ideas to the genre.

Use the Vita touch screen to wipe away the blood obscuring your view,Z-Run,Review,Vita,Endless Runner

Z-Run offers a Campaign mode that sees you navigate the city and suburbs of a post-apocalyptic, zombie-strewn Tokyo. It looks graphically impressive on Vita, too, with environment details right down to stray cats that have apparently outlived most humans. The ‘endless’ running is broken up into short stages. In the game’s second mode, ‘Survival’, players are tested to see how many metres they can make it, before reaching an inevitable end at the hands and teeth of the shuffling hordes.

There are a few ways you can approach the assault course of abandoned cars and flesh-eating fiends. Use the right thumbstick to roll out of the way or hold X to slide along the floor and kick the putrid pedestrians into the pavement. If you’re lucky, you might find a melee weapon like a baseball bat or... bass guitar to swing wildly, or perhaps a shotgun to blast away multiple targets. Unlike a lot of endless runners, Z-Run gives you a health bar, so you can take a few hits before failing a run. This is on the opposite side of the screen to the stamina bar, which adds a layer of resource management. Every dodge, slide or jump will eat away at the blue bar. Let it deplete and your character will tire-out, leaving you vulnerable to attack. This is where Z-Run can become a little unforgiving and relies on you having a stamina replenishing pickup or means to blast away foes at the ready. I often found myself helpless amidst a sea of zombies after what I thought had been a fairly successful run. There were also times when I would get permanently stuck behind an obstacle until I bled to death.

Multiple paths through the city,Z-Run,Review,Vita,Endless Runner

The game does offer a levelling system though, so after collecting enough XP you can spend skill points on improving stamina, vitality and other abilities to help keep you running just that little bit longer. After you’ve dispatched a couple of undead, your view is obscured by splatters of blood, having you frantically wiping at your Vita screen while still trying to avoid obstacles. Some stages are optional, so if you find yourself getting frustrated with a particular run, you can opt to take a different route through the city and try your luck elsewhere in the undead-ridden city.

You will see the campaign credits roll after just a couple of hours in Z-Run, but given the typically low price point of games from Beatshapers, that’s okay. This game suits short bursts, so if you have your Vita handy you can go for a spot of zombie dodging while you’re riding the bus. There’s replayability in completing every single route, or challenging yourself in survival mode, but don’t expect much more than a few hours of fun from this game - and that also depends on how tired you are of what feels like the most worn out theme in all media - zombies. The added complexity and various strategies for tackling each run sets Z-Run apart from other games of this genre, and the new challenges are a welcome fresh take to the world of endless runners.

William Potter, NoobFeed (@Twitter)

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General Information



Platform(s): Vita
Publisher(s): Beatshapers
Developer(s): Beatshapers
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Action
Release Date: 2014-06-14

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