Zombies and Endless Runners are two fads that had run their course several years ago. Developer Beatshapers apparently did not get the memo pf their demise as their 2014 Vita release Z-Run attempts to resuscitate both of these fleeting fads. Does Z-Run manage to breath new life into these stale mainstays or is it another nail in the coffin?
The game doesn’t offer up any explanation to why zombies have populated its game world but the player doesn’t need much motivation to run from the flesh-eating citizens that roam the streets! While the protagonist (who can be either male or female) runs by himself, the player can control where they go and what way they choose to tackle the zombie problem.
It is the player’s decision to choose whether they dodge and slide out-of-the-way of the infected or if they will they use weapon and melee attacks to stop them in their undead tracks. Every action the player makes has a consequence as they all drain the protagonist’s stamina bar. While there are recovery items found in the environment, it is still essential to find a balance between attacking and dodging. It’s a rather complex set-up for an endless runner, a genre known for its simplicity, as almost every button on the Vita (including the touch screen) is used.
The game is split into two modes as it offers up a level based campaign and an endless survival mode. The campaign is the meat of the offering as the player is continuously levelling up by playing which in turns earns points that can be used on health upgrades and additional weapon slots. The sense of progression is a nice touch but unfortunately it doesn’t fix the problem that Z-Run just isn’t that fun to play.
Most who purchase Z-Run will quickly find out that its far too easy to avoid zombies for the most part and once you purchase a few upgrades you’ll rarely die. Even with all the added complexity, there isn’t enough depth on offer. Also the game, in an attempt to utilize the Vita’s touchscreen, chose to have blood splatter on the screen which then has to be manually wiped off by the player’s finger. I’m not sure if this was an attempt at realism but it makes the game a chore to play.
There is also very little variety in the zombies as there were only three distinct types I encountered. The common zombie will leap at you when you’re close but are easily avoided. Bigger brute-type zombies are also present that can only be downed with a weapon and then finally there are zombies that try to hold the player. This then leads to a boring segment where the player must tap the square button like a madman for a few seconds before being released.
More atrocious than the gameplay is how Z-Run looks and runs. If you choose to dash, the player starts going at a speed that makes the animations chug more than my alcoholic father. Movement just never looks natural in Z-Run. Surprisingly, the frame-rate manages to holds up for the most part but the game just moves in such an unnatural, ugly way that it is constantly a distraction.
Players will also be seeing the same environments over and over again as the game only offers three unique looks. Each of these are also available as their own Survival mode. Even well done leaderboards doesn’t make Z-Run fun to play as beating your friends score only makes it apparent that you need a better game to play.
Not everything is bad as the game does have some fun weapons that range from guns to katanas. It also feels good when you are gunning down several zombies with one shot. Sadly, it isn’t enough to save the game as it just isn’t a polished enough affair to be worth anyone’s time.
Z-Run manages to take two played out parts of gaming, put them together and somehow make them even more dull. It isn’t a complete mess of a game but there isn’t any fun to be had either. There are far better games on the PlayStation Vita so give them a spin instead.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation Vita code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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