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Review: Zombie Parkour Runner (iOS)

Sunday, December 11th, 2011 by

I really don’t know where to start when talking about Zombie Parkour Runner. Like Braid, we have a game that tells a story in a completely different way than what we’re used to being told. However, it’s very easy to miss that story.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Just what is Zombie Parkour Runner?

Like Mirror’s Edge on iOS before it, we have a female lead jumping from rooftop to rooftop and avoiding obstacles using her parkour skills. Unlike Mirror’s Edge, it has zombies and controls like your average endless runner.

Zombie Parkour Runner, however, is not an endless runner. Whereas most runners generate areas procedurally,  these stages have been constructed manually. Though it has runner in the name, it’s far closer to a traditional platforming game with branching paths and stages that end when you reach the goal.  You don’t have direct control of your movement, you only control the actions you take while moving to the right. Tapping either jumps or does context-sensitive parkour. It’s very simplistic, but it’s also very enjoyable.

Zombie! Parkour! Runner! Now, how can we fit in "TD" and "Birds"?

Successfully perform parkour three consecutive times and you earn a score multiplier (with a cap at 4x) and a minor speed increase. Falter within the environment, though, and that multiplier is reset and you lose your speed. At the end of the stage, you’re given a star rating based on your score.

It’s easy to take the story represented in the game’s cut scenes as the entirety of the story. Take the game at face value and you have a game about a girl out to retrieve her stuff from thieving zombies. It’s a silly, lighthearted take on the zombie genre.

Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll see why Kara wants her house items back so badly. Hidden within each stage is a house item. Once you collect the item, it is placed within the house found on the main menu. There you can read a description.

The further you get, the more you realize that these aren’t mere personal possessions Kara is after. They are sentimental treasures she needs while coping with loss. The description of item 3-8, in particular, broke my heart. It’s a surprisingly somber revelation in an otherwise lighthearted game.

As simplistic and brief as the game is, it is also a load of fun with surprising depth, smooth animation, solid sound, and support for both OpenFeint and GameCenter. This game is far under the radar, but it is a definite must-buy for people who need a change-of-pace from standard iOS fare.

 

About the Author

Fade to Slack is a founding member of Delta Attack, an American expatriate in South Korea, and a true believer in the legitimacy of mobile gaming. Keep up with him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Fade2Slack so he can justify having a Twitter account.

Fade to Slack has written 347 posts on Delta Attack
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  • Markham Asylum

    The gameplay sounds fun, and the hidden story sounds great. I loved the sub-story in Braid.

    • Fade to Slack

      Braid’s is far deeper with a better payoff, but I found myself obsessed with getting the house item for more information, not just for achievements and leaderboard status (top 5%, though). Perhaps it didn’t resonate with people as well as it did for me, but after reading other reviews, I haven’t seen so much as a mention. It seems strange to me as it damn near ripped my heart out.

      • Markham Asylum

        Congrats, you just caused me to start an iOS wishlist, even though I have no plans to get an iOS device anytime soon.

        • Fade to Slack

          You know, honestly, you are missing out. I know the initial cost is overwhelming, and most games are not as robust as what you get from larger studios, but there are so many experiences that just aren’t available elsewhere. Moreover, and Mister Brooks and I have spoke about this, it’s amazing that so many developers give their game away just for word of mouth. So was the case of Zombie Parkour Runner and, damn, did it grab my attention. The DLC stages are brutal, but awfully rewarding.

  • Mercfoot

    I’m stuck on 3-8. Any tips on how to get the house item without getting zapped by the barbed wire next to it?

    • Fade to Slack

      That one was tricky to get. You have two jump lengths based upon how long you hold your tap. You’ll have to run across one gap and then do two short jumps followed by a long jump to get through. I know it sucks, but just keep trying. I probably played through that stage twenty times before I actually picked it up without dying.

      I don’t know if you bought the DLC pack, but 3-8 will almost seem easy compared to some of those.

  • Trey

    What is the actual hidden story? How is she trying to cope with loss if it doesn’t show her losing anyone?

    • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

      Get all the extra items. Read the descriptions. It tells another story that’s just too easy to miss.

      The more I played, the more I wondered who was being talked about. Then, the very last item you get in the core game has the big reveal.

      This really is an under-appreciated gem of a game.