From the first time I saw the original black and white Night of the Living Dead I’ve been a huge fan of zombie movies. The color remake made them my favorite horror genre; each new zombie flick (both good and bad) used the concept differently.
So imagine my delight when my favorite movie monster made its way to the iOS store. The first title I was aware of was the extremely popular port of Plants Versus Zombies; while it’s a humorous title it still embraces the fundamentals of the genre. More inventive apps followed, like Zombies, Run! and Zombie Smash; each with a new take on interaction, mechanics, and in the case of Zombies, Run! even purpose. From there the popularity of zombies has exploded, fueled by television hits like Walking Dead, novels like World War Z, and an ever-increasing number of films. With all the new arrivals the iTunes App Store has even given Zombie Games a turn at being listed in their sub genre selections. With all the popularity the genre was bound to get a bit stale, but thanks to app makers PikPok my favorite monsters have been given new (un) life.
Into the Dead is a bit of a conundrum. It can alternately take paragraphs to adequately describe, or just be summed up as AWESOME. Like most outstanding games, the concept is simple and concise- you’ve survived a helicopter crash while escaping a city, only to land in a field of the undead. Your only option for survival is to run, and run now.
The game presents in a first person view as you collect yourself and become aware of your surroundings. You run from the wreckage through fields, rows of crops, and forest towards a radio tower in the distance that seems to offer salvation. The further you go the denser the hordes of the undead become, and other obstacles that will make you stumble and momentarily lose control litter your path. Running into one of the shambling corpses allows them to bring your flight to a halt as they gruesomely feast on your flesh.
The game is scored primarily on how far you make it from your wrecked copter. Power ups come in the form of crates that provide various weapons that allow you to kill zombies in your path. Other accomplishments are given for clearing obstacles, killing (or not killing) the undead, and collecting and using various power ups. The game provides several methods of control for your endless flight; my preferred method was tapping the edges of the screen to steer my path as I ran, but other reviewers have preferred tilt controls.
This was the first ‘endless runner’ type game I’ve played; so called because your character never reaches an ending point. The concept meshes perfectly with the idea of a city that has succumbed to a zombie plague; the gameplay needs no explanation and immediately draws you in. The true crowning jewel of the app is how perfectly the graphics and sound have been crafted. The game is portrayed in black and white, and your view is hampered by mist and the lack of light. Some zombies shamble towards you from the murk, others rise from the ground as you approach. Come close enough and they will strike out at you, causing you to momentarily stumble as you hear their dead voices.
The game is a true first person POV perspective; the display sways in time with your steps and stumbles. The sound of your gasping breath as you try to escape certain death adds a sense of urgency to the app just as a good soundtrack accentuates the emotional impact of a film. The app was immersive from the start, and while the gameplay is straightforward and simple it took several flights through the countryside before I could put it down.
Not only can I recommend the game for the sheer enjoyment of playing and the artistry of the visuals and sound, it falls into a favorite category of just about every iOS device owner- free. Into the Dead is compatible with iPhone 3GS and later, iPod Touch 3G and later, and the iPad (but is optimized for the iPhone 5). If you enjoy this genre at all (or are just looking for something new and different) do yourself a favor and download Into the Dead now.
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