Z-Run is a game for the PS Vita made by Beatshapers who has been responsible for developing a lot of PlayStation content including Furmins, BreakOut Quest, Canabalt, and Sparkle 2. Beatshapers are also responsible for publishing indie games including Jetpack Joyride by Halfbrick Studios which led to the eventual release later published by Halfbrick known as Age of Zombies. Z-Run is the latest title from Beatshapers and after this the company plans to announce at least three PlayStation 4 projects, one of which works on the PlayStation Morpheus Virtual Reality Headset. But does Z-Run feed the craving for flesh on Vita?
While Z-Run does have the option of a “Campaign”, there is no story that is told to the player. Presumably the protagonist that players are in control of is running through the streets of a city trying to escape the outbreak of a zombie infection. This a major downfall for the game, with no plot there is nothing to really bind the game together and makes it seem like more of a casual mobile game than a goal-orientated beat em up game (which is evidently what Beatshapers was going for).
Z-Run pulls together a lot of cool features making the gameplay pretty alright. For example, when the player kills zombies it splatters blood on the screen obscuring the user’s view. This can be cleared by waiting for it to dissipate or by the player wiping the touchscreen with their hand a couple of times. Another thing that makes the game interesting is that it could be expected that it would only have a survival mode where the player runs forever trying to make it high on the leaderboard. This is not true, it does have a survival mode, but has a campaign mode as well with some interesting features.
While in campaign mode the player is challenged with trying to make it from checkpoint to checkpoint through the city. At each checkpoint there is an opportunity to use the points / money gained from each level and upgrade certain aspects of the character, such as how much stamina the player has. While running to the next goal a player may see a peculiar zombie. What makes it different is it has a friends’ name on it with their score. This indicates where a friend had died along the way and what their score was at the time of death. What sets it apart from a game where the player just dodges obstacles is that the player usually must kill zombies to survive with an arrangement of kicks, hits, and gun shots. There are a couple of problems with the gameplay though. There are some obstacles that are needed to be jumped over to be avoided, but mid-air the character can still be hit and take damage. The same goes for kicking. Being killed by a zombie mid-air while trying to kick another out of the way is more than a little irritating.
All of the controls in Z-Run feel right and work together well though, especially the touchscreen integration in the game. When a players’ screen becomes bloodied they may wipe either the back or front touch screen to clear it depending on preference. However, if a player does not like the control scheme, they can not change it and will have to deal with the current control setup.
The enemies are a variety of zombies with different looks and some with different sizes. The smaller zombies can be kicked and kicked out of the way easily while the larger zombies need to be shot to be moved without getting hit by them. The only character in the game is the protagonist that the player takes control of. There is the occasional stray animal wandering around in the background, but other than that there is no one else in the game.
Z-Run actually looks surprisingly nice on the Vita. Its a fairly simple game but all the same looks wonderful. It can sometimes look/feel too cartoonish, however. Such as when a player goes for an extended jump the character just kind of floats and wiggles in the air for the duration of the jump. Or when a zombie is kicked out of the way it can spiral in the air for a bit before landing. This is more than likely intentional but all the same seems a little too silly.
The soundtrack is for this game is actually pretty good with the composer for the main theme being Vladimir Frey, the composer from Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl. Again, the sound can be a bit cartoonish at times with the zombies making weird/silly noises when they are killed. The overall audio of the game game is good but a bit repetitive which after a while can become quite annoying.
Replay ability of this game is good as long as the player really gets into it the first time around. Z-Run does not really draw a person back to it though. If any reason to continue playing it is to either get a high score or to complete the game. If a player does really like the game though and get into it, there is a high replay ability. Once the game is finished each checkpoint can be revisited and there is a survival mode that can be played to try and get as high as possible on the leaderboard.
For the most part Z-Run ran perfectly fine on the Vita but there were some glitches that happened a surprising amount of times. One being that if a player jumped and then landed on the end of an obstacle while a zombie was there the character would be stuck there and unable to move or die. Another is that sometimes the the character would end up endlessly bumping against a wall unable to die for some reason. When they happened the first time it seemed like they were just rare glitches that would probably never happen again, but that was not the case.
Overall this game is alright at best. There are a couple of cool mechanics in the game but there is nothing to really bind it all together. It looks alright and plays okay but still feels like just another game where the player endlessly dodges obstacles trying to get a high score. It could have been greatly improved if there were some sort of story to go along with it, to give the player a reason to continue on and get deeper into the game. In the end the game is a fun game to pass the time but not something that someone would go out of there way to play each day.
Overall Score: 5 / 10
RGN Rating: Below Bronze
Developer / Publisher: Beatshapers
Review Copy Info: A digital copy of this game was provided to RealGamerNewz by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by Colton Agathen on 20140704 and was last modified on 20140704 .