“Zombie! Run for your life!” is a light hearted and very shallow card game. The iPad implementation is solid enough, but when the physical card-laying party-play aspect of this mediocre game is reduced to a digital version, something is definitely lost.
The game is far too simplistic for my tastes: there’s a bunch of cards, either black or white. Each turn you take a card and play a card; either a white card on yourself (defence cards), or black card on someone else (a zombie attack). Each card has a particular symbol, and symbols cancels out. So if you have a defence card with a heart on it, this will destroy a zombie card with a heart on it that’s been played on you. Get 5 black cards played on you, and you lose; 5 defence cards, and you win. A final twist, an apparent afterthought to deal with bored players being out too soon, is that you keep playing when you’re dead – as a zombie. Mechanics are identical, except you only play cards on others. There’s a few special cards, like invincible cockroach zombies, but nothing that makes any actual strategic difference.
The graphics are gorgeously digitised zombies and weaponry in high resolution – accurate to the original card game – while death animations really add a nice touch this iPad version. The clean lines and bold interface is certainly responsive, but I can’t see the need to click on the top of the draw pile to grab a new card each time – you don’t have a choice to make another move first, so why not just automate that? It slows down what would otherwise be quite frantic gameplay of just flicking cards around. Sadly, the (kind of) praise ends there.
In games with more than 3 players, it’s difficult to see the status of all players at once; they are entirely off screen as it pans to the current player, and anything involving anyone else is hidden. Cards will fly around as the AI takes their turn; destination unknown – unless it’s you or the active player.
The AI is also somewhat lacking; I can’t tell if it’s just a bad player or deliberately mean though. The AI tactic seems to be “pile on some zombies to whoever lays a defence card down first”; in a 6 player game, you’ll be out by the second turn. This inevitably of losing is quite frustrating; especially for someone who enjoys learning a game and acquiring skills.
The one unique feature is the ability to unlock more players by sharing the game on Facebook and other social networks. It’s a nice touch in a world full of freemium pay-to-unlock and DLC. That said, the unlocks are only active for 24 hours, meaning you’ll have to spam your friends again next time you have a party.
Put it this way: gameplay is even simpler than Munchkin. There’s very little depth to this, and playing against the computer isn’t fun at all – it’s simply formulaic. If you have some real world friends round to play with, then the game is perhaps passable; but then this is really just a shallow party game that’s better off played with the actual cards rather than on the iPad, and even then it’s unlikely to appeal to most gamers. It’s also very easy with this type of game to bully other players; in fact, it’s hard not to, and I’ve known games of munchkin to end in tears and fights. If you’re the type of person that enjoys munchkin, you’ll probably enjoy this too. The rest of us can stay the hell away.
I’m giving it a 3/10 purely because of the nice graphics and implementation; on gameplay alone, the score would no doubt be lower.