Zombies just want to cuddle.
Running through spooky environments infested with zombies is a bad idea, but what if it were the only means of escape? That's the premise behind PikPok's gruesome iPhone and iPad title, Into the Dead. Delightfully addictive, this endless running adventure tasks players with steering a lone and unnamed survivor through a handful of locations filled with flesh eating freaks, where the goal is to survive as long as possible to post the best time on the leaderboard. Wander too close to a rotting corpse, and you receive a gruesome scene of the creature taking multiple bites from its latest victim, complete with nasty chewing noises.
Calling this game addictive is an understatement, and it's such a joy to play, even just a few minutes. This is due in large part to the four control schemes that put the iOS smartphone and tablet features to use. Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of taste. We prefer motion controls, tilting right and left to move in those respective directions. You, on the other hand, may opt for touching the left or right sides of the screen, or the invisible thumb stick.
At least on the positive side, the developers don't throw you into the countryside unarmed. By completing in-game missions and hoarding gold coins, you're able to unlock a small armory of weapons, including a pistol, automatic rifle, shotgun and the reliable, meat-splitting chainsaw. Granted, you don't begin Into the Dead with a full arsenal. You'll need to locate and then run through specially marked crates and crosses, but it's better than nothing, we say.
Meanwhile, the game has this outstanding presentation. The black and white graphics give it a very Night of the Living Dead (circa 1968) vibe, while the sparse use of color makes a creepy impact, particularly the yellow zombies' eyes and the obvious splash of red that streaks across the screen upon getting caught.
Taking all of this into account, and as great as Into the Dead is, we still feel there's something missing. In fact, PikPok makes this readily apparent, with two additional modes (Massacre, Hardcore) coming soon, along with the ability to equip a dog that follows you on your travels and presumably tears those zombies to pieces. More annoyingly, you'll see ads from time to time. While not game breaking by any means, it's a bit strange to see more light-hearted fare pop up after getting killed by a zombie.
Like all of PikPok's games, however, Into the Dead is a gem, a shining example of a title that flourishes on the App Store. Both hardcore and casual, this thoroughly addictive effort manages to stand out in the crowded endless running genre. Suffice to say, we'll play it well into 2013.
What's Hot: First-person running, eerie black and white visuals, four different control schemes that make great use of smartphones and tablets, tension throughout, free-to-play.
What's Not: Ads, accidentally firing a weapon while trying to steer.