I often wake up at night drenched in sweat because I didn't come up with the 'endless runner' format. An idea so simple that my nan could've thought of it just by needing the toilet urgently, it has become almost synonymous with mobile gaming as a whole. Well, that and Angry Birds...
The latest to infect your mobile device of choice is Into The Dead, a game that checks any shame in at the door by throwing itself right into this genre and adding zombies. That's the equivalent of FIFA 14 deciding to align itself with the undead (although you could say they already did that last year by including Rob Green...). Surprisingly, though, developer Pik Pok has actually managed to craft something that's rather addictive.
The premise is – as ever - simple. Your character runs towards the horizon – or in this case a wood – and you choose when to move left or right with either tilt or touchscreen controls. Given how basic it is there's not too much that can go wrong, and it's the pre-running purchases where Into The Dead actually injects a bit of interest into its mix.
While your first attempt will see you weaponless, subsequent dashes will give you the option to pick up a gun by deliberately tailoring your run to grab one. There's also an option to pick a pistol from the off, as well as other game-changers such as starting further up the field, giving yourself more ammo or putting extra weapon crates in the environment. You will gain coins from each survival chase but, as ever, Pik Pok has designed things to try and encourage in-app spending. There's enough here to give plenty of entertainment without dropping extra money on it, but expect to be enticed to part with your cash.
When you do have a pistol in hand, mind, the focus shifts somewhat. Ammo is limited, but the ability, obviously, now exists to shoot zombies in the face. It's oddly therapeutic, although it takes two bullets to take down your would-be killer, meaning all rules are now ruined as a straight shot to the head should always be instant-death. If you're having a particularly bad day, however, running like a lunatic ploughing lead shells into brains isn't a bad way to give yourself a little perk-me-up. Better still, get involved for long enough and the array of weapons that open to you borders on the ridiculous. Mini-guns, chainsaws, shotguns; all are available should you so wish to reign utter terror down among the dead.
You don't have to just focus on how many metres you can cover either. If you get bored of how much distance you can cover – and you will – there's also the option to access a mode where you try and kill as many zombies as possible, or up the ante and attempt 'hardcore'. Aside from being hideously named, at least it clutters the screen with an almost terrifying amount of foes.
Endless runners rarely offer up too much variety, but there is something oddly appealing about Into The Dead. Let's keep it simple: if you like zombies, buy it. Yeah.