Ok, I might as well just put it out there straight away, I mean, you may have guessed by the heading anyway, but when I played the game I survived! Can you tell that I’m immensely proud of myself? No? Well I am. Very pleased too.
Feeling keen (well I was at least) my friend and I arrived at the start with half an hour to spare… waiting around for so long certainly added to the suspense and tension as we awaited our briefing, not to mention the need for a toilet break before we got going! Eventually we were led in to the briefing building as group of 8 – the two people in front of us and the group of four behind. Our first set of instructions set the scene; we were currently in a safe zone of a city that has been overrun by the living dead. Our mission was to leave the safe zone and explore the city for a supply of clean and safe water. To do this we were issued with a map with our first checkpoint highlighted. At each checkpoint we would need to hack a computer terminal to discover if water was available there, if not it would provide us with the grid reference to the next checkpoint. A member of the group was issued with a backpack to carry the water in and the rest of us were given instructions to protect the water carrier at all costs.
Our next set of instructions advised that we would encounter zombies along the way, which we were to avoid at all costs. Zombies are attracted to human voices and the sound of clapping, and we were informed that it is possible to sneak by them if you are very quiet and don’t run. If we were caught we would be marked on the hand by the zombie and could carry on with the mission. It was very important that the water was kept safe from the potentially infected, so if the water carrier was caught someone else would have to carry the backpack and the water. Once the water had been located we were to return to the safe zone as marked on the map, where we would find out whether those who had been caught were infected or not. It was all pretty simple really – go to the check point, hack the computer, don’t get caught, protect the water and return to the safe zone.
Fully briefed off we set off to find the first checkpoint. At this point my bladder was feeling particularly full and I was very anxious not to encounter a zombie until after a toilet break… just in case! The first set of toilets available was in the same location as the first check point, but of course you had to go through the building (and past the zombies) before you could get to the bathroom. Thankfully the first checkpoint was pretty tame, clearly to ease us in to the swing of things, and no accidents occurred!
Our second checkpoint seemed pretty tame to start with, a couple of zombies locked in a room but making loads of noise (see first section of video clip below) but on exiting the building we encountered the undead stalking the street ahead of us. As a group we began to slowly make our way forwards, until one got a little close and someone in the group panicked and began running which inevitably started the chase. All instructions forgotten, and self-preservation kicking in, I didn’t hesitate to sprint as fast as I could towards the end, at which point I turned around to watch my team mates come in safely behind me.
We managed to make it through four check points unscathed until we reached a viaduct where two zombies awaited their next snack. With their backs to us we began to slowly make our way through the passage until out of nowhere came another four zombies! Once again the self-preservation kicked in and I just ran… I didn’t look to see where my team mates were or whether they needed help, I just ran. At the end of the zone, helpfully marked out with traffic cones, we had an audience of approximately 30 locals who were lined up on the street having a few drinks and a good laugh at all these crazy people who had paid to get chased by other people (see the second section of the video clip below). It was in this short section where five of my team mates were caught… five! That was more than half the team, what the hell happened? Well, teamwork certainly didn’t! Oops.
Carrying on we made it through a few more checkpoints, wondering whether we had missed the vital water supply… particularly as we hadn’t even looked for it! Carrying on we could then see the BIG one (zone) in the distance. A huge car park on the quayside, (Spillers for any locals reading this) and what looked* to be at least 30 or 40 zombies stationed around it ready to eat the brains of any who wandered through…..shiiiiiiiiiiit! Not taking any chances we stopped at a nearby pub for a toilet break.
Arriving at the zone/checkpoint we received our instructions from a fellow survivor (actor). Clean, safe water was at the very end of the car park, but we would have to avoid the zombies first, and then avoid the corrupt SWAT team stationed in front of the water reservoir. There were two safe areas in the zone, both marked by blue barriers. We had to make it to the furthest barrier where another survivor would give us our instructions. Wanting to have my facts right, and also to satisfy my curiosity, I have just used a map to figure out the length of the zone, which was approximately 250 metres. Standing there, looking out on to the car park as other teams battled their way through, listening to the shouts and squeals at the other end of the car park as the SWAT team battled with zombies, it was pretty damn intimidating! (See the third and final section of the video below – it may not look intimidating in the video, but I promise you it was!)
Self-preservation kicked again… I saw two guys from another team wearing onesies and felt that my best chance of survival was to use them as a decoy (what a heartless bitch I am!) as what self-respecting zombie wouldn’t be attracted to a dragon or a Tigger onesie? The two guys split up and travelled up the opposite lengths of the car park. I kind of followed the guy on the left, whilst also sticking to the middle. Sure enough the zombies started going for him and I was able to spring right up the middle to the first safe area. Once I got to safety I turned back and suddenly remembered my fellow team mates once again! Half of the group were close behind me, but the other half of the group were still close to the start…oops!
Not hanging around as zombies were on the other side of our safe blue barrier, and my decoy onesie survivors were on the move again, I set off for the next safe point where we would receive our next set of instructions. This part of the zone felt like chaos, it seemed like there were zombies everywhere and by this point I had one hell of a stitch in my side. Close to safety I found myself very close to a zombie but I physically couldn’t push myself and harder, thankfully I didn’t have to as she didn’t get close enough to tag me…phew! At this point I was able to enjoy a lovely rest as I waited for the rest of my team mates… half close-by and half nowhere to be seen! I even made a video of the chaos (not displayed as very bad quality), it was only days later when I watched it back that I realised my decoy onesie survivors were still struggling to make it through long after (at least a minute or two…but a minute or two in that kind of situation feels like an eternity!) I had made it to safety. Clearly my plan for self-preservation worked a treat, and as the half of the group who were still with me had made it through by following my route it was a great success!
Our next set of instructions involved sending a volunteer out to collect the water, by climbing through a hole in a fence and back out again, whilst the others dodged the SWAT team. After making it this far there was NO WAY I was volunteering to collect the water (self-preservation!) so we let one of the group members who had already been caught take on that task…. it may have broken the rules slightly but we weren’t explicitly told that the volunteer had to be free of infection. Our volunteer took off in one direction and off we went in the other, quickly making it to safety.
After this we had only one more encounter; a long and narrow cycle path, with zombies lurking in the bushes along the way. We encountered a fellow survivor (actor) who informed us that we were very close to safety, we just had to make it a bit further along the path and we would find a set of steps on the right which would lead us to the back door. The survivor, well equipped with a riot shield, would show us the way. At this point I considered making a video of the last run to freedom, but then I thought better of it. I’d come all this way without even being caught, why risk it for a video? I should add at this point that somewhere along the way a sixth member of the team had been caught, so there were only two definite survivors. I’d also realised by this point that the person at the front seemed to be safest – the zombies could be quite slow in reacting to human noise so if you were at the front the chances were you would get past them before they were fully ‘alert’ and they’d go for those in the middle of the group.
Off we set with our riot-shield-carrying survivor when out of nowhere (ok, a bush) comes the very zombie who taught us at Zombie School (see here for a clip of him in action!). Our survivor holds him off with the riot shield and tells us to run… I didn’t hesitate for a second – I’d seen this guy move at Zombie School, he was bloody fast and bloody scary, so I sprinted, quite possibly the fastest sprint in my entire life, dodging other zombies as they emerged from other bushes… to safety.
Aaaah, safety, no more zombies, no risk of being caught…. I could finally relax, knowing that I DO have a chance of surviving a zombie apocalypse!
*After being a zombie a week later in this very zone I would say the more accurate number would be between 15 and 20, but whilst playing the game this looked like a LOT more!
To read about Zombie School please click here.
To read about my experiences as a zombie please click here.