And by “The Walk,” I of course mean the story-based fitness app by Zombies, Run creator Six to Start.
The Walk, as I understand it from the various blog posts, was created in large part to encourage people to get out and get walking. And unlike Zombies, Run, which (mostly) allows you to set how long you want a mission to be based on how long you’re running/walking or how far you’ve gone, The Walk so far appears to be pretty strictly time-based in that you have to walk for so many minutes to complete each episode… though it still needs to be able to detect that you’re moving, so no “leaving the phone on the charger while I exercise” for me.
Granted, the reason the app was created doesn’t really apply to me; I work one of those retail jobs where I’m on my feet and constantly moving around all day, so aside from occasionally procrastinating on a free day I more than manage the common suggestion of 10,000 steps per day. So I’m not into the app for the purpose of exercise; I’m into it for the story–which I can also obtain for free on various podcast apps (except possibly the audio clips that rely on scanning landscape features, more on that later)–and the gameplay element–which I cannot.
The gameplay element is where I’m running into trouble, and is the topic of this review/rant.
I started out sticking with the bodyweight workouts (Homefront, 4,000 Fathoms, and Negative Space) from the main Zombies Run app at night, after I got home from work and before I started getting ready for bed, and reserving any “running” missions for my days off from work so I can just… go outside and walk. Once I had finished those missions (barring the addition of more of the same type) I decided to switch to using The Walk for my after-work workout, meaning I’d basically just be pacing back and forth in my bedroom and periodically checking the screen to scan those landscape features whenever they’re in range. Doable, in theory; when I started out, taking the longer route when I had the option do so would take nearly an hour to complete, but I typically stay up late enough after getting home that there was no reason besides procrastination that I couldn’t spend that time exercising.
But the missions start getting longer. Some of the missions take an hour, an hour and a half, two hours even, and that’s when you choose the short path. The next plan, therefore, was to split these up among multiple nights and repeat them as I deem necessary.
Only… that’s where I started seeing problems.
On Tuesday I started that plan, doing only half an hour (give or take) of episode 3 taking the long path and then closed the app, planning to finish the episode (roughly another half hour) on Wednesday night and then repeat it on short mode on my day off on Thursday to earn the “finish within 24 hours” and “finish with less than 3 hours inactivity” achievements.
But on Wednesday, before I even made it to my first break at work I’d gotten a notification saying that I’d completed the episode.
Okay, since my car likes to auto-open whatever audio file I’d been using most recently (still trying to find out how to disable that option), maybe it registered that the app was technically running when I was at work even though I’d closed it the night before and had never opened it again myself.
So Wednesday night I decided to try to test a new theory: do part of an episode, close the app that night, and see (without involving anything bluetooth that might try to auto-start the app) if it decides to run when I don’t want it to.
I reset my progress and began Wednesday with the first episode again, ending my session with “28 minutes to go” (long route)
In theory I should’ve been able to go all day Thursday with the app stuck at that same time.
But after doing a session of Ring Fit Adventure (with my phone in my pocket for the purpose of this test), I discovered that the app had, in fact, progressed along the route.
Clearly some part of this app was running in the background when I didn’t want it to. (One of my biggest gripes about how phone systems work. Way too many apps that are designed to run in the background when they have no business doing so, and closing the app doesn’t actually “close” the app like you’d expect it to on a computer.)
So the next step in my experiment was to simply force-stop the app so that it would, in theory, no longer be running in the background. (If the previous plan had worked, I’d still be doing this whenever I have to drive anywhere due to the car’s tendency to auto-start apps. According to the settings of some of the apps that do this, it’s supposedly a bluetooth thing, but I’ve never seen it happen when I turn on my headphones so there’s clearly some connection to the car’s bluetooth function that I’m missing.)
And then I set out to run some errands, dropping off more donations to the local thrift store, buying ingredients so I can try some recipes I found for air-fryer hand pies, and force-stopping the app every single time it started when the car did.
And despite that care, I still got a notification telling me I’d completed the mission.
At this point, it looks like the only way I’m going to be able to get the gameplay elements out of this one is if I actually watch my phone while I’m going for a walk outdoors, but since my two days off per week are my Zombies Run time I’d have to set the app to not auto-play clips when they’re unlocked and just listen to them when I get back. Unfortunately that doesn’t disable the “ringing phone” and similar audio-based landscape features from playing; on Wednesday I’d made sure to wait until I found that particular item so I could test it before shutting down for the night, and it started playing as soon as I “scanned” the item.
I suppose I could also see if shaking the phone while I’m on the exercise bike will make it think I’m walking, seeing as simply using the bike doesn’t jostle it enough for the app to detect my motion. That would at least give me the benefit of letting me watch the screen when I’m not already trying to watch the road. But we’re still talking some fairly long episodes as I move further along in the story, which means I may still need to split up episodes and use the app multiple times per day.
Or maybe I could do part of a mission one night after work and finish it the next morning if and only if I start it the night before a day off from work… which means only doing it twice a week instead of every day that I’m not doing Zombies Run.
I gotta tell you, though… I’m halfway tempted to just download the podcast and listen to the story that way, remove the app, and spend my few hours between getting home from work and going to bed just reading. And maybe doing a few reps of sit-ups if I feel the need to exercise. At least until they decide they should add more bodyweight exercises to Zombies, Run.
It just seems like my work schedule and the way the app works makes the gameplay element more complicated than it needs to be.
The only reason I’m only “halfway” tempted is because I somehow doubt that the hidden story from those “ringing phone” landscape features is included in the podcast.
Anybody else use The Walk run into these problems? Has anybody found a solution that works for them?