Last night I participated in the third and final London installment of 2.8 Hours Later: a ‘zombie chase game’ where you and fellow survivors must move around parts of a city, interacting with characters, finding locations and most importantly — running from zombies.
If touched by a zombie, you must stop and be ‘marked’ with a pen as infected. I survived most of the game, but succumbed during the finale of the evening. My reward: getting made up in full zombie gore after finding the final checkpoint.
I don’t want to give too much away about how the game works, but I have possibly never been so terrified in my life. When I say running from zombies, this isn’t just the odd sprint: your heart is in your mouth and your lungs are burning. I’m a bit of a zombie purist and prefer the Romero-style shuffling as opposed to the ones that run, but for sheer terror you can’t beat zombies that can keep right up with you.
The event was quite an experience. The true genius of the concept is that you are let loose with other survivors right into the public sphere: avoiding zombies is one thing, but on a Saturday night in Southwark before Halloween working out the difference between fellow survivors, the general public, the odd vagrant and of course the zombies is quite a challenge.
Throughout the night you switch between game mode and public mode: in game mode, if you see a zombie, your basal instincts kick in: you run, shove, push to get away — and probably run faster then you’ve ever run before. But minutes later you revert back to normal behaviour: like checking both ways before crossing the road.
While moments of sheer terror were very short, a very tense (yet ultimately fun) atmosphere of suspense was in the air: partially because of this duality of thinking and having to switch between different mentalities very quickly, but also because you don’t know when that change is going to take place. Every corner, wall and bush was a potential ambush location for a cunning zombie.
By far the most positive part of the game was the camaraderie between the survivors. Everyone was playing the game together, slightly terrified yet all helping each other and having a great time overall.
Next year 2.8 Hours Later is planning to run again in more cities across the UK: if you want to do something different and be absolutely terrified, definitely give it a shot.