Night of the living dead: Ultimate zombie apocalypse experience Asylum haunts streets of Manchester

By Danielle Wainwright

“There is literally no greater pleasure in life than seeing a petite five foot odd girl chase a muscle bound gym monkey screaming for his mother down the road.”

That’s according to James Wheale of award-winning company Slingshot who prepare to launch their terrifying real-life zombie apocalypse game Asylum in Manchester tonight.

With the success of their 2.8 Hours Later franchise, which has been played by more than 20,000 people since its 2010 launch, Slingshot have created an ultimate zombie experience more terrifying and sinister than ever before.

Given a secret location only available to participants, players battle the impending threat of the living dead with tough decisions to make against the ‘corrupt’ police and ‘brutal’ vigilantes lurking in the shadows.

Could you surrender a close friend to save your own skin? Would you admit to a zombie bite if it risked infecting the rest of the group? These are just some of the choices that will be faced on this year’s tough zombie apocalypse.

James has high hopes for the event in Manchester, with 1500 fans expected, and explains the hard work and dedication that goes into planning such a monstrous event.

“Each city gets unique scenes and choices, meaning that returning players from different cities get more than just a new route,” he said.

“It has taken years of trial and error to successfully marry up the narrative to the gameplay. We spent months rethinking 2.8 Hours Later, researching everything from the emergency services’ H5N1 bird flu quarantine response plan to World War Two rationing plans.

“We were very keen to create a ‘real’ environment for our players, one that departed from the inconsistent or slightly B-movie clichés of previous incarnations.

“We get a lot of love in Manchester – every city’s reaction is different but always positive. Manchester has such a superb set of back alleys and labyrinths that the routes always come out magic.”

When you first enter Asylum, the infection is at its peak and UK cities have been isolated by the government, however these measures soon fail and the safe zone becomes infested with both dead and living shady characters.

This year will also see a debut of Slingshot’s prototype bio-sensing technology, to measure the impact the game has on players, enabling the team to draw up fear maps that will aid game design and route planning.

A reflection of the current economic turmoil co-founders Simon Evans and Simon Johnson felt that zombies best reflected the ‘numbing’ of opportunity for the British people in the wake of the cuts.

Simon (Evans) said: “We felt it was the right time to give the game an overhaul. On one level, we’ve had to introduce new safety features and so wanted to re-design the fear factor to counter that.

“But we also wanted to address the deeper economic and political crisis the country is facing.

“The zombie apocalypse was inspired by a return to Tory cuts and the misery they brought. Now we’re almost four years on and we’re still in recession.

“The zombie infection is the recession, and the culpability, corruption, greed and violence it engenders is the world we live in now.”

Surprisingly, in an industry dominated by male leads in big budget zombie flicks, James admits that it is women that beat the boys for scares.

“Girl zombies are the best,” he said. “Not that we play favourites or anything but if you’re talking about girl power, 2.8 girl zombies own the Spice Girls any day.”

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Picture courtesy of Slingshot, with thanks

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