Running for dear life to escape The Hulk might seem like an average day for Betty Ross, but when you're actually in the same boat as she is, the struggle (and fear of death) is real. While gamified experiences often infuse a more interactive level of immersion into any activity, Marvel Move does so with a dash of comic book geekery on a quest for overall fitness.
The gamified running app is a true treat for any Marvel fan, but is it worth shelling out a few bucks for a subscription, or should you just run your own pace without it?
The way this works is that the Marvel Move app will always be on top of all your other apps (you'll need to give the app permission to do this, of course), and after a snippet of the audio story plays, you'll then automatically switch to your external player where your playlist of choice will follow.
Now, the thing about this set-up is that it can be pretty jarring to have Thor and Loki bickering in your ear one moment and then have Taylor Swift belting out her upbeat tunes the next. I would've appreciated it more if the app actually had its own background music (like a cool battle theme to pump up the jam), just so the immersion doesn't stop each time a chapter ends.
The app also logs your distance and route as you're running, and along the way, you can pick up some random collectables ranging from important McGuffins to the story to random junk like event flyers and a slice of pizza. You can also pick up some supplies as you progress through each story, and these can be used to trade for cool trophies with Squirrel Girl (keys to the X-Jet for a mere 10 Krakoan flowers? Yes, please).
Of course, while all these sound pretty cool on paper, one of my biggest gripes with the app is that you have to have your mobile phone on your person while you're running because otherwise, it won't log your distance - and this isn't always the most convenient thing when you're running indoors on a treadmill. While other running apps can connect to a fitness band to make things more convenient, Marvel Move doesn't have the same feature. Even odder is that you can still pick up collectables even when you're standing completely still - not exactly the best way to motivate you to keep moving.
You can still listen to them without moving an inch, which, to me, defeats the purpose of having the app accompany you on your fitness adventure. I would've appreciated it more if the story didn't actually progress to the next bit if you're only standing still - this, at least, should push you to actually make some distance if you want to know what happens next. It also would've been more motivating if there were rewards for hitting certain distances as well.
As for the stories themselves, they're composed of 30-minute sessions that give you plenty of reasons to run (like Wolverine telling you to run from the Sentinels if you don't want to be fried to a crisp). X-Men: Age of Orchis was pretty fun, while Hulkville was a little lacklustre for me. Thor and Loki: Trials of the Ten Realms was, in my opinion, the coolest and most entertaining of the bunch - for one thing, the voice acting is just absolutely superb, and for another, the adventure is actually really, really fun.
I can't stress how stellar the performances here are - it really does make all the difference when it comes to getting fully invested in the story. This, to me, is the highlight of the app, because I could honestly listen all day to Thor and Loki's misadventures even without the fitness component.
There are two variants of this story, with one tailored to more experienced runners and the other a beginner's guide to fitness. The beginner version is absolutely genius, in my opinion, because it incorporates the exercise into the narrative itself. For instance, at one point, Thor will ask you to do heel lifts because you need to step on some sentient slime, while Loki, at another point, will ask you to run with all your might because your energy and speed will propel the boat they're on forward.
My favourite is when Thor forces you to go through an Asgardian obstacle course where a certain section is modelled after one of the most terrifying aspects of Midgard life (or so they believe), which is to run after the bus you're supposed to get on to make it in time for work.
Every so often, you'll also receive emails from the characters across all stories, which is a nice little touch to mark the end of each workout sesh.