It’s up to you to control the spread of a disease with the goal of wiping out the human race, but you’ll have to be smart about it because the human race isn’t going to go down without a fight.
I was pretty excited when I found out about a game that let you slowly control a zombie plague as it spread throughout the world, not to mention all the other plagues I could play around with as I ended human life on the planet Earth. I of course started out with the zombie virus because it would be sacrilegious for a member of the living dead to play a game that gave you full control of the pathogen causing a zombie outbreak and not start there. That’s when the panic set in and I finally understood why Plague Inc. was released. I’d heard rumors about how much the CDC praised this game for raising public awareness about disease and how it spreads, but I didn’t understand the full scope of what was going on until I loaded up the zombie plague and realized that it gave a step by step guide on how to not only watch for the spread of a zombie outbreak, but stop it before it can get out of control. The CDC and the undead have a long history of hating each other, going all the way back to their use of malaria as a way to hide their operations rounding up zombies. They think they’ve managed to get away with it, that zombiekind won’t see exactly what they’re doing. Well this zombie noticed exactly what was going on, and you’d better bet I’m going to be getting the rest of my undead brothers and sisters together to bring down the wrath of a unified zombiekind. I just need to beat the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Plague Inc. level first. Then I’m going to get right on it.
In Plague Inc. you are tasked with using any number of diseases to wipe out all human life on the planet. You start off by infecting just a single person in a country of your choosing, a patient zero that will spread a specific disease throughout the nations of Earth. Each disease can be evolved with traits that will increase its infectivity, its severity, and its lethality, but you’ll have to evolve it wisely because the entire time you are trying to infect and destroy humanity they are working on a cure to stop you. The key is in making your disease just infectious enough to spread throughout the world without becoming severe or lethal enough to scare the population into working too hard on curing it, infect the entire population before they’ve managed to come up with a cure and you’re very close to a win. You’re end goal is definitely to end the human race, you simply have to be smart in accomplishing that, make it too severe before everyone is infected and the people will become so scared they’ll put all they’re efforts into curing it, make it too lethal and people might die off too fast to spread the infection to everyone. There are three ways you can evolve your virus, transmission, symptoms, and abilities. Transmission will help you spread the disease by making it water or airborne, transferable between people and animals, birds, or insects, and causing blood to become infectious. Symptoms are the effects your disease has on a person and can have a varying array of traits, anything from helping with infection rates to causing lethal reactions. You can even evolve symptoms to slow down future research into curing the sickness. Abilities vary wildly depending on the disease you choose to start with but generally have to do with what kind of environments your disease can survive in and ways to evolve it to combat cure research. In order to evolve the disease you’ll need DNA points, these you earn through causing new countries to become infected or by popping DNA bubbles that appear all over the map screen. Be smart and evolve your disease to be a killer like none other in recorded history, but play it smart, evolving the traits you need at the right time or your disease might just be a footnote in the history books.
How you play is also going to be determined by which game you decide to play and which disease you use as your agent of the apocalypse. There are two modes in which you will either pick out a certain disease and have a go at humanity or choose from a specific scenario and three specific diseases that will require vastly different game types:
- The standard mode lets you pick a generalized factor of disease, bacteria, virus, fungus, parasite, prion, nano-virus, and bio-weapon. You’ll choose one at the start of a game and try to use it to kill humanity, but each one requires a very different set of strategies. Bacteria is the easiest one to use and an almost guaranteed win each time since bacteria are the easiest to evolve and the most versatile. The virus is a bit more difficult since it mutates so rapidly you are on a constant watch to keep it under your control, but don’t worry, if it mutates you can spend DNA points to devolve it to a previous level. Fungus operate as spores that move at an extremely slow rate, causing you to think more about how to get it around the globe than how it’s going to kill. Prion is a brain pathogen that is the most complex in the game by far, having a very specific set of evolutionary traits you will have to watch closely in order to guide correctly, one misstep and the game is over. Parasite, nano-vivrus, and bio-weapon are all pretty self-explanatory, parasite has you controlling an organism that feeds off of a human, nano-virus’s main problem is killing the human race before they flip the kill switch on the nano-bots, and bio-weapon works extremely quick, causing almost instant death. You start out with only bacteria available to you and unlock subsequent disease by successfully wiping out humanity with the disease preceding it.
- Scenarios are specific situations that will be given for you to conquer such as using a resurgence of the Black Death, a newly discovered strain of the nipah virus, or small pox to scrub the planet clean of humans. Most don’t involve specific diseases but instead force you into dealing with a specified set of circumstances like a few that had a stronger humanity more resistant to disease in one way or another, such as people that had access to better healthcare or artificial organs. Others set you on an earth facing different problems such as higher temperatures, darkened skies, grounded flights, or lack of water transportation. One even has you using a parasitic worm to make people happy after Earth’s governments decide that no human should be happy. The hardest of the scenarios were the ones in which you weren’t allowed to choose which country to start out in, the game would choose it for you. There are almost two dozen scenarios to go through so you don’t have to worry about being bored.
- The Neurax Worm mode pertains to a parasitic brain worm that tries to take control of humanity’s mind in order to further propagate its species. In this mode you’ll be able to evolve your worm in such a fashion that you can actually control people infected to travel to uninfected countries, thus furthering your ability to control the world.
- Dawn of The Planet of the Apes is a newer movie tie in mode that was only added recently. In this mode you control the Simian Flu as it destroys humanity and creates hyper-intelligent apes set to begin their own society to replace the coming vacancy on Earth. You’ll need to not only work at infecting and eliminating humanity but improving the intelligence and adaptability of the apes the Simian Flu is affecting as well.
- Necroa mode is the main reason I downloaded Plague Inc., the necroa virus being the name of the zombie disease for the game. It’s a bit different in that you aren’t immediately bringing back the dead, something that added a lot of strategy and thought to this mode. Your main goal at first is just getting as many people infected as possible, simply infecting people won’t immediately kill them, giving you more time to evolve the disease before actually bringing forth the zombie apocalypse. You just need to bide your time, spreading the disease further and further until it’s time to evolve the bodily reanimation ability. You’ll still have to watch and control the disease though because humanity will be looking for ways to stop its spread and end the zombie menace.
With so many different ways to play it’s impossible to get bored with Plague Inc. considering how many times you’re going to have to change up you strategy. It keeps it diverse. I loved playing one type and then having to completely switch things up for the next one. You really have to think about how you’re going to evolve your disease and it was a delicate balance getting just the right infectivity without making the public too alarmed before you are able to finally evolve it to kill and wipe humans out. The map is set up like a geographical map of the world so you can see exactly how your disease progresses. You can also check out the world graph to see which countries are the most infected and how much effort is being put into finding a cure, so you can really pay attention to how the sickness is doing. The one problem I could see was in screen size. Plague Inc. is mainly a phone game available for both Androids and iPhones. I have an Android with a fairly large screen and even I had trouble differentiating the countries from each other, on a smaller screen it might be damn near impossible. Luckily the news stories that pop up are easily readable. As you play through the game, different news stories will scroll across the screen, some with useful information about the world’s reaction to your disease, some just humorous fake stories to make you smile. The informative ones are helpful, but the humorous ones were my favorite, giving me a wry smile in between my quest to rid the world of humans.
Screen issues aside, Plague Inc. was a fun game that has provided hours of fun and is still doing so. It’s a dollar download unless you want a stripped down version and some of the modes are extra to download, but the it’s well worth getting the full game and the extras. You can’t go wrong with Plague Inc.
The Undead Review
Developed By: Ndemic Creations
Platform: Android, iPhone, Windows Phone
Release Date: 2012
Rotten Heads: Four Heads Out of Five