Sometimes it takes a certain kind of game to realize just how evil and psychotic certain people, specifically me, can be.
Developer: Ndemic Creations
Platform: iOS, Android (reviewed), Windows Phone
Release: May 26, 2012 (iOS); October 4, 2012 (Android); May 13, 2015 (Windows)
Plague Inc. is a strategy game in which you are the driving force behind a, well, plague. Your goal is to evolve your disease in such a way as to completely infect and kill the entire human population.
The gameplay focuses almost purely on how you choose to evolve your disease. To do this, you enter a set of menus to spend DNA points on evolutions that are meant to help your disease survive, spread, and kill. You get these DNA points in various ways, such as letting your disease spread or kill, infecting new countries, or tapping little orange DNA bubbles. If you choose your evolutions wisely, you will soon find the entire globe at the mercy of your insidious disease. If not, then the world will soon discover it and develop a cure to eliminate it.
The interactivity within Plague Inc. is rather limited. All you really do is navigate menus and occasionally tap on any bubble that appears on screen. Most of the fun comes by way of watching the number of infections and deaths rise until the human race is no more. Because of the slow and strategic nature of this game, action-hero type gamers might be better off looking elsewhere.
If your plague succeeds, then you can unlock newer, more interesting types of diseases from viruses to parasites to nano-bots, each of which has a different set of quirks to make each game feel fresh.
In general, there are two main ways to win: either by slowly letting your plague infect the world unnoticed or by rapidly spreading it to the ends of the earth as you race the human’s cure research. There are also numerous different ways to evolve your plague, and you can choose among a myriad of different countries to start from, some of which give your disease extra benefits. All of these choices, plus the different types of diseases, contribute to some massive replayability.
Plague Inc. is the type of game in which most of the action takes place behind the scenes in the calculations. As such, pretty much all of the graphics are limited to the main world map and the different menus. While the map isn’t ugly, it’s also about what you might expect from any old NES or SNES game. At the very least, the graphics are crisp and clear enough to let you know what’s going on.
One neat thing of note graphically is how the world map changes as your plague spreads. Most of the landmass starts off green with some shades of yellow or white to denote climate, but as your little disease infects more and more people, the map will begin to fill red. Not only that, but it will start to get a little black as your plague begins to kill people off. It’s oddly satisfying to watch as the world gets covered in red, knowing that each and every person in it is doomed.
The music and sound effects are not much more impressive than the graphics. A very simple and slow song plays while you murder everyone. There’s not much more to say about the sound.
Plague Inc. is downloadable for the best price imaginable: a whopping $0.00 USD. You can spend a few bucks to unlock the “full” version, but all that really entails is the addition of some customization before each game session, the utility of the fast forward button, and the removal of some already unobtrusive ads. One nice thing is that while there are unlockables that you can get from buying the “full” version that may make things easier, I have been able to wipe the planet with nearly every disease type without using any of them. Honestly, the game is enjoyable enough to make me consider paying for it out of principle.
Plague Inc. (still not sure whether Inc. refers to Incorporated or Incoming, come to think of it) is a rather enjoyably little game for your smartphone that comes at no cost unless you want to spring for the extra bells and whistles. The gameplay is smart, fun, and oddly addicting, even if slow and actionless. The graphics are not altogether impressive, but they are helpful and clear. The sound could use a little work, but, as a smartphone game, you may be more likely to have it muted anyway. Overall it is a solid game to spend those boring minutes on the bus, train or toilet on.
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Score: 3 / 5