Plague Inc is a game for Android and iOS which puts you in the shoes (or whatever a Deity wears) of a plague creator. The aim is to eradicate humans from the world by means of your plague.
You begin with only bacteria, and a few ‘DNA’ points. DNA points can be spent upgrading your plague. The upgrades are in three areas: Transmission, Symptoms and Abilities.
Transmission encompasses the transmission vectors of your plague. Everything from airborne to vermin. You can have multiple tranmission vectors to help your plague spread more quickly. Before you can wipe people out, they have to get the plague, after all.
Symptoms are the effects your plague will produce. There is a whole range of symptoms that you can choose from that range from coughs to blistering sores to heart failures. One thing to bear in mind is that the more symptoms your plague has, the more easily it will be noticed (and deemed a threat) and the more money will be piled into research for a cure. Also, if you go really overboard it may become “scary” and then the research will really kick into top gear.
Abilities are things such as how well your plague can survive in various climates, how resistant it is to antibiotics, or how easily it rearranges itself to avoid easy sequencing or detection. Once a cure is being developed, these things may help slow that down enough for you to complete your goal.
You start with a map of the world and can choose a country to start your plague in, with one person infected. Things such as the environment, amount of urban vs rural and how connected your country is to other countries helps determine how well your plague will spread over your start country, and to other countries.
Once your plague is noticed, not only do they start working on a cure but various countries will do their best to protect themselves. Borders will be shut, mass graves dug, perhaps even the infected will be executed. I’ve seen one country come out on top by executing the plague victims after their borders were shut. I couldn’t seem to reinfect them, and I lost!
Damn you Greenland!
As your plague spreads, you get DNA points. For a newly infected country a red bubble appears, which you can pop for more DNA points. Orange bubbles occur in infected countries as it spreads and yield more DNA points. When a cure is being worked on, you may see a plane or boat carrying the current version of the cure. When it reaches it’s destination a blue bubble appears that you can pop to slow down research.
As well as upgrading your plague with the DNA points, mutations can occur randomly (and sometimes more frequently depending on what abilities your plague has). You can also ‘de-evolve’ a trait to get some (few) DNA points back.
A whole lot of strategy is involved, and there are a lot of ways you can play the game by building your plague. The more it spreads, the more likely it is to be noticed. However, you also want it to spread so you have more people infected. You want to make it deadly (to achieve your goal) but not too quickly or the virus will be noticed; but leave it too late and a cure will be found before you’ve killed everyone off.
If you successfully complete a game on Normal or above then the next type of plague (virus) is unlocked, as are some of the genes you can splice into your plague DNA before you begin. These can give things such as extra DNA points to give you a boost at the start.
This gives you a new ‘toy’ to play with, to try to wipe the world out again. And again.
On ‘casual’, I beat the game first time. On Normal it took me two games to win, and I haven’t won since – I’ve been playing with strategies.
It’s an involved game, and one that you can spent a lot of time on. Luckily you can exit and your progress is saved, so you don’t have to finish it in one sitting.
Having said that, I’ve usually finished each game in one sitting simply because it is so involving. There’s a lot to keep track of, but the interface is mostly well enough designed that that’s easy enough to do. The only real gripe I have is that successfully selecting some countries, even on a 10″ tablet, can involve a few taps in the right general area. You are able to zoom into the map to make it easier, but when there’s a lot going on, that makes it easy to miss events in other parts of the world.
I’m really enjoying this game, and given I have it on my tablet and my phone, I’m managing to find time to play it more than I should. That’s probably praise in itself.