Plague Inc. Is So Deceptively Simple Looking, Yet Strangely Addictive.
When I started gaming, we had back in the '80s something called "Text Based Games." It is a term that some people in today's gaming generation might not understand. Plague Inc. is a pretty good example of the same kind of awesome game you can make without a big fancy engine or super high-end graphics. It's just a really solid game idea based heavily in text. It is an art I thought was lost in today's gaming culture.
Plague Inc. is a map and a simple interface for developing a virus and spreading it in different ways. That is where the simplicity ends though! This game is a real challenge, and it is strangely fun and addictive too. Very addictive. I played 6 straight hours, till 5am on a Friday night because I just had to beat the world and unlock the next scenerio. Trying to kill the world is more entertaining than you might think. As long as you don't take the game too seriously on the moral side of things.
It sounds simple enough to kill the world doesn't it? Well, it's not! The premise of the game is to eliminate all of humanity to win, but humanity fights back. See the cure bar in the bottom right-hand corner of the pic? That is humanity fighting you and if you are not smart about the way you develop, spread and kill people, humanity will spot you and mount a concerted effort to "eradicate" you, quickly.
That is just the map half of the game. The other half of this simple but beautifully well thought out game is in the designing of your bug. Your disease is highly evolutionary, and you can do many things with it. You can affect the transmission of it, symptoms and change its abilities.
The idea is, to create a highly contagious, but not too lethal (yet) plague. At least in the beginning that is the aim. You need to stay under the radar of the WHO (World Health Organization) and other health monitoring agencies while you develop your plague's abilities.
If you go in trying to kill everyone right off the bat, you will fail as you have to infect kill the entire world, not just some of them. All 7 billion of them. The country you invaded first will spot you while you are still in your weak stages if you develop symptoms (severity) too fast.
Humanity will start a cure and quickly make up for lost time and kill you if you rush it. If you are really bent on human annihilation, don't worry you will have your chance once the whole world is infected, and nobody healthy is left. It's all downhill for them from there. However, they can still bounce back if you don't keep working to be more lethal at this point.
DNA points are how you evolve your disease, and it gives you everything from better transmission to making it more resistant to drugs and other cure efforts. There are even options to develop your bug's resistance to cold and hot climates. They really thought of everything when developing this game.Then there is also the aspect of research and money. Some countries can resist mass infection because they are financially better off.
This game is very much like the real world, and it does very good job of giving you the feeling of "being the virus." Even news reports can help your progress and are a nice touch. This evolution mechanic along with the map, is a perfect example of simple, yet complex genius in gaming. It is even educational as it helps you understand man's tiniest and most deadly enemy. From the virus's perspective and yours, it is all about survival.
Casual mode is a great way to start off, and you might find it easy or maybe not. I died a few times, but eventually killed off everyone on the planet. To unlock more scenarios in the game however, you need to beat the world on Normal or Hard difficulty and I am telling you right now, that even normal difficulty is not nearly as easy as Casual setting was. Humanity fights that much harder when you up the difficulty setting.
As for unlocking the different scenerios, it goes like this. Start as a bacteria and successfully kill all of mankind on normal difficulty and that unlocks the virus scenerio. Viruses are harder control and mutate quickly. They can start killing before the virus is infectious enough, which is not good. That raises red flags with the country you started in. After that it is Fungus and so on. There many scenerios.
The true art of modern gaming is in it's true origins and it is origins are in text and storytelling. The words are what makes this game, beneath its graphical interface. My initial impression of Plague Inc. was that it harked back to a simpler, yet highly effective game style I have not seen in a while and is proof positive, that we can still make great games, without all the bells and whistles we have become used to lately.
I picked this title up on iTunes at the recommendation of a friend who loved it and for the low price of $1.00! Expansion packs apparently cost $7. I would say that I, without a shadow of a doubt, got my money's worth out of this great little title. Here is a parting gift I thought was a good, funny example of what you will be dealing with in Plague Inc. Our Healthcare is pretty good, but our high taxes make sure we pay for it too.
Update: Still trying to beat this game and still loving it. It is hardcore. It is my "go to" game when I can't decide what to play. I just say "Ahh, let's go kill the world with a bug today.?!"