Plague, Inc: Spreading worldwide contagion and chaos on your smartphone.
Last week I caught a cold; it started on Tuesday night with a sore throat and the morning after I felt all stuffed up and sneezy. Naturally I spent the entire rest of the week pissing and moaning about this minor infection as if it were the end of the world.
But then I discovered a game that actually does simulate something like an apocalyptic health risk when I downloaded Plague, Inc for my Samsung.
The mobile game Plague, Inc allows you to manipulate the very DNA of pathogens including bacteria, viruses and even biological weapons in a bid to wipe out the world’s population.
Players earn DNA points by spreading the disease and can then spend them on new and wicked ways to infect more citizens through different modes of symptom generation and transmission traits. Try to get as much of the world map to glow red as you can before those pesky humans start working on a cure for you.
Tips come in the form of a news ticker informing you of recent developments in other countries, giving you an idea of where to try and spread the sickness, as well as in slightly annoying sound effects like buzzing insects and in-flight plane announcements.
Since the game was originally released on smartphones in 2012 a new version called Evolved is now available on Steam, such was its success upon release that its creator gave a talk at the US Centre for Disease Control, who went on to praise its “non-traditional route to raise public awareness”. It hasn’t done too badly for itself as a runner-up for IGN’s Game of the Year 2012 award for Overall Best Strategy Game.
The interface is really easy to use, allowing players to skip quickly between menus to work out what next to spend their points on. I also really like the music; drone-like haunting music like you’d get in your typical bio-disaster movie warning of impending doom. But it all comes together to give a certain feeling that I didn’t expect I’d ever want from a game.
Few games make me feel like a real Bond villain; Plague Inc. has made me realise that this is something I’m very interested in experiencing in my games. While games I love like Fallout 3 give me the option of taking the bad guy route, blowing up Megaton and killing do-gooders, I’ve still never been able to take the moral low road. That’s probably due to the realistic human side of the game which Plague, Inc. does not possess. In first-person games you’ll actually see the damage that you do but with a simulation like this it’s much easier just to look at the numbers and, on a fundamental level, know that you’re a bad ass germ with nothing to lose.
And how could you not be when there’s livestock to infect, symptoms to mutate and abilities to thrive in any weather condition? Plague Inc. is a very well-made game with a certain evil charm to it which I can’t get enough of at the moment.