A tl;dr Haiku
Wipe out all humans.
With zombies and mind control.
Race against the cure.
Ever wanted to become a semi-sentient, always evolving super virus bent on utterly wiping out humanity, with no desire beyond plunging the world into a chaotic storm of death and despair? No? Just me? Well, there’s a slight chance that Plague Inc.: Evolved, an early-access indie strategy game by Ndemic Creations, could change your mind.
Gameplay 8.5 / 10
Plague Inc. is based around growing and fostering a disease with the ultimate aim of wiping out every human on earth. How the player goes about this depends on a number of things, the most immediately evident being the type of disease being used. The games starts off providing access to only bacteria-based plagues. Once humanity is wiped out with one type of plague, another becomes available. The types of plague have a good range to them. They cover everything from conventional plagues such as bacteria, viruses, and bio weapons, to less realistic sources of sickness such as malicious neural worms, nanobots, and even a zombie virus. While this does give some variety in play style, the differences between the modes aren’t as dramatic as I expected. With few exceptions, the base idea of growing a plague is to go unnoticed for as long as possible, before rapidly mutating the plague, using DNA points earned by spreading the plague to different countries and by causing fatalities, to be incredibly lethal.
The flavor of the different types of plague is interesting, but in function they are very similar. The reason there is a stock strategy is due to the nature of spreading sickness. It’s possible to mutate plagues in order to customize how they spread. The most common form is person-to-person. But, as the plague grows, humanity takes greater notice of it. They try to contain it, and cure it. Borders will close, the sick will be quarantined, and in some countries executed. The more dangerous the plague, the more dramatic the measures and the faster the cure is produced. When the disease mutates, it affects everyone afflicted, regardless of when they were infected. Aside from simply avoiding notice for as long as possible, making the plague too deadly too early runs the risk of killing off all its hosts, preventing any further spread.
Story NA / 10
There isn’t so much story in Plague Inc. as there is world-building. The top of screen includes a news ticker, giving updates on what’s going on in the world. These updates sometimes have an impact on game play, such as announcements concerning, say, foreign aid to poorer countries which will slow the spread of disease. Other times, they will simply be to contribute to the atmosphere of the game.
Most of the story is whatever self-narration the player crafts. After all, the player is given the option to name their own disease. The mood of the game shifts dramatically when instead of a country being wiped out by the super-virus, “PAX-002,” the world is brought to its knees, afflicted by “Massive Lady-Boners.”
Graphics and Art 7.5 / 10
The graphics are passable and not at all intense. The game is rarely comprised of more than a world map and small information bubbles; the look of the user interface is pleasing enough. There is a bit more detail put into a floating 3-D model of the plague cell currently in use, and that’s pretty cool, but there really isn’t a lot here to be impressed or disappointed with.
Plague Inc.: Evolved is quite a lot of fun. It’s also quite a time sink. Early stages of the disease can take a long time to spread, so there are periods of sitting around waiting to get to the meat of the game. Overall, I put THE Score at a solid 8.0 / 10. What particularly caught my attention with this game was, though the game is early-access, it feels very complete. I didn’t feel like I was getting a half-done product for the price I was paying. For what was, for lack of a better term, a pleasant surprise in that regard, I drop THE Hammer at 8.5 / 10. Solid recommendation.
THE Score(Critical): 8.0 / 10
THE Hammer (Personal): 8.5 / 10