Plague Inc. – a microscopic strategy on iOS

by Lisy Kane

Plague Inc.

Platform: iOS

Genre: Strategy

Publisher: Ndemic Creations

Developer: Ndemic Creations

Price: $0.99

The year is 2012 and a mysterious Pax-12 bacterium has begun showing up in South Africa, Morocco and Iceland – experts reassure us that it’s harmless, but two years later, the world governments have fallen and New Zealand is burying its dead.

Plague Inc. is a grim iOS strategy game released earlier this year by Ndmeic Creations and simulating a worldwide reaction to the release of a contagion. As the game starts, you play as bacteria but you can later upgrade to virus, fungus, parasite, prion, nanovirus and finally bio-weapons.

Skipping the “How To” section, I was almost able to get through the first level (albeit flying blind). My second play through saw me starting to think more strategically than my first clumsy attempt. Ndemic have developed a realistic simulation that also contains the components of an engaging strategy. For me, it was one of those games that makes you think “okay, how am I going to do better next time?” after finishing a round.

After choosing the first country you wish to infect, you poke and prod at your creation determining its destructive path in a godlike fashion. How will the bacteria be transmitted? Bird flu is so 2011, so maybe there’ll be a revamp of the black plague? You choose it all.

As I played Plague Inc, it was quite surreal cheering on my petri dish of doom and watching the number of deaths click over into billions. As each choice you make does impact on the way the contagion behaves, there were some moments in the game that progressed slowly. Being iOS-supported, games like this generally need to be highly engaging for a short period of time for on-the-go entertainment – so the slow-burning moments may lose some of the players.

Following the launch of Plague Inc., a number of controversies arose around the alleged similarities between the game and fellow iOS title Pandemic 2.5. IGN’s Justin Davis was quick to provide his opinion on the matter, stating that this isn’t a lone example of similar games on the market – especially on iOS. And while Plague Inc. certainly does appear to have a number of similarities with the competitor, its playability speaks for itself and shouldn’t deter the player from enjoyment.

Surprisingly, Plague Inc. is the debut title for first-time developer James Vaughan, who started the game as a hobby. In July, just seven weeks from its launch, over one million units have been sold from the Apple Store alone, with Ndemic hoping to spread the virus to the Android marketplace.

Following on from the successful launch, Ndemic are currently planning for their next expansion which will include the Neurax Worm. As well as featuring a new disease to control, Ndemic have responded to user-based feedback and will include an interface update and the option for the player to choose their own music. This expansion (dubbed Mutation 1.3) will also give players the ability to “modify genetic code” and customise the way you play the game, as well as enable the buffs that can be unlocked by playing the game.

I will be looking forward to the next offering from Ndemic Creations and will continue to work my way up to the bio weapons.  Plague Inc. is a great game for those who enjoy a well thought out strategy with many different elements of play. It has a wide difficulty range so will appeal to gamers of different skill level and with the ability to save your game, those on the run can continue on later. I would also recommend it to those who just want to watch the world burn.

by Lisy Kane

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