MSRP: $14.99 (PC / XBox One), $0.99 with in app purchases (mobile platforms)
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, XBox One, iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Plague Inc. has been through about as much evolution as the infections in the game – originally designed for iPhone, it was a success out of the gate. It was then ported for other mobile devices, and finally, in 2014, a computer version was released in early access on Steam and for XBox One. Finally, after more than a year, it officially launched on Steam on February 18th, 2016 with the addition of the co-operative mode.
The premise is simple – you play as a plague, and your goal is to destroy humanity. You decide where your plague will begin, and you use DNA point to evolve your plague in order to increase its infectivity, severity, and lethality. Increase severity too quickly, and the people of the world will be racing to find a cure. Increase lethality to quickly, and you risk all your carriers dying off before the infection spreads to the whole world. There’s a decent amount of strategy here, with the mutations you select (or don’t select) with your limited DNA points determining how the plague is spread and what symptoms it causes.
Single player options include a tutorial mode, a fairly lengthy main campaign (where you need to successfully complete a game with a given plague type in order to unlock the next) with four difficulty levels, more than a dozen official scenarios, and the ability to import custom scenarios through the Steam workshop. There is also a “speed run” mode where the goal is to eradicate humanity as quickly as possible.
There are also two multiplayer options – a versus mode where your goal is to infect the world before your opponent, and a cooperative mode where each player controls their own plague, but humanity is stronger than in single player. For those who enjoy competitive or co-operative play, this is reason alone to purchase the computer or console version over one of the mobile options.
Plague Inc. is a rare game for me, in that I’ve paid for it twice. I purchased it through the Amazon appstore for my Kindle tablet (as well as paying separately for the additional scenarios), and I purchased it again for PC. It’s a surprisingly fun game considering the entire purpose is to kill everyone. It was well-made enough that the Center for Disease control invited the game’s creator to speak on the way that video games can help draw attention to public health issues on a larger scale.
Oh, and you’re going to want to keep a close eye on Greenland. Trust me.