Heavily inspired by the classic 'destroy-the-world' game Pandemic, Plague Inc [99¢] will either make you (a) feel like a horrible human being, (b) chortle malevolently at your iOS device of choice, or (c) vacillate violently between the two.

Ndemic Creations' new strategy game is one that comes with a simple objective. As a fledgling pathogen, one that initially starts life ill-equipped to do anything but migrate from one sneeze to another, it is your job to make humanity go the way of the Dodos. No one is to be left alive.

It's a strangely unnerving venture. When you first start up the game, you'll be delivered on a rather realistic-looking world map. From there, you'll then be called upon to select a country of origin before you're permitted to patiently incubate within the unsuspecting inhabitants. As you begin infecting more and more individuals, your pool of DNA points (it's the currency utilized by unicellular fiends, you see) will slowly increase. As you might have guessed already, that's where the magic start.

A tap on the menu button labeled 'Disease' will lead you to an overview of your little menace. There are three areas in which you can spend your DNA points: transmission (Want to be the new avian flu? No problem!), symptoms (Yes, you can turn your unfortunate victims into tumor-riddled, paranoid lepers if you want to.) and abilities (In general, this is where you go to do things like increase your resistance to the cold and effectiveness against rich people's hypochondria). Each time you 'evolve' a new attribute, you'll be able to unlock further elements within that tree. Purchasing the 'sneezing' symptom, for example, will eventually allow you to incite total organ failure.

Take heed, budding bacterium. DNA points aren't easy to acquire. The only way to get them is through devolving characteristics (you'll only get a flat rate of 2 DNA points out of that) and infecting or killing human beings. Given the fact that there are only a finite number of homo sapiens in the world, this can make things rather tricky. Splurging on transmission methods may render you as mild as mother's milk while an overzealous focus on lethality may leave you incapable of dealing with humanity's attempts to find a cure to you.

That's also where the (foul) magic lies. Plague Inc is a balancing act, a test of your foresight and your decision-making skills. When the human race finally takes notice of the fact that eight million people are suddenly afflicted with a potentially fatal ailment and rush towards achieving a cure, do you pour your DNA points into slowing their research or do you attempt to kill them where they stand? It's harder than it sounds but it's also deeply, deeply satisfying.

Seriously. There's nothing quite like watching as the scarlet of infection spreads across the globe, slowly transforming the verdant green lands into a ruby-red cesspool of germs - ahem.

The audiovisual presentation is largely minimalistic. Most of your time in the game will be spent either building your Doomsday microbe, analyzing trends in world data or staring at planes and ships as they cart their contents across the world. As you might have already guessed, the colors on the map will change depending on how well your pandemic is doing. While red is an indication of infection, the amount of black you see on your screens will tell you how many have fallen.

There's an impressive amount of playability to the whole thing. Asides from three difficulty levels, you'll also be eventually be able to take on the role of a virus or a parasite or even a biological weapon. Sadly, there is no multiplayer to speak of just yet.

Plague Inc doesn't deviate very far from the formula set by its spiritual predecessor. In fact, anyone who has played Pandemic will probably feel completely at home here (arguably the biggest change here is the sporadic manifestation of little 'bubbles' you can pop in order to acquire additional DNA points or to slow research). Nonetheless, it's also impossible not to want to provide hearty recommendations anyway. Plague Inc will snag your attention in all the right ways and keep it there long after you've come to terms with the fact you'll be indirectly responsible for human testing.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Adams Immersive

    It looks like the real Pandemic is on the App Store too, or at least Pandemic 2. (I see “Pandemic 2.5” by Dark Realm Studios. Is that the one?) It might be worth considering that instead, if this is really a highly similar clone. Might be worth a link in the article too.

    (I can’t compare them, having played neither, but I tend to favor originals, especially if only minor trappings have been added. Both do look fun!)

    • oooooomonkey

      Ive played both and while the original is usually best in this case the clone is way better.
      The real pandemic had no tutorial and is real slow paced with little to no interaction,
      Where as plague is much easier to use and understand.

      • Ben Ruddock

         Agreed, bought both and Plague Inc is much better optimised for iOS and a lot more fun too.

    • Maniacfive

      I own both and Plague Inc is the superior game. Pandemic 2.5 is largely impenetrable. Tbh it's not a great port. Doesn't play to iOS's strengths. It is unfair to describe plague inc as a clone. Derivative yes, clone no.

    • SLR_677_RCD

      personally I prefered pandemic 2.5, After playing both it looked like plague inc was just a cash grab done by building off the complaints players had for pandemic, However wherever pandemics strenghts were (such as detail) I found plague inc very lacking. Not that plague inc is not a good game it is very fun,although I also found it far to easy when compared to pandemic (but people did complain about pandemic being to hard; personally I enjoy the challenge) ,Overall I feel that once pandemic paches it will be the better of the.

      as for the no tutorial mentioned below, both games have little to no tutorial because the idea is to figure out how to wipe out the race useing your own intelligence. The game mechanics in both are very simple

      • Coseo

        In every way I agree with you. The origional pandemic game was complained at for many things involving difficulty, such as the origional issue of the island of madagascar. The difficulty of infecting that island inspired many comments such as " In the case of a world wide pandemic, im going to madagascar before they close their ports." Many comments on this section proclaim that Plague inc. is a better game simply because it is easier. But the difficulty of the origional game was one of the things that made it so unique. When playing on "Realistic mode" It really made you have to think. You could get caught with your virus without any symptoms unless you played it safer than ever and used the sneakiest type of disease to start with - but on "Brutal" difficulty in plague inc. i beat it on the first try with the starting type of illness simply by letting the disease infect everyone while selling my symptoms to make my disease indetectable, and then buying lethal symptoms once i had infected the entire world. This would often not work in the origional, making you have to involve new strategies unless you played with a sneakier type of virus, in which case this sometimes worked. I liked having to try to beat a game. 

  • SystemX

    One important thing to note is that once you discover the correct balance for which you can wipe out the world, that's it! There is no real challenge or replay value. Sure you can mix up some of the symptoms and things for fun but once you find it, then it becomes quite easy to repeat victories.

    • http://twitter.com/ktern Brady

      Are there multiple "solutions", though? It might be fun to take a different approach to victory.

    • agentblank

      The different types of diseases require different startegies sometimes and it's fun to find the wuickest and most effective method of killing everyone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-D-Dunn/679068624 James D. Dunn

    I don't know about the "one" way, I am having a heck of a time on Fungus. Just doesn't want to move. Great game and the first time I killed the earth, I really didn't know how to feel. Yah, I won.... but Geez, I just killed everyone on the Earth.

    • Ryan Bach

      I'm having the same issue.  The only way it spreads fast enough is if I dump TONS of dna into transmission and heat/cold/drug resistances, but then I can't afford enough lethality when the time comes to outrace the cure.  I've infected every country a couple times, but never wiped 'em all out before the cure.

      • http://www.facebook.com/michael.orth.927 Michael Orth

        Hi,

        the key to fungus is (actually I don't know if this is valid for the other types, too, never tried) that no cure research is started as long there are no symptoms. So do not evolve any symptoms and you MUST de-evolve every mutation. As long as you do that, time has no influence at all and you can spread the disease.

        Best thing to start is using four spore bursts. Most of the spent DNA you get back directly for infecting new countries. With a little luck you cover several continents and types of countries (rich/poor, cold/hot).

        As time doens't matter, you don't need to spend too many DNA for the transmission types (and none on cold/heat resistance). Birds should be done (also second level), because there's a good chance of bird migration in this level. Toming is important - not too early (effect would bee too weak), not too late (so you can infect several new countries).

        At least in my game it was important that EVERY country had to be infected before taking further actions. This can be a bit tricky though, as mostly islands like new zealand, madagascar adn new guinea had been left at the end.

        If you reached this, there will be another problem: not enough DNA left (and not enough further income to expect) for both slowing down the cure research (which will be pretty quick as nobody is dead - yet) and evolving a really lethal symptom. So just ensure that a) at least the first level of drug resistance is active and b) you have enough DNA left for ONE really lethal symptom.

        The last problem I faced: Even when all countries are infected, you have to wait until there are hardly any healthy people left. Becuse aou have to launch the lethal symptom quite quickly, and when a country still is in the process of getting infected, the highly lethal symptom will eradicate all hosts too early.

        Hop that helps.  

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-D-Dunn/679068624 James D. Dunn

        Good idea! Thanks!

      • bc7373

        Hi thanks, i have got the same problem I was stuck with fungus. I will try your solution. Cheers,

        slight

  • $27256047

    I keep completing the bacteria challenge on all three levels, however the virus stage will not unlock for me. Has this happened to anyone else? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated....

  • http://twitter.com/VanillaDollxxx Vanilla Doll

    I have the same problem. I win (there's really no strategy involved) and the game states I lost and won't unlock next level. so two possibilities. Either an obvious game breaking bug right off the bat or a scam because the game still offers you to pay to unlock the levels. And tons of users have given one star on the App store for this reason. How come no review will mention that?

  • http://www.facebook.com/wayned.timperley Wayne Timperley

    My solution for fungus was simple, but long. I spent DNA on the 2 types of transmission for air and ship travel. Then I made sure I researched the cold weather ability. As free mutations popped up, I devolved them immediately for the 4 bonus DNA points to keep my disease under the radar. I waited until the every person was infected (5 years game time), then continued to wait, accumulating the occasional orange pop ups for DNA, and cashing in the sporadic symptom mutations that popped up. By 2022, I had stockpiled enough DNA to unleash a torrent of lethal symptoms that wiped the world out quite quickly. I also researched Genetic Hardening 1 & 2 and Drug Resistance 1 before I started cashing in my 190 DNA points in for lethal symptoms. Like I said, it was a long game, but I won! I also went back and devolved the ship and air transmissions, cold weather survivability once everyone was infected for the extra DNA points. No point in keeping them active once the world is infected.

Plague Inc. Reviewed by Cassandra Khaw on . Rating: 4