The era of moralizing about the dangers of video games must be well and truly over. Plague Inc. was one of the most popular iOS games of the year, cracking the top 20 apps in seven countries, including the US. The object of this crowd-pleasing hit is to eliminate the entire human race, racking up a body count that makes Doom look like Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing– and there’s been nary a peep from the self-appointed guardians of our collective virtue.
Playing the role of an ambitious, upwardly-mobile disease isn’t a conceit that Plague Inc. invented – but it perfected it. It plays considerably more passively than many other RPGs do – a significant amount of time, especially early in the game, is spent waiting around for your disease to spread. But that sedate pace also allows Plague Inc. to reward strategic thinking and planning – finding ways of making the transition from cold climates to warm ones or from the third world to the first. And it’s not as grim as it seems at first glance. When I interviewed him in June, developer James Vaughan said that he considered the game more thought-provoking than gratuitously violent.
Plague Inc. is a highly replayable and thoroughly unusual game – and a title from 2012 we will still be talking about next year. Better to pick it up sooner than later, just in case the Daily Mail catches on.
For all the games recognized in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2012 Awards, visit the awards index page.