Video Game: Plague Inc

A multi-platform game developed by Ndemic Creations, which is a Spiritual Successor to the web game Pandemic. After choosing your initial plague type, you are brought to the world map, where you freely pick your starting location. It's more strategical in the sense that certain countries have perks that make them easier or harder to infect; the U.S, for example, has better healthcare, while a country like Algeria or New Guinea is far easier to overtake with infection. Like Pandemic before it, certain countries are harder to infect than others. To list:
  • Caribbean, New Guinea, the Philippines, and Madagascar: Their one port is frustrating.
  • Iceland: Tough to get to despite having a port and airport.
  • New Zealand: Good healthcare and low population density means a slow disease spread without Rodent Transmission or Drug Resistance.
  • Greenland: This country is a bastard to infect since it has one port and a very small percentage of ships go there. And if it did get there? Good luck infecting more than 10 people without Cold Resistance. Starting in Greenland (or its only neighbor, Norway) means you have to work through plenty of the healthiest and smallest countries on the map to infect much of anywhere else.
  • Canada: Its cold climate, good healthcare, no rural/urban bonus, and scattered population make it a pain to infect.

There have also been various Downloadable Content packs:
  • The Neurax Worm is a plague that promotes infection with an instant win condition should you infect everyone.
  • The Necroa Virus promotes a Zombie Apocalypse scenario after you start killing everyone, where you get to command zombies(somehow).
  • The Scenarios update throws you into... well, scenarios, where Earth has been tweaked according to the scenario in question, such as Smallpox, Global Warming, among others.
  • The Simian Flu, a tie-in with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, is a plague where the player must not only attempt to infect humanity, but also control intelligent apes to assist the spread of the disease in order to give control of the Earth to the apes.

Purchase the iOS version here, or the Android version here. An Updated Re-release called Plague Inc: Evolved was released on Steam Early Access on February 20th, 2014.

Can you infect the world?

WARNING-Trope Virus Identified:

  • Affectionate Parody: Of Pandemic, eventually evolving into a respectable Spiritual Successor.
    • It also parodies Real Life events, switching names around at times (e.g: Gill Bates wants to send scientists into space to find a cure).
  • Anyone Can Die: Well, everyone can die.
  • Apocalypse How: Planetary Human Extinction is your goal. You can still get Regional and Continental Extinctions (which would effectively mean Global Collapse or Disruption, at the very least) if Humans successfully fight back. Even if you're very unlucky, the spread of your virus is guaranteed to cause Regional Disruption with all the closures and emergency measures.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The news reports, as they track infections and lockdowns across the globe.
    • Plus the Evolved trailer and introduction where an increasingly-worried doctor narrates an autopsy of a woman with the PAX-12 virus, ending in a facility lockdown when he realizes the deceased may still be infectious.
  • Artificial Body Parts: One Scenario. They actually do slow down the death count when you start killing. Did we mention that they can violently rip them out if they're afflicted with Insanity? Or that they can malfunction?
  • Artistic License – Biology: Strongly averted most of the time.
    • Parasites do not kill its hosts, but feed off them instead. How parasites operate in-game resembles more of a parasitoid, which can kill its hosts eventually.
    • Due to the use of generic descriptions of events and traits, all pathogens possesses DNA and DNA points for evolution, including the decidedly non-DNA-owning prion.
  • Attack Drones: Governments will use these in the Simian Flu scenario to scout out and destroy ape settlements.
  • Autocannibalism: The Autophagia symptom which "compels Infectees to bite and devour their own bodies"
  • Bat out of Hell: The Necroa virus and Nipah virus allow bats to transmit infection and, at higher levels, kill.
  • The Black Death: A Scenario allows for modern day replication of the famous pandemic.
  • Blatant Lies: One of the news ticker items involves a "Green tech firm" that claims to invent a power source fueled by "laughter and joy." The firm also "denies reports of oil barrels nearby."
  • Body Horror: Yup. See Frozen Virus scenario, Necroa Virus, and Neurax Worm for the main offenders.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Unlocking cheats requires beating the game with every disease type on Brutal difficulty or higher, thus proving that you've mastered the game without needing cheats at all.
  • But What About the Astronauts?: You can avert this if the cure gets sent to space, where the plague infects and kills them. It's hard, though.
  • Chekhov's News: In-universe, since the player already knows what will happen, the news updates at the top become meaningful later.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Countries will go from the natural green landscaping to red, orange in the Neurax Worm, or purple blackish in the Necroa Virus.
  • Current Events Blog: Sort of. News comes in real time, so the news bar is akin to this.
  • Day of the Jackboot: The whole world in the Christmas scenario. Having fun and being happy are literally illegal, and humanity is made to be bored and miserable by law and coercion . It's so bad that even the Neurax Worm is compelled to save the day... by mind-controlling everyone into being cheerful.
  • Determinator: The world will not stop cure research until every nation's government falls, which may happen at a surviving population of half a million or less, all infected with something that causes every symptom from organ failure to comas to rapid bleeding.
  • Devolution Device: Though a lot of the symptoms of the Pithovirus in "Scenarios" are realistic, some of them start causing humans to mutate into Neanderthals. Infect everyone once you have this trait and it's a nonlethal win for destroying human civilization, just like the alternate Neurax Worm win.
  • Death by Disfigurement: Some symptoms. Evolving lethal symptoms in the Frozen Virus causes this as part of the Devolution Device plot listed above.
  • Everybody Lives: If you screw up. On lower difficulties you'd have to try to fail to achieve this. On Brutal and Mega Brutal, this is most likely your Game Over.
  • Evolution Power-Up: Transmission Vector upgrades allow your pathogen to randomly mutate symptoms.
  • Flying Dutchman: Averted. No ships set sail when ports are closed.
  • Foreshadowing: After evolving the first lethal zombie symptom in the Necroa Virus, news in yellow foreshadows the zombie outbreak, such as:
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Nigh everything in the world can be attributed to the disease, such as the London Olympics infecting the UK, Apple$oft tech advancing a cure, among others. This also includes natural disasters such as earthquakes. That's right, the death toll from an earthquake is attributed by the game to your disease. At least, the deaths don't trigger the same panic as a death from the disease.
  • Ghost Planet: When everyone dies.
  • Guest Fighter: As a result of the partnership between Ndemic and 20th Century Fox, the new plague in Mutation 1.9 arrives as the Simian Flu from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: Inverted in the Christmas scenario, where happiness is banned.
  • Harder Than Hard:
    • Mega-Brutal difficulty: "For those who thought Brutal was Casual"
    • There's been a serious difficulty spike present since the Necroa virus came out. Necroa, most of the scenarios and especially the Simian Flu are all just as difficult on Brutal as the regular plagues are on Mega-Brutal.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here: You get to name your disease.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: "Your disease has killed more people than the Black Plague!"
  • Hollywood Evolution: Every copy of your disease has the same traits. You can spread your harmless little parasites throughout most of the world, and then give every single one the ability to cause heart attacks simultaneously.
  • Hope Spot: For the humans, anyway. It's possible for them to complete the cure and start distributing it, only for the cure to be rendered useless through genetic reshuffle obtained afterward.
  • Horror Hunger: Cannibalism before zombie symptoms in Necroa Mode.
  • Humanity's Wake: A dead planet most of the time, mind controlled humans in Neurax Mode, dead Zombies in Necroa Mode, Neanderthals in the Frozen Virus.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: For their PAX 2012 trailer, what could be more appropriate than "Ring Around The Rosy"? A patch also adds this in as a background noise being sung by a young boy that is played for the late game stages.
  • It Can Think: You play a (presumably) sentient and malevolent pathogen out to eradicate the entire human race.
  • Kill 'em All: The object of the game. Alternatively, Mind Control Them All for the Neurax Worm, Zombify them all for the Necroa Virus, devolve them all for the Frozen Virus.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Some of the random events point out the oddities of the world map, from Korea being a single region (they unified) to Alaska being a part of Canada (which got it in the "famous Hay-Herbert treaty")
  • Level Editor: The Scenario Creator in Evolved.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Christmas scenario. The world becomes so unfun that even the Neurax Worm gets angry and infects the world to bring joy to the world.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Sometimes. Good luck getting DNA for the Necroa Virus when you spent it all on transmission!
  • Man Child: The "Immaturity" symptom that appears in certain custom plagues increases infectivity due to lack of hygiene. And possibly lots of acne.
  • Marathon Level: The Necroa Virus can become this if you opt to forgo the zombies.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child: See Foreshadowing above, where a zombie case happens like this.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Yellow updates after evolving Cytopathic Reanimation in Necroa Mode. See Foreshadowing.
  • A Million Is a Statistic
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Interestingly, the Necroa Virus has four possible backstories. To get them, you need to start in specific countries and evolve Saliva 1 and one other trait within 60 in-game days.
    • By starting in the U.S and evolving Drug Resistance 1, a company called Dark-Water is mentioned in red in the news. Once you get to the mid point, Dark-Water admits to creating the virus and does a Heel-Face Turn of sorts to combat it.
    • By starting in Egypt and evolving Heat Resistance 1, you get reports of an expedition into an ancient tomb. Allow it to progress, and the disease is revealed to have been dormant and originated from ancient tombs, with bite marks on mummies and ancient readings of plagues.
    • By starting in Ukraine and evolving Zoonotic Shift, the disease is eventually said to have come from the remains of Chernobyl.
    • By starting in the UK and evolving Segmented Genome, the disease will be the result of an AIDS cure Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • News Travels Fast: The updates happen faster than the news bar can display them.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • Brutal mode, but when compared to Pandemic, it's a lot less harder. Also, the Shut Down Everything scenario, baring special plague types, which avert this trope due to their mechanics.
    • The Necroa Virus scenario gives you a plague that gets spotted the second it develops a symptom. De-evolving symptos is stupidly expensive, but if you don't do so, you won't manage to infect enough people before a cure is developed or Z-Com destroys your zombies. Good luck with those mutations.
    • Mega-Brutal has made the game incredibly difficult. One false step in your virus crafting can make the world go into full panic and lock-down everything.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted from the disease's point of view, anyway.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: You play as this.
  • Organ Theft: Well, SELF Organ Theft, as a result from evolving the Insanity symptom in the Artificial Organs Scenario.
  • Parasite Zombie: Neurax Worm infectees display aggression towards uninfected people.
  • Patient Zero: Sometimes, a side event will involve the CDC looking for the Patient Zero to whatever your plague is.
  • Perspective Flip: In-Universe, the CDC can release a video game about curing a global pandemic.
  • The Plague: Duh.
  • Plot Advancing Death: When the first disease victim dies, shit gets real.
  • Power Incontinence: The Bio-Weapon is too powerful for its own good—it automatically kills people it infects even if they have no symptoms, and it gets more lethal over time. On the plus side, this means people can start dropping dead for no apparent reason and the authorities won't identify the plague and start researching a cure. On the downside, this means that it has a strong tendency to burn itself out by killing its hosts too quickly unless you spread everywhere, fast.
  • Present Day Present Time: The game links to your device's clock so your plague starts on the day you start playing on.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • Everyone in the Shut Down Everything Scenario.
    • Interestingly, the CDC has taken this game as a simulation warning should an outbreak actually happen IRL. See Shown Their Work.
    • The best example is the "Peer Pressure" achievement. You can easily get it by having only one unoticable symptom like 'sneezing'. The doctors will not notice, the government will ignore it, but the people will riot over it. Forcing them to investigate, months later, the government will confirm the plague, alerting other countries while the cure starts, although at minimal priority.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Well, more like Possession Assisted Suicide, but the Neurax Worm can do this.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The Neurax Worm. It even has a special interface viewer representing the severity of its cerebral infection, depicted by nerve tendrils leading from its mandibles to a human brain.
  • Race Against the Clock: Getting 5 biohazards typically requires you to beat the game within one in-game year, and, as mentioned above, the special backstories for the Necroa Virus require you to evolve the needed traits within 60 in-game days. This also comes into play from both sides once the cure is started; will humanity win the race and complete the cure before you shut them down, or will you win the race and kill them all?
  • Random Event: Some of the achievements require the player to trigger certain events, either by accident or they can invoke it. Some are easy to trigger, some require luck, even if you follow a guide and do things right.
  • Real Life: Many real life events and people are alluded to in Plague Inc, but with parodied names to avoid legal issues and/or controversy.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Some events in the news ticker are updated every few months. During the later quarter of 2013, one news ticker mentioned the US Government Shutdown.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: A completely flat map of the world is your playing field.
  • Sarah Palin If the American president has to stand down due to ill-health and if The Plague has the insanity symptom, Spalin will be elected to the take the office. Spalin with then threaten Russia or China with nuclear war depending on the symptoms that the disease has, claiming that it is a bio-weapon of their creation. If the military generals are paralyzed from the disease, Spalin will carry through on the threat and kill everyone in that country.
  • Saving Christmas: A scenario released for the 2014 Holiday season, "Fun" has been banned globally, and it's up to the Neurax Worm (XMA-3) to bring happiness back just in time for Christmas. Most of the News ticker updates consist of Christmas-themed references, such as a partridge getting shot off a pear tree.
  • Shown Their Work: Enough to get recognized by the CDC themselves. As of the most recent version, real life CDC updates are shown in blue in the news bar.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Once your plague starts being treated as a serious threat, the news ticker stops broadcasting silly headlines and shifts into Apocalyptic Log mode.
  • Shout-Out: There are numerous shout-outs to other franchises in the form of humorous news-ticker updates; in fact, there are so many that they've been moved to their own page!
  • Sleazy Politician: A news ticker update: "Politician makes polygraph machine explode".
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: The parts of the map that are infected by a deadly plague become more and more covered in tiny red dots until the entire country is red. This is the infection phase. When these countries face fatalities, the more people that die, the more the countries turn a bloody dark red. Furthermore, ships and planes that carry the infection leave a red trail rather than a white trail.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: The less severe your disease is, the slower humans react.
  • “Stop Having Fun” Guys: They've apparently taken over the world in the Christmas scenario.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: From the player's perspective, anyway. Evolve a lethal symptom and count up to 10. Someone will die by then, if it's minorly lethal.
  • Technically Living Zombie: The Necroa virus can cause victims to stumble around and feel compelled to eat others (or themselves!) before it actually starts reanimating the dead.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • It's possible to have all the lethal symptoms altogether.
    • Countries can NUKE one another to prevent disease.
    • If you get the US president ill and do several things afterwards, the US can nuke Russia and/or China.
  • Toilet Humor: Those combos that require diarrhea as one of their components.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Most humans on Casual. The Plague is threatening the world? Let's hug the infected and never wash our hands.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Brutal mode for any disease type sans cheats. Governments are very quick to act, and only with massive foresight can you avoid the consequences of human reaction.
  • Tropes of The Living Dead: Let's see all that apply to the Necroa Virus Mode.
    • Army of the Dead: Upgrades allow the individual groups you send to grow to millions in size.
    • Dead Weight: Further symptom upgrades allow some zombies to become living bombs by building up flammable gas and rot-juice.
    • Elite Zombie: Certain combinations of Symptoms and Abilities can enable certain kinds of these; symptoms do stuff like increase bone, skin, and muscle density to make zombies harder to kill, hit harder, and run faster, mutate the salivary glands to make zombies gob acid, and build up flammable gasses and garbage juice to make them explode violently. It also mentions the Horde Master subtype. One symptom also turns freshly-reanimated corpses into Trap zombies.
    • Not Using the Z Word: Forced to confront the issue, governments say the virus can cause "pathological aggression in corpses" but claim the situation is under control.note .
    • Our Zombies Are Different: These can run, swim, spit acid, and revive themselves as many times as your DNA count allows.
    • Raising the Steaks: Necroa's Zoonotic Shift tree allows the virus to zombify animals.
    • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Necroa cannot reanimate headless corpses until Cranial Metastasis is evolved. The mutation Cranial Elephantitis increases the skull's thickness, making it harder to re-kill zombies.
    • Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration: Upgrading a certain ability(which revives dead population to become zombies) allows for Type III if fully upgraded.
    • Technically Living Zombie: As long as you avoid the actual zombie symptom, your infected victims will be this. The non-undead symptoms include ravenous cannibalism-inducing hunger, madness, an aversion to sunlight and excess drooling.
    • Walk, Don't Swim: Another upgrade tree allows zombie hordes to cross bodies of water (including entire oceans) faster. Subverted with an upgrade stating that they float down currents due to decomposition.
    • Zombie Apocalypse: Of course.
    • Zombie Puke Attack:The symptoms Acidic Reflux and Naja Mortis makes the infected projectile vomit, which increases combat efficiency and disease spread
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: The game begins on the date you launch it, progressing at around one day per second.
  • Updated Re-release: Plague Inc: Evolved, released for Steam as an Early Access gamenote , including multiplayer modes to infect the Earth or cure it, custom scenariosnote , updated graphics and a ton of other things. Buy it on Steam.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Averted. Having "vomiting" or any other extremely noticeable symptom will have everyone freak out and increases severity.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The number of horrible symptoms and sinister ways to spread the disease can cause one to feel like a supervillainous Omnicidal Maniac as you rain death down upon the world.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: On the other hand, making your disease horribly over the top and gruesome is a sure way to screw yourself over. Killing everyone too quickly with horrible combinations will quarantine the plague quickly, followed by curing unless all the infected die.
  • Video Game Geography: The Earth is actually flat in Plague Inc, or at least the transportation methods act as such. For example, a plane travelling from the US West Coast to Australia will never cross the Pacific. It will cross the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans.
  • Villain Protagonist: Naturally.
    • By triggering special conditions at the beginning of the Necroa Virus mode, you get one in the form of the DarkWater company. Advance correctly, and it's revealed they created the virus, and pull a Heel-Face Turn to stop it.
  • Violation of Common Sense: For those used to winning by remaining undetected until everyone's infected and then hitting the kill switch, the fact that most strategies for Mega-Brutal throw stealth out the window and start killing before that point(since time is of the essence, especially if you're going for a high score) can feel like this.
  • You Can Panic Now: Zigzagged & played realistically: pop-ups will inform you about your disease being discovered, though by the time they do, your disease is still young and isn't perceived as a threat. This will alert other countries, damaging your stealthiness while giving research for the cure minimal to zero priority. But as you continue adding resistances and symptoms, the priority rises.
    • The RMS will warn people that your disease can evolve, become lethal, they will eventually put it at the top of their list. You might also get the event where the CDC will look for patient zero; and your news feeds will go dark quick.
    • If your disease is spotted but you still have too little severity to draw attention, SURPRISE! Activists will organize an Awareness Day that will most likely result in your disease being placed on the RMS's priority list.
    • In special scenarios, weeks after your plague is global, scientists will respond telling people not to worry as the plague is easy to cure. After a month or two, however, they'll immediately warn people that your disease has regenerative abilities (Necroa Virus) or mind manipulation abilities (Neurax Worm). Sometimes events like this will lead to paranoia, slowing the economy, thus slowing the cure. However, it can also cause every country to give the cure maximum priority.
    • I Did What I Had to Do: Do things right and soon every country will do whatever it takes to impede your progress, as the news feeds go from bad to worse:
      • From: closing borders > to institutionalizing the sick > to executing the sick! Stops land transmissions.
      • From: killing rats/pigeons, and banning livestock > to culling all rodents/birds/livestock. Stops animal transmissions.
      • From: doctors disregarding safety measures > to legalizing human experimentation. Cure meter rises faster.
      • Upgrade to get the Insanity symptom, and watch as the world spirals into madness. Cue Random Events such as nuclear plant meltdowns, countries nuking each other, and the World Cup getting canceled.
      • Governments can and will bomb infected areas.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
    • To Resident Evil for the US version of Necroa. An unscrupulous pharmecutical company is responsible for a mutagenic Zombie Virus outbreak and is desperately trying to cover its ass. It even dispatches Cleanup Crews.
    • The UK versions backstory is similar to 28 Days Later. The Virus was created for a completely benign reason by a lab in Britain but was released during a lab accident.

Remember, in real life, moving to Greenland will not make you immune to deadly pathogensnote .