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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 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.
  • 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 symptom 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.
  • 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.
    • Parasite does not kill its hosts, but feeds off them instead. How parasites operate in-game resembles more of a parasitoid, which does 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.
  • Ascended Meme: The "Shut Down Everything" mode is a direct reference to the infamously hard-to-infect Madagascar from Pandemic
  • 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.
  • Body Horror: Yup. See Frozen Virus scenario, Necroa Virus, and Neurax Worm for the main offenders.
  • Book Ends: Subverted. At the beginning of the game, nations will report about mundane things, like natural disasters, Shout-Out news, and Real Life CDC reports. If everything goes right (or wrong, depending on when this occurs), your newsfeed then fills up with nations locking down their borders, establishing martial law, and burning bodies to prevent infection. This does not change for the rest of the game.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 outrbreak, 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.
  • Ghost Planet: When everyone dies.
  • Harder Than Hard: Mega-Brutal difficulty: "For those who thought Brutal was too casual"
  • Disease Name Is Spreading: You get to name your disease.
  • 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, and Zombify them all for the Necroa 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")
  • Luck-Based Mission: Sometimes. Good luck getting DNA for the Necroa Virus when you spent it all on transmission!
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child: See Foreshadowing above, where a zombie case happens like this.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Yellow updates after evolving Anaerobic Resuscitation in Necroa Mode. See Foreshadowing.
  • A Million is a Statistic
  • Multiple Choice Past: Interestingly, the Necroa Virus has four possible backstories, dependent on starting location, DNA traits(activated before a game is begun), and initial evolution.
    • By starting in the U.S, and by upgrading saliva and drug resistance, 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, 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 with Zoonotic Shift and animal infection perks, the disease is eventually said to have come from the remains of Chernobyl.
    • By starting in the UK, 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.
    • 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.
  • Patient Zero: Sometimes, a side event will involve the CDC looking for the Patient Zero to whatever your plague is.
  • 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.
  • 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" achivement. 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 Posession Assisted Suicide, but the Neurax Worm can do this.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: Many.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Zombie Apocalypse: Of course.
    • Our Zombies Are Different: These can run, swim, spit acid, and revive themselves as many times as your DNA count allows.
    • Elite Zombie: Certain combinations of Symptoms and Abilities can enable certain kinds of these.
    • 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.
    • Walk, Don't Swim: Another upgrade tree allows zombie hordes to cross bodies of water (including entire oceans) faster. Subverter with an upgrade stating that they float down currents due to decomposition.
    • 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 .
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.

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