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Disaster Relief Game

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Most games out there revolve around combat and competition, either between multiple players, or between the player(s) and game-controlled enemies (or both). Not in these games, however: they revolve around not taking lives, but saving them.

A major disaster, whether natural or man-made, presents a situation at least just as tense and dangerous as combat, but instead of sentient enemies, the players are opposed by a faceless destructive force (like a fire, a disease, or even a flood of mindless creatures), which has the Murphy's Law and the Random Number God on its side. The mechanics for spreading disaster often involve randomly localized outbreaks and cascading spread, where every seemingly minor event can trigger a deadly chain reaction.

If multiplayer, such games are rarely competitive, as they require all players' cooperation to win, especially since players are usually assigned differently specialized roles.

A sub-genre of Simulation Game. Compare Disaster Movie, whose protagonists are just as often the rescuers as the rescued.


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    Tabletop Games 
  • Pandemic puts the player into the shoes of a small band of emergency workers trying to contain simultaneous outbreaks of four deadly diseases across the globe. The goal is to find cures for all four before a) any of them spread too far, b) a certain total number of outbreaks occurs, c) the players run out of their limited resources.
  • Flash Point: Fire Rescue sees the players as firefighters trying to save the occupants of a burning house before they suffocate or the house itself collapses. To win, they must save at least seven out of ten trapped people.
  • In Jupiter Rescue, the players are put into the role of a group of robots trying to evacuate the human inhabitants of a space station that is invaded by alien "creeps". While the robots can shoot and kill the creeps, that is merely a stalling tactic and the game is won or lost by the number of humans you can get into escape pods and away from danger before the station is overrun.
  • Bomb Squad is a cooperative game where players take control of bomb disposal robot and have to maneuver it inside a building that has been rigged with bombs. Their goal is to free hostages and disarm all bombs before the timer runs out.
  • Red November is a cooperative board game where the players are the crew of a gnomish submarine that is simultaneously running out of air, sinking to crush depth, and having its reactor melt down due to a combination of fire, flooding, missile malfunction, kraken attack, and the crew being drunk. The goal is to manage these various catastrophes and survive long enough for help to arrive (or find some scuba gear and bail out once rescue is close enough; a player who does this wins if the remaining players die, but loses if they last until rescue).
  • Pathologic, a boardgame based on the video game mentioned below, puts 1-3 players versus the Sand Plague in the small unnamed town on the steppe. Each healer has three Adherents who can assist them, and while the players can move any person's Adherent, they get more clues from using their own. As such, the game is very much not cooperative, as losing an Adherent to the plague can cripple a player.

    Video Games 
  • Jaleco's The Ignition Factor for the Super Nintendo placed you in the role of a firefighter who must battle fires and rescue trapped people inside. You gotta race against the clock before the fires overwhelm the area or you run out of oxygen, and you gotta be prepared for different types of fires, like chemical and electric.
  • In the casual Hidden Object Game Escape the Museum 2, David must make his way to the museum to rescue his family after a devastating earthquake. Along the way, he must intervene to help injured people and prevent secondary disasters such as imminent gas explosions.
  • SimCity involves various random disasters (everything from fires up to Alien Invasion attacks) afflicting the city the player is building and as such forcing the player to assist with fighting the disaster and with the inevitable reconstruction.
  • In the independently developed game named McPixel, you need to prevent large explosions using Insane Troll Logic. It is a Hidden Object Game made with Stylistic Suck to resemble old 8-bit and DOS games and obviously an homage/Affectionate Parody on MacGyver.
  • In the Creeper World flash games, players must keep the oncoming (and literal) floods of Creeper at bay long enough to activate a mechanism that will allow Odin City to beam off the planet to safety.
  • The player's goal in Pathologic is to help a quarantined town survive a mysterious disease. Unfortunately, the differences between the three potential player characters' methods and philosophies mean that they are unwilling to work together to cure the Sand Plague, all of the authority figures of the town are using the plague as an opportunity to usurp power from one another, and the town's spiritual leader and the town doctor who previously cured the disease are plague victims One and Two respectively. By the end of the game, the plague has a four figure body count and the three solutions each involve a sacrifice of some kind
  • Disaster: Day of Crisis is a mix of rescuing people from disasters, both natural and man-made (volcanic eruptions, terrorist attacks, the works), and fighting a rogue military group.
  • Blast Corps has the player clearing the way for two leaking nuclear missiles on a transporter heading directly for the disposal site in a straight line so the player has to level buildings and clear other obstacles to avoid the transporter crashing and the missiles exploding.
  • The Emergency! series of real time strategy games pits players against any number of disasters, requiring them to use police, fire, medical, or other kinds of emergency units to resolve the crisis.
  • This was almost the entirety of SimCopter—putting out fires, evacuating injured people, dropping tear gas on rioters, and the like—along with a few more mundane civic tasks like dispatching police to crime scenes and helping direct traffic.
  • The Big One: As a mayor of Los Angeles, you need to restore the city to order after a destructive earthquake, managing fire engines and work crews to restore safety and peace (and keep your popularity ratings high).
  • Bomb Squad on Intellivision had the player racing against the clock to defuse circuit boards of a bomb in order to spell out the numeric code needed to shut it off. Screwing up could make the timer run faster or blow up the bomb, depending on the type of the mistake and the difficulty level.
  • Microsurgeon was another game where you controlled robotic probes inside a patient to destroy emerging tumors, cholesterol deposits, bacteria invasion, and intestinal parasites. It was designed as a two player game where one player controlled the probe and the other shot medication.
  • Inverted in Pandemic and its sequels, where the player takes the role of an infectious disease and attempts to spread to every country on earth and infect and kill everyone before humanity can stop you.
  • Plague Inc. inverts this trope in most gamemodes, where the player tries to infect and kill the whole world, but plays it straight in the gamemode called Plague Inc: The Cure, where the player tries to save the world from a disease.
  • Burning Rangers is about a futuristic team of firefighters.

    In-Universe Examples 
  • In the climax of Gatchaman Crowds, Rui encourages Galax users to help out by creating game apps that use the CROWDS to help the disaster victims.