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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; rich nations have better health care, while third-world countries are far easier to overtake with infection. Like Pandemic before it, certain countries are harder to infect than others. To list:
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  • Caribbean, New Guinea, the Philippines, and Madagascar: Their one port is frustrating.
  • Iceland: Tough to get to despite having both a port and an 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 one does get there? Good luck infecting more than 10 people without Cold Resistance. Starting in Greenland (or its only neighbor, Iceland) 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:

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  • The Neurax Worm is a plague that prioritizes mental illnesses (depression, aggression, subjugation, etc.) over typical symptoms.
  • 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 or your Plague has been tweaked according to the scenario in question, including real-life diseases such as Mad Cow or Smallpox, and situations such as a world where every country trait is reversed (i.e. Egypt becomes cold, America becomes poor, etc.) and 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.
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  • The Custom Scenarios, downloadable fan-made scenarios with two free daily downloads, though only one scenario can be stored at a time unless more space is purchased.
  • A vampire disease known as the Shadow Plague, where a dormant vampire awakens in modern times to make the billions of humans its slaves, combining elements from the Neurax Worm, the Necroa Virus, and the Simian Flu.

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 and fully released on February 18th, 2016.

A successful Kickstarter was launched for Plague Inc. The Board Game, which ended up being over 1000% funded by the end of the campaign, and was launched in November 2016.

Can you infect the world?


WARNING-Trope Virus Identified:

  • Adam and Eve Plot: Referenced and Implied with this official shirt.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Apes. In the original movie, the virus was spread by an irresponsible pilot, but the apes were innocents. While in this game, the apes openly try to spread the virus.
  • Affectionate Parody:
  • Anti-Frustration Features: A few examples.
    • The Fungus has a series of "Spore Burst" abilities that allow it to infect a random country, allowing for more aggressive play since islands are less of a concern.
    • Extreme Zoonosis can allow a plague to infiltrate an island that has shut all of its ports.
    • The special plagues have some unique abilities that make ports outright useless in stopping a pandemic, since an infection can actively be sent to a country.
      • A couple commonplace ones in some Custom Scenarios, usually to decrease the odds of the scenario being unwinnable due to a country shutting everything down.
      • Including a "Spore Burst" equivalent to instantly infect a locked country.
      • Cranking up Infectivity to increase the odds that every country will be infected before they can react.
      • Giving problem countries alternate entrances, like giving airports to problem islands, in order to ensure that their usual entrance being locked doesn't immediately mean game over.
  • Anyone Can Die: Well, everyone can die. And should.
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: All of humanity fights to the bitter end to find a cure, even if you've managed to infect enough people that society has basically collapsed and things will never be the same again. It's heavily implied that wars and tensions between nations, even in case where bad blood has existed for years, are all set aside (if not outright resolved) for the sake of stopping the plague from destroying the world.
  • 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 (voice by Harry S. Robins, AKA every scientist in the Half-Life universe, including Dr. Kleiner) 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.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Common with mutations, especially near the end-game. You may have given your disease Total Organ Failure, Necrosis, Immuno-Suppression, Internal Hemorrhaging, and a bunch of other highly lethal and really painful symptoms, only for it to spontaneously evolve something like Sneezing.
  • 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.
    • Asked if he was worried that real-life terrorists might use the games to model bio-terror attacks, Ndemic Creations founder James Vaughn said he hoped they did - their plans would be neutered by the game's bent towards making a good game. Infecting the world, or any nation, is easier than it would be in reality, but the biggest shortcut is the way that when you "evolve" a new feature, it spontaneously develops in the infection everywhere. Vaughn compared this to a baby being born with six fingers on each hand meaning that everyone on Earth suddenly grew extra fingers. The new strain would have to out-compete the old one to become dominant, but re-infecting the whole world every time you made a change would be no fun.
    • Parasites do not kill their hosts under most conditions 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 possess DNA and DNA points for evolution, including the decidedly non-DNA-owning prion.
  • Artistic License – Geography: National borders are simplified. The fact that Alaska is considered part of Canada is even lampshaded in the news ticker.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • Ndemic actually ended up making shirts expressing hatred of Greenland.
    • One of the most common things to do in Custom Scenarios is to give Greenland (and sometimes other hard-to-reach countries) an airport. Enter Mutation 15 and the "Flight Club" official scenario, in which every country has an airport.
  • Assimilation Plot: You can do this with the Neurax Worm. The Christmas scenario outright requires it.
  • Attack Drones: Governments will use these in the Simian Flu plague type to scout out and destroy ape settlements. In the Shadow Plague type, the Templars will send drones to destroy your vampire lairs.
  • Autocannibalism: The Autophagia symptom which "compels Infectees to bite and devour their own bodies".
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Plagues that have high Lethality like the Bio-Weapon and Black Death/Bubonic Plague. You get to kill people from early on but it also means that in the early game those who are infected can easily die before infecting anyone else, causing the pathogen to kill itself. In addition to this, these plagues can easily cause high Severity and prioritization to find a cure.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The goal of the game and what will happen upon your pathogen's victory. Unless it's the Christmas Scenario where your Neurax Worm is less of a villain.
  • Bat Out of Hell: The Necroa Virus and Nipah Virus allow bats to transmit infection and, at higher levels, kill. This is also all over the place in the Shadow Plague mode.
  • 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.
  • Clash of Evolutionary Levels: Happens in the Simian Flu (humans vs. evolved apes) and Frozen Virus (humans vs. humans regressing into Neanderthals) scenarios.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Countries will go from the natural green and yellow landscaping to red for regular plagues, orange for the Neurax Worm, purple-blackish for the Necroa Virus, yellow for the Simian Flu, and violet for the Shadow Plague, as more of the world's population becomes infected. When you start killing people, these colors will become an increasingly darker shade as the death toll rises.
  • Composite Character:
    • The Shadow Plague combines gameplay elements from the Neurax Worm, the Necroa Virus and the Simian Flu.
    • Mad Cow Disease combines the key disadvantages of the Black Death and Smallpox.
  • Controllable Helplessness:
    • Possible if an island country shuts down all ports and airports before it becomes infected (and there's no workaround like Trojan Planes or Spore Burst); you can keep playing until everyone else is dead, but you've already lost.
    • Similarly, the completion of the cure isn't an instant game over—you get to watch the "Infected" count tick down for several seconds before getting the defeat screen. However, this has the beneficial side effect of giving you time to acquire a Genetic Reshuffle, which will set back the cure and give you the opportunity to clutch the round.
  • Current Events Blog: Sort of. News comes in real time, so the news bar is akin to this.
  • Creepy Good: The Neurax Worm in the Christmas scenario. Story wise, it's attempting to spread joy and happiness with the goal of Saving Christmas... using many of the same Mind Control tactics as a normal Neurax Worm run. However, it's completely impossible to increase Lethality, even natural disasters are disabled.
  • 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.
  • Dead Weight: Further symptom upgrades allow some zombies to become living bombs by building up flammable gas and rot-juice.
  • Delayed Reaction: This is the weakness of the Prion type diseases, taking longer time to react to new evolutions and thus a delay before a purchased evolution takes effect.
  • 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.
    • Often, the country leading the research will continue to fly study missions around the world even when it seems all hope is lost and the world is virtually dead.
  • Devolution Device: Though a lot of the symptoms of the Pithovirus scenario 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.
  • Denser and Wackier: The Shadow Plague, in which any science or pseudoscience was dropped in favor of evolutions that do stuff like morphing to bats, vampire lairs, and outright teleportation.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: "Mankini is not funny, says Kazakh professor."note 
  • Easy Logistics: Once the cure is complete, it will be deployed worldwide immediately, regardless of how badly your disease has ravaged the world. The eradication of smallpox took several years of concerted effort, but a slow, grinding defeat would be no fun for the player. Even if global society has collapsed (or fallen under the influence of the Neurax Worm), the disease will be eradicated within weeks or days. Of course, the same is also true for the player, in that the infection changes globally in mere seconds after upgrading it.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: There's an option in the settings menu called "Pity Mode" that, when active, will allow you to unlock the next disease type by winning on Casual difficulty instead of Normal.
  • 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.
  • Enemy Summoner: Z-Com in the Necroa Virus scenario. Not only can they attack and kill zombies in the countries their bases are in, they can also send forces to establish bases in other countries should a base last long enough.
  • 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 if you don't increase Lethality soon enough.
    • The Neurax Worm plague type and the Frozen Virus scenario are both capable of being won non-lethally if you're so inclined, and the mechanics practically encourage this since the same symptoms that cause this also set back or slow down the cure. In theory, the Shadow Plague could be won with Shadow Slaves alone without killing anyone, but not only would you have to never use Blood Wraith which will severely limit how many DNA points you can get, your vampire would have to be constantly on the move since even staying in a country is lethal as the vampire feeds.
    • Inevitable in the "Santa's Little Helper" scenario; not only is there no way to increase Lethality, but natural disasters are disabled, so it's literally impossible for anyone to die.
    • Doable in a rather Non-Standard Game Over (though you still get the normal Defeat screen) with the Simian Flu, and there's an Achievement for it. You have to make all Apes intelligent (every single one on the planet, that is), let no more than 60,000 of them die, kill no humans and get no increases to Severity, and allow the disease to be cured. The result? With no more fear of disease, humans and apes can coexist in peace, and you get the Achievement "The Future Is Bright".
    • "Ultimate Board Games", as a consequence of being less of a plague and more of a marketing plug.
  • Evolution Power-Up: Certain Transmission Vector upgrades, typically those involving animals and blood, increase the chance of your pathogen randomly mutating symptoms.
  • Find the Cure!: This is what mankind will eventually scramble to do and what you should prevent by keeping a low profile until the time is right, actively sabotaging the efforts, or a combination of the two.
  • 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:
      • "Mother claims "dead" son tried to kill her."
      • "Bath salts blamed for cannibalism surge."note 
      • "Parents vanish, leaving small child alone."
    • The Frozen Virus foreshadows human devolution with the early evolve Abilities as well as the last part of the scenario description ("Does it have what it takes to send humanity back to the stone age?").
  • Funny Background Event: The news bar spits out random non-disease related headlines, especially early on. The amusing ones are usually either Ripped from the Headlines, a Shout-Out, a Take That!, or a basic two-phrase joke. They become much rarer once your plague progresses, due to the more pressing news stories.
    "Xm L_3rr0R~/?$-HELP.i.am.trapped.in.the.newsbar!.^"
    "Cartoonist found dead at home. Details are sketchy"
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Nigh everything in the world can be attributed to the disease, such as the London/Rio Olympics infecting the UK/Brazi and, Apple$oft tech advancing a cure, among others. This also includes natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and severe thunder storms. 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.
  • Good Colours, Evil Colours: Failing a scenario (by your plague being wiped out before killing everyone) gives a clean white/grey results screen. Succeeding a scenario by wiping out everyone (or achieving an alternate win condition) gives a dark red results screen.
  • 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.
  • "Help! Help! Trapped in Title Factory!" A news ticker update may sometimes say: "Xml_3rr0R$/?$-HELP.i.am.trapped.in.the.newsbar!.^".
  • Hero Antagonist: Naturally, the various organisations that fight your disease and try to prevent you from killing everyone like the WHO, the CDC, Z-Com and the Templars.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: You get messages saying that your disease has infected more people than Tuberculosis, HIV, the Black Plague, and the Common Cold, and that your disease has killed more people than the Black Plague, the Spanish Flu, and Small Pox.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: One of the ways to lose is by making your disease too lethal too fast. People will start dying faster than they are infected, and eventually the last carriers will die before having a chance to spread it around to the few people still alive, eradicating the disease. You can also make it too brutal too fast and drive people to shut down entrances and hammer away at the cure before you can react.
  • 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. Mad Cow Disease can also cause this if you go down the mental path.
  • Humanity's Wake: A dead planet most of the time, mind controlled humans in Neurax Mode, Zombies in Necroa Mode, Neanderthals in the Frozen Virus, a world controlled by apes in the Simian Flu, and humanity enslaved by vampires in the Shadow Plague.
  • Increasingly Lethal Enemy:
    • Z-Com in the Necroa Virus mode. Every fortification of theirs will grow stronger over time. They start off with one fortification, and if not dealt with in time, will send planes over to other countries to establish more fortifications that will send more planes if not dealt with. As such, it's essential to get your zombies to take down their fortifications quickly.
    • Templars in the Shadow Plague mode. Like Z-Com, the Templars will become stronger in their country over time, which makes it important to remove them quickly. Unlike Z-Com they can't establish more bases, but instead grow stronger each time another Templar base is destroyed.
  • Instant-Win Condition: Downplayed. The Neurax Worm, Bio-Weapon, and the Shadow Plague all have symptoms that pretty much guarantee victory... if you use them right:
    • The Neurax Worm has "Transcendence", which makes the infected view the virus as a god and refuse to continue searching for a cure. Use it when everyone is already infected, and you win automatically.
      • Santa's Little Helper does the same thing minus having to evolve that symptom; just infect everyone and you've won.
    • The Bio-Weapon has "Annihilate Gene", which maxes out your Lethality instantly, and makes the other two stats skyrocket. Use it when everyone is already infected and watch people drop faster than flies, but use it too early, and your disease will run a heavy risk of burning itself out.
    • "Shadow Slaves" is the Shadow Plague's answer to "Transcendence", inciting a state of permanent psychosis in the infected, causing them to become slaves to the vampire.
    • The Frozen Virus has "Neanderthal Regression", which causes the infected to revert back to Neanderthals. Like "Transcendence", evolving it when everyone is infected is an instant win.
  • 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 girl 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, or enslave them all for the Shadow Plague.
  • Killer Robot: The Nano-Virus is a nanobot with the ability to replicate itself that seeks to kill all humans.
  • Kill One, Others Get Stronger: When playing as the Shadow Plague, each destroyed Templar base will send survivors to the others to make them stronger.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • Some of the random events point out the oddities of the world map, from Korea being a single region (they unified, but there's still a Demilitarized Zone that the soldiers threaten to go on strike over), to Alaska being a part of Canada (which got it in the "famous Hay-Herbert treaty"), to Denmark being a part of Germany (the German government has trouble with the "Danish Mafia becoming too powerful.").
  • Level Editor: The Scenario Creator in Evolved.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Santa's Little Helper scenario. The world becomes so gloomy and unhappy that even the Neurax Worm gets angry and infects the world to bring joy everywhere.
    • The Neurax Worm in general could be considered this, considering that you are given the option to enslave humanity rather than wipe it out, and the comical news even remains for far longer than any other plague.
    • The "Ultimate Board Games" scenario takes this trope even further since as you are simply tasked to sell the best board game you can design, you don't infect or kill anyone in the process.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • Mutations. These are random, sometimes you'll get one that helps Infectivity which is good in the early/mid game but useless once you've infected everyone, sometimes you'll get a highly lethal symptom which is great when everyone is infected but bad if you haven't spread around much as it can cause you to kill faster than you infect or to get detected earlier than planned.
    • Good luck getting DNA for the Necroa Virus when you spent it all on Transmission!
    • The Fungus' Spore Burst and Spore Eruption both release plague spores into random countries (one in the former, five in the latter). Hope you managed to hit a strategic or a hard-to-reach country!
  • Magic Versus Science: The Shadow Plague scenario. Supernatural vampires with the ability to teleport and spread a supernatural disease vs. technologically advanced humanity with Templar forces, Attack Drones, and methods to cure said disease. Your goal is to help the magic side win.
  • Manchild: 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.
    • The Fungus plague type, with its slow transmission, can drag on at times.
  • 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: Or, rather, seven billion is a statistic.
  • Minmaxer's Delight:
    • Saudi Arabia is one of the best possible places to start in in almost all speedrun scenarios. It is the only non-rich country with an airport that can send to/receive from all other countries with an airport, and has a seaport (that sends ships to Madagascar, no less), allowing you to spread very quickly once you've established an infection foothold there. Usually, your first priority when starting there is to take air or water transmission to spread even more quickly.
    • China and India are also two great places to start in thanks to their high population density, meaning that you get more infectees easily. This results in a lot of early-game DNA with which you can quickly evolve your disease.
    • On the symptoms side, Necrosis is a popular choice for speedrunners. It allows the deceased to act as a transmission vector, allowing you to start killing early on without worrying about your disease burning itself out by killing too quickly. It's common in Mega-Brutal strategies for the same reason, but with the added wrinkle that, if evolved too early, countries will panic and shut down everything sooner than viable.
  • 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 Darkwater is mentioned in red in the news. Once you get to the mid point, Darkwater 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 infected animals 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.
    • The Shadow Plague has three possible origin stories, all requiring you to remain unnoticed for a long time to unlock. They involve either Dracula (Central Europe), the world's deepest cave network (Turkey), or or damage to Stonehenge uncovering a sacrificial pit (UK).
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: A news ticker update: "Police set up politician.".
  • My Skull Runneth Over: The Simian Flu can do this. Three symptoms grant increasing levels of Super Intelligence to humans, making work on the cure much faster. The fourth, after buying all three? Dramatically increases the Flu's Lethality. It's potentially that plague's best "kill switch".
  • 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 difficult. Also, the Shut Down Everything scenario, barring 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 symptoms 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. Also, zombification symptoms can't be devolved at all. Good luck with those mutations and getting that Technically Living Zombie achievement.
    • 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. And stealth won't help you because the disease will be discovered in a few months after you begin, regardless of Severity.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted from the disease's point of view, anyway.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Many real life events and people are alluded to in Plague Inc., but with parodied names to avoid legal issues and/or controversy.
    • 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 take the office. Spalin will then threaten either 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.
    • In the Nipah Virus scenario, you can get an achievement for killing Kim Kardashian’s dog.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: As opposed to getting cured or killing every infected person and leaving some untouched by the plague, with the Simian Flu you can, by making all Apes intelligent (every single one on the planet, that is), letting no more than 60,000 of them die, killing no humans and getting no increases to Severity, and allowing the disease to be cured, get the Achievement "The Future Is Bright", humans and Apes having learned to coexist in peace. This is counted as a loss and you'll still get the standard Defeat screen, however.
  • 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 controlnote .
  • Nuke 'em: See No Celebrities Were Harmed above.
    • Desperate countries may bomb infected cities.
  • Obvious Rule Patch:
    • One could trivialize a Fungus run on Normal by having Patho-stasis to keep Spore Burst at 1 DNA, evolving it, then devolving it which always refunded 2 DNA before repeating the process. This allowed the player to stack up DNA points while simultaneously infecting several countries even before the game starts proper. This was quickly noticed and patched out.
    • The quirk of the "Science Denial" scenario is, put simply, one country will hammer away at the cure like nobody's business but the rest of the countries will do squat. The Neurax Worm, Necroa Virus, Simian Flu, and the Shadow Plague are unavailable for this scenario, as they would invoked snap the scenario in two via allowing you to directly target the offending country and destroy it early on.
    • The Simian Flu is severely Nerfed in the "Where Is Everyone?" scenario. Before the patch, overwhelming the few remaining humans was trivially easy.
  • One-Hit Kill: The final ability of the Bio-weapon, Annihilation Gene, makes it so lethal that Total Organ Failure looks like a mild cold. If the whole world is already infected, evolving it wins the game in a few seconds.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting/Ominous Pipe Organ: Both are featured on the Shadow Plague theme.
  • 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.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Shadow Plague: a sentient pathogen with traits of bat-borne diseases that was buried underground with an infected human for many years. It can cause victims to turn psychotic and worship the awakened vampire, as well as mutate any new infectees into new vampires to assist in turning the globe into slaves.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Necroa Virus features a wide range of zombie tropes and Shout Outs. These can run, swim, spit acid, and revive themselves as many times as your DNA count allows.
  • 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. Said game, called Solve The Outbreak, is actually a real game made by the CDC and can be played here.
  • The Plague: You play as a disease attempting to wipe out humanity.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: When the first disease victim dies, shit gets real. Assuming none of these have happened yet, this is usually the point where cure research either starts or picks up speed; seaports, airports, and land borders start shutting down; and extreme measures to find a cure or slow the infection start being taken.
  • Potty Failure: Evolving both Diarrhoea and Insanity in the same disease gets a unique symptom combo, faster research for a cure, and the "Brown Streets" achievement. Sneezing and Diarrhoea can earn the "Oops" combo.
  • 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 in Real Life. See Shown Their Work.
    • The best example is the "Peer Pressure" achievement. You can easily get it by having only one unnoticeable 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.
    • The doctors or government may still discover your disease anyway if it's a Necroa Virus with a low Severity, due to it causing the infected to express unusual anti-social behavior.
  • 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 (3 in scenarios) typically requires you to beat the game within one in-game year (on top of having less than 55% cure progress, a race in and of itself).
    • 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?
    • "Ultimate Board Games" only lasts two in-game years regardless of what you do. That's how long you have to develop, produce, and distribute your board game and make it a smash hit.
  • Raising the Steaks: Necroa's Zoonotic Shift tree allows the virus to zombify animals, perhaps even before zombifying the humans!
  • Random Event: Some of the achievements require the player to trigger certain events, either by accident or by choice. Some are easy to trigger, some require luck, even if you follow a guide and do things right.
  • Reality Ensues: The Bio-Weapon is the result of weaponizing a highly lethal disease. Too lethal, in fact: it kills people too fast for them to spread it, which is why slow-acting but otherwise highly unpleasant diseases are used instead.
    • Ebola is horrific, but wipes out people before they can leave town to spread it to the airport.
    • Anthrax lingers for ages before actually making your lungs rot, but the carrier has spread it to everyone they met. Maybe to two or three airports and a seaport.
  • 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.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Neurax Worm's icon for the Christmas scenario.
  • 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. The 2012 Olympics in Britain were updated to the Rio Olympics in 2016, as was the event that causes concern over whether or not an epidemic would be caused. After the referendum in 2016, news ticker messages started to mention Brexit.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: A completely flat map of the world is your playing field.
  • Save Scumming: The game decides when a mutation will occur before it happens, but the mutation itself is randomly chosen the second it happens. Players with save games can reload beforehand if the mutation is bad and try to get a better one. Particularly useful for Parasite, which lacks a lot of DNA points.
    • In the Steam update, the game pauses entirely to alert the player that a mutation has occurred, players can then devolve the mutation as it happens thus nullifying the need to save scum as often.
  • Saving Christmas: In 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.
  • Scenery Gorn: Evolved shows pictures of famous national venues when you open a country's information page. These pictures reflect the state of social disorder — everything looks fine at first, then you start seeing field hospitals or riot control squads, and finally you see everything destroyed, on fire and with big banners with desperate pleas for help in the local language.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge:
    • Try starting in the US, Canada, or somewhere in the EU. Very different experience from India or Saudi Arabia.
    • In the "Ultimate Board Games" scenario, giving your board game the contradictory themes of "Adult" and "Family" will tank your Hype (which is the scenario's answer to Infectivity)note . Have fun recovering from that.
  • 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.
    • One of the alerts says "Latest research shows that cold countries are getting significantly colder due to global warming.". Despite the name of Global Warming, climatologists have found that winters have actually been getting colder over the last decade because of it.
  • 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.".
  • Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration: Upgrading a certain ability (which revives the dead population, becoming zombies) allows for Type III if fully upgraded. Otherwise a Type I, with the victory screen mentioning that all zombies will soon perish, leaving the earth empty.
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: The parts of the map that are infected by a deadly plague become more and more covered in tiny red/orange/yellow/black/purple dots until the entire country is covered in the plague's respective colour. This is the infection phase. When these countries face fatalities, the more people that die, the more the countries turn darker. Furthermore, ships and planes that carry the infection leave a red or orange trail.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: The less severe your disease is, the slower humans react.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys: Both an In-Universe example and taken literally. 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.
  • Take That!: The Science Denial scenario is essentially a jab towards Flat Earthers, climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers, and recent trends in science denial and anti-intellectualism. Of all these trends, the whole scenario is a haymaker aimed directly towards the anti-vaccine community. where you essentially exploit the folly of the anti-vaxxers, as research on the cure will be continuously stifled by science deniers at almost every major step.
  • 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 an achievement called "Not Another Zombie Game" obtained by winning the Necroa Virus mode without evolving any reanimation effects.
  • 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.
    • One of the combos in the Simian Flu mode, Rude Awakening, qualifies.
    • The Shadow Plague has the combo Silent But Deadly, which causes a bad smell to come from nowhere.
  • The Topic of Cancer: The "Tumors" symptom.
    • The Necroa Virus is initially placed on the watchlist because its regenerative abilities could cause it to overcharge cell division, leading to this. Of course, it soon proves itself worse than that.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Most humans on Casual. The Plague is threatening the world? Let's hug the infected and never wash our hands.
    • The Anti-Science scenario has people sabotage the cure in favor of healing crystals (despite people dropping dead rapidly), and ending quarantine should science fail.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Greenland, compared to Pandemic. In Pandemic, Greenland was infamous for being Too Dumb to Live once infected. Here it's basically to Plague Inc what Madagascar was to Pandemic.
  • 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.
  • 20 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 Game, 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.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: Some custom scenarios that remove the Air and Water transmissions don't take into account the "Sterilization" random events, which require those transmissions to bypass. Losing the ability to spread via airplanes doesn't sting as much since every country has either a land border or a seaport, but losing the ability to spread via ships can render the game unwinnable since not every country that lacks a land border has an airport, rendering such countries inaccessible (unless you're playing with the Neurax Worm (Trojan Planes) or Fungus (Spore abilities), though most custom scenarios pick the plague type for you).
  • 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. That, or the infected will die faster than they can spread the disease, causing it to eventually die out with them.
  • 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: If you aren't trying to kill the entire world, you're either seeking to turn everyone into slaves to your Neurax Worm or vampires. The only time this trope is averted is if you're playing the Santa's Little Helper scenario.
  • 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 WHO will warn people that your disease can evolve and become lethal. They will eventually put it at the top of their watchlist. You might also get the event where the CDC will look for Patient Zero, and your news feeds will go dark quickly.
    • 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 WHO'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 cancelled.
    • Governments can and will bomb infected areas.
  • Walk, Don't Swim: A Necroa Virus 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.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
    • To Resident Evil for the US version of the Necroa Virus: An unscrupulous pharmaceutical 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.
    • Several aspects of the Nipah Virus scenario are adapted from the movie Contagion, from the virus being spread via bats and pigs as a consequence of the bats losing their habitat, to someone claiming that they were cured via a homeopathic remedy. The description even describes the plague as "...a Contagion worthy of Hollywood".
  • Willfully Weak: The various special abilities of the Bio-Weapon all serve to decrease its own Lethality in some way or another (except for the final one). They're needed in order to offset the Bio-Weapon's overly high Lethality which can lead to it killing too many hosts too early before they can infect others as well as alerting the governments.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Causing one is your main goal in the Necroa Virus plague type.
  • Zombie Puke Attack: The symptoms Acidic Reflux and Naja Mortis makes the infected projectile vomit, which increases combat efficiency and disease spread.

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