From board game to app game to Steam game - Infection: Humanity’s Last Gasp has definitely evolved over the years.
If you enjoy board games and/or have an iPhone, chances are you’ve played this game before. Considered the “opposite of Pandemic”, Infection takes the “fun” out of “obliterate humanity” and readily inserts it into “save all mankind”. Yeah, we reached. So sue us.
But that’s exactly the point of the game - perhaps the salt to Pandemic’s pepper. The bread to its butter. The cure to its epidemic. Okay, okay, I’ll stop. But I found it really interesting that, while I was super busy obsessively trying to end all life on Earth in one game, I could simultaneously race for the cure in another. Kind of funny to think about playing them side by side, now that I mention it…
Infection: Humanity’s Last Gasp is a turn-based medical strategy game that combines skill and thought with the right amount of luck. Gamers that like a title specifically for the skill have no place here - you can do absolutely everything right and you can have a streak of bad luck that will undo everything you had banked on. It’s that instability and unpredictability that makes it pretty exciting.
The game is as easy or as difficult as one prefers - the difficulty modes are aptly named “bacterial” for normal mode and “viral” for hard mode. There is also a custom mode but I didn’t do anything with that. The virus, which almost seems to spread within a petri dish, can grow in several distinct pattern choices which can provide quite a challenge depending on the shape. True to its roots, there will be dice and card draws - notably, tech cards (machines that can aid in defeating the virus) and staff cards (scientists that can assist in saving humanity). Funding and severe mutation are also options - I played with funding “on” and severe mutation “off” because I wanted to finish my game sometime today. These choices can be changed in the menu and are used to test the most talented players.
And like that, the game begins.
The disease infects someone, somewhere around the world. Perhaps Iran. Maybe Panama. It’d be ironic if Madagascar was the first to go (a joke for those past Pandemic players). The fate of the world now rests in the hopefully sterile and gloved hands of the player.
The menu pops up and the player is presented with a small petri dish filled with a bacteria or virus strain (depending on what was chosen). The strain is filled with proteins of various colors. There are four slots for proteins that are to be used against the strain - matching all the proteins within one... molecule? Will eliminate it. Eliminate them all, and voila! Humanity saved.
Of course, it’s not so easy. The proteins cost money, and that is in a finite quantity. There are usable cards which will make life easier with specific attributes (draw an extra protein, shuffle and redrawn proteins), but that also costs money. Run out of money, and mankind runs out of luck and any chance for survival. This is where strategy comes into play.
Proteins are randomly drawn and passed out, four at a time. One slot is a free protein, another costs $1,000, another costs $2,000, and the last costs $4,000. Obviously, it is best to get the proteins as they are cheap, but you can only pick them up if you apply them to a strain - in other words, one can’t hang onto a protein in the event it is needed it later.. Sometimes a player gets lucky and gets the protein he needs. At other times, he is not so lucky, going turn after turn without a protein and ultimately losing the game. This is where luck is the most important factor.
There are also some random events that can impact the progress one makes in the game. Sometimes an intern can mix up all the proteins, changing the costs. At other times, international funding may come through and give a boost in income. Luck (good or bad) strikes again!
It was definitely interesting to be on this end of the disease this time around. It was just as exciting and just as challenging as Pandemic was and every bit as enjoyable, despite the fact that I wasn’t propelling our species into certain Doom. Dare I say it was fun saving humanity? Indeed, I do! It’s a game that is easy to pick up and play and will entertain for hours. So grab your hazmat suit and trusty lab equipment - this is a title you’ll quickly become engrossed in. The cure awaits!