Plague Inc. is a wildly popular Android/iOS title, which has been lovingly ported to Windows Phone 8.1.
In Plague Inc. you play as, well, a plague, and your goal is to infect and ultimately wipe out humanity. You do this by evolving symptoms to attack the population and evolving defences against different climates, regional environments, and eventually global efforts to find a cure.
I've been beta testing Plague Inc. for a while now, and I've obliterated my old Lumia 1020's battery due to its infectiously addictive gameplay.
Infect the world
Plague Inc. takes place on a world map, and it's up to you to destroy civilisation. In order to do this, Plague Inc. offers you various virulent tools, which present themselves progressively throughout a pandemic. Once you've chosen your starting nation for infection, you begin accruing DNA points, these points allow you to evolve your plague in various nefarious ways.
Each type of plague has its own unique traits. For example; Bacteria are resistant to different climates, they'll survive well in the dry heat of North Africa and the blustery dampness of good old England - but they mutate less often than other types of plague. Mutations add symptoms to your diseases without spending DNA points, and they occur at random. Viral plagues mutate at a breakneck pace, but can reveal themselves to doctors more easily if you're not careful. There are 7 overall to choose from, and you can unlock them with regular play over time or via a reasonable one-off micro-transaction.
Whichever plague you pick, when a nation-state detects your plague they begin to work on a cure. The game becomes a beat-the-clock scenario at that point, forcing you to make more rapid decisions. The trick is to infect as many people as possible avoiding detection, and then ramping up your symptoms and lethality.
From virulence to victory
Some of the symptoms you can evolve are pretty grim, and can produce even grimmer combos. Combining anaemia with insomnia causes "The Walking Dead" combo which decreases cure research rates; vomiting and coughing produces projectile vomiting, which as you might expect, increases infection rates. There's a whole bunch to discover, in addition to discoverable DNA mutations which help you customise your plague at the start of a game. These can also be discovered with regular play or unlocked instantly with a one-off payment.
As you infect more people, you gain more DNA points allowing you to defend against the global response to your plague. Unless you're using the DNA modifier to auto-tap DNA bubbles, you can claim DNA points every time a yellow or red bubble appears on-screen with a quick tap.
Once detected, nations may start eradicating your methods of transmission, from killing rats, handing out purified water and so on. Eventually research teams will fly around the world to study your plague, presenting blue bubbles for tapping. Doing so slows down their research progress and gives you even more DNA points.
You can adapt your plague in various ways to sabotage humanity; from scrambling your DNA to make a cure harder to find, to increasing your infectivity through symptoms and other forms of transmission and even targeting the weaknesses of nations who are spearheading cure funding. Eventually though, the world will conspire against you to the point where lethality is your only option.
To help you, Plague Inc. allows you to view data on different world regions, as well as offering frequent news bulletins (some of which are for pure comedy value). For example, if nations begin eradicating insects and that's your primary method of transmission, it might be wise to switch to another form of transmission, by becoming airborne or infectious to birds.
You can also discover which nations are providing research against your plague, as well as information on how best to infect them. As an example; a wealthy urban country like the UK is more susceptible to rodent transmission, and evolving resistances to cold and humid climates will help you eradicate the population and collapse the British government.
Plague Inc. on Windows Phone is a stellar port of a stellar game. It has 4.5 stars across 1,796,354 reviews on Google Play, and 4.5 stars across 129,455 Ratings on the Apple Store. While it doesn't support the native resolutions of all Lumia handsets (as you can see from the screenshots captured on my 930 above), there isn't a hint of crashing or lag and Ndemic Creations have been diligent in responding to feedback in the beta program.
Plague Inc. is also tipped to hit Xbox One in the future with a port of its expanded PC version: Plague Inc. Evolved. There's a missed opportunity to sync Plague Inc. for Windows Phone and the future Xbox One version, but who knows what the future will bring - providing we aren't all killed by a super virus in the meanwhile.