Year Made: 2014
Platforms: PC, OS X, Xbox One, Android, iOS
Price: Free on mobile devices (expansions and content can be purchased at any time)
Content Areas: Science, Social Studies
Suggested Age Level: Middle School, High School
Play Length: 20-30 mins (really depends on difficulty level)
Number of Players: Single Player (Multiplayer will be added later)
Difficulty Rating: Easy
In April, we reviewed the board game Pandemic and commended it for giving students a problem to solve, encouraging cooperation, and allowing for real-world connections to science through finding cures for four in-game diseases. Ndemic Creations took the exact opposite approach to its video game Plague Inc Evolved and still created a game that can make anyone excited about a real-world application of what they learned in a biology or environmental science class. This time, however, players are the pathogen, not the doctors, and the goal is to destroy all of humankind before they destroy you. Building off of their mobile game Plague Inc, Ndemic Creations added several features to Plague Inc Evolved and brought it to PC, OS X, and even Xbox One. Both the original mobile game and its updated counterpart have the same gameplay: players select the pathogen of their choice (bacteria, virus, fungus, parasite, and more), choose their country of origin, then race to infect as many people as possible by evolving their disease to stay ahead of any developing cure or research. This review will focus primarily on Plague Inc Evolved, but the core game is the same between the two.
The Evolved version of the game for PC, OS X, and eventually Xbox One is still in beta, so a lot of the elements I was excited to try are currently unavailable. For anyone looking for features like multiplayer or a tutorial, they will have to wait for now as the game continues evolving. However, there is still more than enough to interest players and encourage them to run multiple simulations.
Rather obviously, Plague Inc Evolved makes itself as at home in a science class as a parasite in a host. From a factual standpoint, Plague Inc Evolved can allow students to explore the differences between different types of pathogens, ways of transmitting disease, and severity of symptoms. Beyond the facts, every playthrough of Plague Inc Evolved feels like an experiment. Students could observe what the real world is like, hypothesize what will happen in their game, then run a test and see the results without ever actually unleashing a deadly disease on the world. Students would even have the resources to possibly run further experiments and tests at home from their phone or computer, leading to data collection extending beyond a normal class period. Students could take their learning a step further in the scenario builder and challenge each other to create worlds that mimic other real-world diseases or create worlds for their classmates to attempt.
Interestingly, Plague Inc Evolved could also be used in a social studies classroom for a topic such as human geography. As our world had become more and more connected, students could use the game to see one of the negative side effects: the swift spread of disease from one end of the world to the other. Several scenarios limit this travel and students could see how likely or unlikely their disease is to spread if not given the chance to leave its country of origin. Plague Inc Evolved provides an excellent crossover between a social studies and science class and the short playthroughs allow students the chance to play again and gain different outcomes to discuss in both classes.
While it would be nice to have all of the features available now, we will just have to be patient and enjoy the game as it is now, whether in mobile form or on a computer or console. I am certain it will prove worth the wait. In Plague Inc Evolved, battling humanity itself through critical thinking, problem solving, and experimenting proves to be just as contagious as the epidemic it creates.
Educational Rating: 7/8
(Classroom Tech Friendly, Motivation, Concrete Learning, Additional Skills, Feedback, Difficulty, Accessibility, Extension)
Overall Rating: 7/8
(Immersion, Environment, Storyline, Replayability, Entertainment, Gameplay, Originality, User Control)
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