Quarantine is a turn-based strategy game developed by Sproing and Published by 505 Games that puts you as the Director of Pandemic Defense an international biosecurity agency charged to respond to and eradicate deadly contagious threats. In short, there’s one hell of a nasty cold going about and it’s up to you to stop it.
Quarantine is pretty cheap going at around £7 and you can get an impressive 40% off for a few days as well, but just how good is it? Does it make you feel like Sam Daniels or Robby Keough from Outbreak? Well, we armed ourselves with Paracetamol and Lemsip and dived right in.
When you start a new game, you’re asked which of the five threats you want to combat (bacteria, virus, fungus, prion and more recently Ebola), and the difficulty level. The difficulty level dictates the level of aggression, the risks of operation and your general success chance for doing most things. Finally, you choose your first agent, which then dictates the free tech resource you start the game with. I choose ‘Bacteria’, ‘Easy’ and Scientist (that gave me improved operative healing). The other starter techs are reduced damage, increase to medical samples taken and accelerated training.
Quarantine is turn based which, rather obviously alternates between your turn where you try to put in measures to stop the contagion, and the contagion turn where it does it’s best to spread, mutate and infect the entire planet. Each turn, the contagion will either attempt to infect new cities or increase the infection level of currently infected cities will become stronger. If the infection becomes too strong in any one city then you’ll have trouble getting rid of it.
Once it’s your turn you can perform one action with each agent, with success being higher when you use the right type of agent for the given action.
- You can set up an office. An office provides regular cash which your agency can use to quarantine areas, and hire more agents. (Diplomat)
- You can treat the contagion, which lowers the overall level of infection within a city. (Containment)
- You can set up a quarantine, which will shield the city against two further infection increases. (Security)
- You can take a research sample (We’ll get to this but these samples allow you to research the illness, to find the cure. (Scientist)
- You can heal the agent to re-coup some of the health lost by being in an infected city.
- You can move a limited number of squares to perform these actions but if you can’t reach an infected city you can move closer as your action for the turn.
As you progress through the game you can unlock technology advances. These advances take a while to develop (well, 4 turns) but when active they provide significant benefits to the agency (or penalties to the disease). Tech advancements include reducing the contagions rate of infection, or the amount of money the offices generate, you can even change the mutation rate of the disease. You won’t be able to complete many scenarios without investing in your technology.
The most important thing to any game of Quarantine, certainly if you want to win, is to invest in research for a cure. As you travel the globe quarantining areas and lowering infections, you need to make sure you take specimen samples. These samples are used to conduct research into the eradication of the disease.
Each contagion is composed of a several parts, each one being a researchable item. Now, you can’t expect to figure out how to cure a disease without having any samples, and samples can only be taken from infected cities. So, if you want to cure the disease your agents have to get a little dirty. Each research item takes a number of samples to purchase and four days to investigate. Once you’ve researched the contagion you’ve won the game, simple.
Well, not quite. Remember I told you about the contagion mutating? Well, if the disease gets too out of hand then it mutates, and will create a new side-effect and more things to research. So, keep up that research, and keep the infection down otherwise the human race is doomed.
Plus, at any given point situations may arise that you have to handle. From legal and supply to riots and security issues. Each option has a success chance, and you’ll have to live with the consequences. Should you withhold the populace’s access to a drug? That rioting city, should it be quarantined or supported, the choice is yours.
Once of the better parts of Quarantine is that it doesn’t take long to have a turn. Sure, there’s definitely something to long, fantastically intricate turns that can take minutes to take, but Quarantine generally has things happening pretty quickly. With a handful of very distinct actions, you can hammer through your turns pretty quickly.
When we look at the sound and graphics of Quarantine, sure you’re not going to be talking about them for weeks on end, but the style and screen layout fits. It’s not a game designed to showcase cutting edge graphics, but what it does bring is a clear and simple to use interface and clear and no-nonsense visuals.
I’m getting to be a big fan of this game, even after having my ass handed back to me by trying to win on the hardest setting for Ebola. Let’s just say, if the Earth depending on me saving it from a world-wide pandemic, my history is more than a little sketchy. Regardless, this is a great game for a great price and well worth picking up, especially at the reduced cost.
Grab Quarantine from the official Steam site here