Hands-on With Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp
One of the advantages of writing this, and other, blogs is that I sometimes hoodwink developers into letting me see what they're working on before anyone else. It gives me a sense of power, which should indicate just how insignificant I am in real life.
This time the victim is HexWar Games, which is usually a developer of hex-based war games. Here, they joined up with Victory Point Games to bring their solitaire world-saver, Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp to iOS.
If you've played the board game before, I really think you're going to love this. The graphics are quite beautiful and the UI is fantastic, taking a page from Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy and having non-essential information off the screen and available via sliding trays. You also have a ton of options when starting a game to make the game as hard as you want, although why you'd want it any harder is beyond me. It's tough.
If you haven't played the game before, it might take you a bit to get up to speed. I'll explore that in a bit.
Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp follows the patterns set forth by most solitaire/cooperative games: you take your turn and try to do happy things, then the game craps all over you. On your turn you will collect proteins and attempt to create antibodies to combat the various strains of the disease in your petri dish. You can place up to 2 proteins per turn, as well as buy new equipment or scientists to give you special powers. Then, the game checks to see if the disease spreads and whether or not the disease mutates. That's the crapping all over you part. It sucks.
Each turn also has events that can trigger, which alter how the game rules work on that turn and keep the game from feeling like you're doing the same thing over and over.
Winning occurs when all the strains of the disease are eliminated by creating the correct antibodies. Losing occurs when all of humanity is dead, no more proteins are available, or there are so many strains of the disease that your petri dish is full. Prepare to experience those last three much more than eliminating all the strains.
The game is incredibly tense, frustrating, and, if you're lucky, rewarding. Pretty much everything you could hope for from a fantastic solo/cooperative games.
The issues that new players might have don't involve figuring out how to play--there is a tutorial, albeit a short one--but what's going on behind the scenes. If you've played the cardboard version, you're familiar with what causes the disease to spread, and what can affect that dice roll. All of that is hidden in the digital version, so new players will wonder why the disease spreads or doesn't spread each turn. This can be especially frustrating when you have a scientist that helps you stop outbreaks, but outbreaks keep occurring. Veterans will know that the scientist is giving you a +2 to a d6 roll, but newbies will wonder why the hell the outbreaks keep happening.
It's not as bad as I make it sound, but my first few games leaned more toward frustration than fun. Once I figured out what was going on (by downloading the rules), everything clicked into place. Also, I spoke to the developer about the hidden rolls and such, and he mentioned that the rolls might be able to be made more apparent in an early patch.
HexWar is a week or two away from submitting to Apple, but they're fully expecting the game to be released simultaneously for PC/Mac and iOS Universal sometime around mid-June. Android is a possibility, but that would be down the road. Way down the road.
We'll keep you up to date with any new information about Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp all the way to its release date in June.
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