Before it hit mobile devices, Dark Realm Studios’ Pandemic 2 was a complex flash game that pit players against the world as deadly viruses, evolving so quickly that even the most brilliant scientists find themselves outmatched. Pandemic 2.5, a considerable update from the infection sim’s beginnings, is an interesting specimen, but unfortunately it doesn’t engage enough to hold new players’ attention.
The premise is interesting enough. You begin in a randomly-assigned locale in a particular section of the world, with the intention of crossing borders into new areas of the country, eventually (hopefully) conquering the world. You can choose between a parasite, deadly virus, or new strain of bacteria. You can even name yourself– something menacing, hopefully– and then it’s off to a speedy start. Depending on which form of contagion you choose, you’re awarded different boons and power-ups, so it’s prudent to evaluate which form better fits your needs as a player.
It’s the end of the world as we know it.
Then it’s time to begin spreading, infecting every poor soul who dares stand in your way. As you cross into new territories and take out more of the population, you’re awarded an in-game currency of sorts known as EvoPoints. Think of them as spending money required to grow and evolve your virus, bacterium, or parasite.
There are a multitude of options available for upgrading and expanding. For example, you can increase symptom types, or even infect different types of life forms to see you spread your malicious seed even further. As you reach even deadlier heights, you’ll be faced with newer challenges.
Human beings are obviously your worst enemy, and once they catch wind of what your particular strain is trying to do, they’ll scramble to jump-start vaccine programs and other precautions to keep you out of their country. It’s a good idea to hold onto your precious EvoPoints and bide your time, so as to keep those pesky humans in the dark and not to arouse suspicion.
Now that’s a good-looking genome.
Pandemic 2.5 sounds quite dramatic and edge-of-your-seat, but the reality of it is you spend most of your time waiting for things to happen. The game itself, while very simple and colorful, isn’t that exciting to look at or watch.
In addition, it does very little by way of attempting to explain its intricacies to new players. There are online documents aplenty to check with and an included reference sheet that both aim to answer burning questions, but it’s simply an uphill battle when it comes to attempting to decipher what you need to do with this ambitious 99-cent game. It could certainly benefit from an extended tutorial mode, or at the very least, more detailed instructions for players who missed it when it was still just a fledgling flash game.
Aside from the confusing entry barrier and muddling pace, Pandemic 2.5 is an interesting concept that allows players to pick apart life and death as one of those organic life forms we all dread dealing with. As a game that explores deadly viruses and terrifying new strains of bacteria, it could benefit from injecting a little more life into its system.