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Quarantine Review

December 20th, 2017 by

Quarentine 001Strategy based games based on preventing a new disease taking over the world (or playing as the outbreak) are commonplace these days – particularly with the rise of mobile friendly versions of the genre. First available in early access, Quarantine is undeniably slick in presentation, but hasn’t mutated enough to seem fresh.

The premise is simple – fans of tabletop/flash phenomena both called Pandemic might recognise it. Starting with a single team member you are tasked with preventing a disease outbreak spreading across the world. In order to do this, the core balancing act is making sure the investment efforts to find a cure don’t prevent containment efforts that lead to the disease taking over new cities – and destroying those that it has already infected.

Essentially a turn based strategy game, each day you must select an action for your team members. These actions are broken down into treat, quarantine, collect a sample, build a new base, or heal (from damage taken in previous turns). Your team make-up is important to assist in your efforts as each class has a bonus in these actions – the diplomat can build bases for less money, the scientist collects an extra sample at each attempt.

The key issue with the gameplay is that two units are vastly superior in how helpful they are. The medic can treat the outbreak, lowering the level of disease in infected cities; whilst the security unit is more effective at quarantining cities – preventing further spreading. Employ these units effectively and you are unlikely to need the others.

The world map shows you where all the action is, and halfway through I was reminded of the time I spent playing Risk: Urban Assault. The issue is that unlike Risk, there’s little personality to the disease you’re fighting, given that all of your opponent’s moves are randomised. This lack of narrative makes it hard to derive much enjoyment from your campaign as you slowly crush the last remnants of Ebola and you know you’re going to win.

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The currency elements of the game are limited too. Whilst in the opening few rounds money is tight. Build one (or even two) extra bases and you’ll soon find that you’ve much more than you’ll ever need, almost completely removing the need for the diplomat. When the flash events come up (a senior politician demands a cure in London/riot at the medical centre in Cairo) I found that I always had enough money to throw at the problem.

Completing a scenario requires researching the cure. This has to happen one stage at a time, meaning that there’s no rush to collect samples, (the currency required), given there’s no ability to throw caution to the wind and rush a cure. Researching new tech is also constrained to one effort at a time – each taking 4 turns to complete. Not being able to pay for faster research or dedicate units to that pursuit limits the number of tactics available to you.

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Whilst there are different types of diseases to contend with, and a hard mode difficulty spike that completely destroyed my patience, Quarantine suffers from a severe lack of depth. As a steam game that promises loads of different variations in playthrough, I can’t shrug the feeling that it would have been a great mobile game. On that note, Plague inc. is a great example of a fun commute killer (the only real difference being you are on the side of the disease). For a fraction of the price and the ability to play on the loo – on this occasion it’s better to be the bad guy.

Midlife Gamer Rating: 5/10     Format:  Steam    Release Date: Out Now

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Quarantine by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 5 days. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

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