Quarantine is simulation-strategy game developed by Sproing and published by 505 games, not to be confused with the Quarantine of 1994 that was a racing/fps game. In an almost reverse role of Plague Inc. you take control of an XCOM like team called Pan-Def, quarantining, treating and finally creating a cure for a pandemic crisis. Fighting against bacteria, viruses and prions, this short game aims to give you a few minutes of enjoyment, but will it last?
With every early access game, the story isn’t always the best, at the forefront or even a concern for developers, showing off their gameplay and mechanics before all else. Quarantine is no different, giving you a short cutscene in the beginning basically outlining your task, to find what is killing so many people and putting a stop to it. You control the director of Pandemic Defense, given a budget for each turn to hire new members of your team and to spend on operations in the field.
The game currently has a tutorial mission, showing you what the buttons do as well as the outcome of actions. From there we are given 3 short campaigns, around 10-40 turns in length to fight against Bacteria, Virus and Prion respectively. Each campaign has a different set of conditions, from faster movement from city to city or increased infection within cities. To complete the 4 options right now will take about an hour. There is little replayability on offer, besides 3 difficulty settings and 19 achievements to unlock.
Quarantine gives you a map of the world and 40+ pins to represent major cities of the world, with their current infection level and status. A lot of all gameplay is centred on your mouse, hover over a city, left click to see more information on it and select an operation to undertake in that city. You start with 1 member of your team, hiring new members at 30k each. You end the turn with spacebar or clicking the end turn button, giving you income and progressing the infection.
When selecting a city you have 5 operations to undertake: Establishing an office costs 20k but generates 10k per turn. Quarantining a city gives it 2 defence points and protects against infection for 2 turns where it would get infected, costing 15k. Treating a city will decrease infection by 1 point. Sampling will collect infection samples to work on creating a cure. Healing an operative will heal 50-100% of their total health. As you get past the first part of the game you will mostly stick to Quarantine and Treatment.
With any early access game, there will be easy ways to play and hard ways before balancing comes into play. With Quarantine you can select techs that increase your effectiveness in the field, from decreased damage from operations to stopping the infection from progressing too fast. On the second line of techs, you can make it so when you treat a city they are “cured” until infected again, meaning you can complete the game without ever developing a real cure, allowing you to finish missions in 20 turns or less pretty easily.
As you play through the game, your members will gain exp to level up to level 3, gaining a buff to their class skill. Security take less damage, scientists collect more samples, medics heal more infection and diplomats create offices for 10k less. Diplomats lose their effectiveness after you’ve gotten all 4 offices, meaning you should fire those and hire someone else. You can hire 2 of each class, to a total of 4 members in your team, with an additional member of a class being chosen at the start of a campaign.
Overall thoughts and feelings
The music in Quarantine is very fitting to the setting, with a slight futuristic theme and a backdrop of sadder tones thrown in. The one track that plays for the majority of looking at your map is great, but too much of a great thing tends to sour the experience. I didn’t really hear much of a soundtrack from this game, 1 or 2 tracks stood out the most and the music just fell behind into the background too easily. Marketed as an intense turn-based game, the music fails to emphasise this point.
Sadly Quarantine feels too much like a flash game, similar to ones you’d find on Newgrounds, though this comparison fits well with Plague Inc. as well. The game is too straight forward, dulling into choosing 1 or 2 options every turn and waiting for the cure to be developed or your tech allowing you to clear out the infection manually. With 5 options, 2 of which are only done once or every so often, the game lacks enough variety in gameplay. Giving us a map, telling us to click on it, and giving us text and sound effects of the outcomes of our actions, it all just ends in disappointment.
Hopefully the development and feedback from players will help to improve the current state of Quarantine, but as of now I suggest giving it a look and possibly waiting for later patches and updates. £10 for this game might be too much for something that will excite you for a half hour or so.
Quarantine was Previewed on PC via Steam