Quarantine (2017) puts the fate of the world in your hands. If that’s not enough pressure to pile on you, I’m not sure what is. A turn-based strategy game, it makes you take tough decisions and think a few steps ahead. At its most extreme, one wrong move can cost you the game.
We say the fate of the world lays in your hands, but that’s only at the beginning. As each game progresses, you can recruit more team members to help stem the spread of infection. You can recruit scientists to research cures, security specialists to add some back-up in infected areas and control riots. Recruiting members to your team costs money, of which you have very little to begin with. Building offices in cities throughout the world can help to bring in cash flow, but not by much. Quarantine rarely feels as though you’re given enough cash to enact your plans fully. Given how rapidly diseases can spread, this can frustrate and situations can run away from you.
The goal is to find a cure before the virus spreads globally and Quarantine can vary in how challenging it can be. It can punish you severely for making the wrong move, or it will let you off the hook. For the inexperienced, this could become frustrating but players who become savvy to the A.I will often be able to predict its next move. That said, it is fun to play and you never feel as though the odds are in your favour, leading to a real ‘race against time’ style of play.
The interface is straightforward and easy to understand. You are presented with a world map and all major cities dotted about. Each city is interconnected by criss-crossing lines. The cities are represented by individual icons which have several slots which fill up as the virus spreads. Once all slots are filled, the city is lost, and the more slots that are filled, the harder and more dangerous it is for your team members to operate. Outside of the turn-based play, Quarantine will spring random events on you, such as an uprising of a religious sect or antibiotics no longer being readily available. You can then choose one of several options to resolve the situation, depended on the team members you have to work with, and the option with the highest success rate costing more money to perform. It is a system that tries to humanise the city icons on your map but does little to add any real depth. At times, it can become a bit of an annoyance when you are trying to spend your resources wisely.
To assist the turn-to-turn gameplay, you are given a skill tree from which you can purchase upgrades, with the most effective becoming available after several turns. Strategically, it would have been beneficial to have them available immediately, or at the next turn at least, as the scope of the situation could change drastically three or four turns down the line.
Graphically, Quarantine is unimpressive but it doesn’t need to be a technical powerhouse to work. Overall, it has a clean presentation and everything on screen is easy to read and understand. The game zones in on areas that are about to fall to the virus and require immediate attention, and perilous locations pulsate red on the map. Visually, it behaves how you would expect – there are no technical treats to be found here. There is also one song-track played on a continuous loop, comprised of synthetic beats. The music is good but some variety would have been beneficial and preventing the audio from becoming samey.
It’s the length of each match that most hinders the experience and there are only around five or six viruses to contend with. More seasoned strategy gamers won’t find the short-burst gameplay to satisfy, but more casual players may find this the most appealing. That said, for the price of £6.99, the quantity of gameplay is justified. Though after you’ve seen what Quarantine has to offer, there is little incentive to return.