It’s always nice to do something with the rest of the team. When it’s possible to peel them away from their screens and get some sense out of them, that is. This being said, I thought I’d give them something to think about other than what they’re all playing. Each week I’m going to be asking the guys and gals a question in the hopes I might get a semi-sensible answer. Our first outing with this is going to be somewhat … apt …
With all this Corona stuff going about at the moment I decided to ask the gang what their favorite game is that’s either about or has a story that started with a virus or illness. Interestingly, I didn’t just get given a massive list of horror games and I’m not struggling to get out from under a pile of zombies, either. Nicely done! Shall we see what they had to say? I will obviously be answering my own question as well because talking to yourself is a thing; as long as you don’t get an answer, you’re fine.
One last obvious point before we get on with it. There may or may not be spoilers for the following games. If you want to play any of these and don’t want to know anything about them simply skip that entry and move on. Those of you who are reading this as a whole … no complaints, thank you, you have been warned.
GARETT MEFFORD: FAR CRY 2
My first instinct, naturally, was to think of a zombie game, but Far Cry 2 really applies the illness of malaria as an interesting gameplay mechanic. You’re a mercenary in Africa that through certain events is infected with malaria at the beginning of the story, and it’s a passive game mechanic throughout. While you’re exploring the open world, you need to keep your health in mind and find medicine to alleviate the blinding symptoms and potentially deadly side effects that occur due to the illness.
EMILY MULLIS: DARKWOOD
Darkwood is a unique horror game that does not rely on jump scares but instead focuses on how to disturb the player through sounds and images as they explore the bleak and sick forest.
The sickness of the forest in Darkwood directly affects humans and animals living in it, which makes me think that there is a lesson to be learned here regarding how we treat our own forests. Providing players with an almost fairytale view of disease, we see how the plague affects both the land and the living, making it so that none are immune, not even the main protagonists. Players must survive the forest and try to escape while fending off savages and beasts as a continual sense of dread haunts every shadow and abandoned home. Though not a realistic plague we expect to experience at any time, it is a dark reminder that some situations are inescapable and that is the true horror of this game.
ARTHUR DAMIAN: THE LAST OF US
The Last of Us is an incredible experience. It’s beautifully shot and wonderfully paced; in fact, it might be the best shot/paced videogame of all time.
The game’s emphasis is on a pandemic wreaking havoc on humanity. Interestingly, its focus isn’t on the how and why of the disease (a parasitic fungal infection) but the fallout from it. The Last of Us centers on how humans are surviving among the afflicted and each other. Players get to see the hopefulness of camaraderie juxtaposed with the darkest parts of mortals striving for the survival of the fittest. It’s a somber reminder of how similar real life can get during trying times (though the reality isn’t quite as scary).
CODY SHULTS: RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2
At the turn of the 20th century, we were still grasping the fundamentals of modern medicine. Tuberculosis was identified as a disease caused by bacterial infection prior to the year that RDR2 was set in (1899), but with the understanding of antibiotics in its infancy, our beloved Arthur never stood a chance. We tend to play games where the main character is basically invincible, either riding off into the sunset in the end or finally taking one too many bullets and passing on the torch for the sequel. This ending was different — slowly succumbing to a disease that was rampant at the time, resulting in the untimely deaths of nearly 25% of Europeans at its height in the 1800s. His weakened state leading to his demise was an emotional moment for many and an unforgettable moment in videogames this past decade.
DEREK DANIELEWSKI: BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM
I’m gonna go with Batman: Arkham Asylum. It’s all about the mentally deranged, seriously sick patients that inhabit the Island. Batman investigates and fights the various inhabitants, solving puzzles and getting out of traps laid for him. Really good game, lots of fun to play.
JONATHAN CRAWFORD: SUNSET OVERDRIVE
What’s really scary about Sunset Overdrive is that it could really happen! When Fizzco, an evil soda corporation, releases its new soda without testing it, consumers are turned into mutants! The player explores an open world with a parkour transversal system that can be best described as a mixture of Spider-Man and Tony Hawk. Use insane guns to mow down mutants as you proceed through hilarious and nonsensical story missions in order to escape the hot zone. Anyone who has visited Cosco in the past 6 days should feel right at home in this mutant-filled, apocalyptic adventure!
PETER DAUBERT: DARK SOULS 3
You wanna talk about illness, you can talk about many different kinds. Personal, metaphorical, or even widespread pandemic style darkness which infests the world as we know it. Creating but a select few humans remaining who are all fighting for an existence that they will ultimately never achieve as the world continues the cycle of fire. Ya know, normal stuff. Dark Souls 3 specifically is my favorite in the series, in which you’re trying desperately to heal the world that just won’t stop killing you.
ALEX SOUTHGATE: PLAGUE INC
In many of the games mentioned, people have for whatever reason been on the receiving end of something viral and nasty. Let’s take this from a different angle, shall we? How about being the virus?
In Plague Inc, your objective is simple. All you need to do is kill off the entire world before it can find a cure for your virus. This sees you spending points to mutate it to become resistant to factors such as temperature. You need to decide how your illness will be transmitted and of course, what it’s symptoms are going to be.
Will you create something that will do very little initially and won’t cause any or few deaths until you want it to, then make your victims go insane and bleed from their eye sockets? Go this route and governments won’t do anything about it until it’s too late but the environment might kill you off before you can become strong enough. The other way up is to have people dropping like flies but then the world will want to do something about it pretty quickly. This game is fiendishly difficult, very addictive, and from my recollection free, so no reason not to give it a whirl.
There you have it! It’s not the cheeriest theme to start things off with but a fitting one, nonetheless. We’ll be back next week talking about something a little bit different. Have fun until next time!
Hailing from Southport England, Alex started his gaming career in the late 80s on a Commodore 64. Since that time he's either owned or played on virtually every console released. Alex happens to...