Plague Days: All the Realism of an Apocalypse with Absolutely None of the Fun
Everyone loves a good apocalypse. Zombies, asteroids, illness, we all believe that somehow, we would survive. Maybe even thrive. The end times are just a new adventure with fewer people. Credit, then, Brilliant Games Private Ltd. for having the balls to make their latest offering so impossibly boring. Plague Days is exactly as slowly paced and joyless as the end of the world will be.
The End of the World
A plucky group of survivors has ridden out a world-wide pandemic in the basement of a motel. They hear a radio broadcast informing them that earth can again sustain life. The motel owner, an old man in a wheelchair, leads the group. The motel serves as a sort of home base, as the group collects supplies.
As we Know it
Plague Days is a pretty straight forward point-and-click. A green line shows you where to guide your character–the old man at the motel, someone more fleet of foot when you venture off base. Little gears pop up above areas where you need to complete a task. That task, more often than not will be “destroy this trash pile”.
A simple set-up is not inherently bad, however, waiting is the vast majority of gameplay. After clicking, the game tells you the task is in progress and notifies you when it is complete. Click the trash pile, then “Destroy”, “Confirm” and then another “Confirm”. You have to confirm twice that you want to destroy the trash pile, despite there being absolutely no possible negative repercussions to doing so.
And that is it. There is no interesting visual component. The act of destruction, after four clicks, becomes a little note in the corner of your screen, telling you that it’s happening, and then, that it’s happened. All of the tasks are like this.
And I Feel Fine?
The mind-numbing dullness of Plague Days might be forgivable if its world were exciting to explore. Unfortunately, it is emphatically not. In its continued commitment to accuracy, the setting is blank, and the visuals are dull as hell.
The character design, on the other hand, is relatively arresting in the opening scenes that explain the set-up. Perversely, those opening, expository scenes are the game’s apex. They look great, and the dialogue is absolutely, wonderfully incomprehensible. Imagine a 1950’s atomic fear horror movie put through Google translate 6 different times. The end result isn’t good, but it is entertaining.
A game, however, is made to be played. And the gameplay for Plague Days lacks both fun and stakes. It is never clear what your end goal is. There is no sense of danger or threat. In a perfect metaphor for itself, if you explore the full boundaries of the world, the screen becomes black. Plague Days itself is barely trying. Why should any player?
Is It Hardcore?
Not at all.
Plague Days has a weird and intriguing opening hook. But if the actual playing part of playing a game isn’t fun at all, the game has failed. Plague Days makes you wonder if surviving the apocalypse wasn’t a mistake.