I’ve had some limited experience with Infectonator up until now, mainly on Android. The premise is similar to that of Plague.inc, in that the player has to infect as many healthy humans as possible, effectively killing them. This is where the two games (partially) diverge though, as Infectonator dead’uns turn into zombies who, in turn, kill and infect even more people. As a crazed scientist of sorts, you have to oversee the infection. The developers’ latest offering is a tad different though.
Aside from being released on Steam, Infectonator: Survivors is also a significantly bigger game, compared to its mobile predecessors, even at its current stage of development. Having been released in Early Access a while back, the game is ramping up for early 2016 release, and this preview is based on what’s currently implemented.
I would be a liar if I said this game isn’t fun. There’s a great amount of hit feedback present as each of your survivors lands a shot upon the dreaded un-creatures. Infectonator: Survivors plays like a theoretically clever combination of survival, RTS and tower-defense games, and thus doesn’t have much in the way of competition, aside from Dungeon of the Endless, which is phenomenal in its own right. However, the initial fun-factor wanes all too quickly. There’s a fair few scenarios already implemented, some of which feature obnoxious Youtube celebrities, while others pack beloved Valve characters to boot. From what I’ve seen so far, the only real difference comes in the way of equipment your crew carries at first, with the rest of the game playing much the same regardless of your starting choice.
Naturally, I picked the Left 4 Dead character combo first. Francis, Bill, Zoey and Louis come well-equipped, with a shotgun and a sub-machine gun which both come in hand once bigger zombie hordes come barging into the levels. There’s a central hub of sorts present, where characters can take a break, work on developing new weapons and/or tend to the garden. The meta-game, as it currently stands, serves as one of the only incentives to keep moving through the levels, because it’s painfully clear that the game as a whole has a fair few issues to its name.
Aside from the issues that spring up due to the game not telling you just how important, say, supplies are (the more people you have in your crew, the more supplies you spend with each passing day), my biggest problem lies in the fact that Infectonator: Survivors becomes highly repetitive way too fast for the given entry fee. I’ve played it for about half an hour before having had enough of the whole thing. The characters who you wish to take out into the field depart from the hub and then move into the randomly generated city to scrounge for ammunition, weaponry, fuel and supplies, as well as other assorted items which all come in handy at one stage or the other. The thing is, this procedure nearly always boils down to the same damned thing. There are two ‘screens’ in which you have to move your characters around and loot the sparkling objects, while zombies keep coming in ever-increasing numbers. Once you’ve (easily) dealt with those, the only thing you’ve got to do is enter the given building, kill/loot some more, albeit this time without an obnoxious time limit, and then you’re out and about. Now, no matter how fun core gameplay may well be, this becomes overbearing almost instantly, and I’m hopeful the developers handle this better by the time the game goes gold.
Regarding the gameplay itself, the only real dread comes from the fact that players are time-limited for the most of their raids. Of the three “stages” I mentioned above, only the last one allows you to actually play at your own pace, whereas the first two demand of you to loot as much as you can in what is almost always not enough time. The gathered loot is also completely tied to RNG, which means you’ll lose two or three rolls each and every time, due to the game forcing you to move on in a matter of seconds upon spawning into the level. I understand the reasoning behind this feature – I think – but it angers me and makes the game more of a chore than it actually is.
To sum the entire experience up, Infectonator: Survivors has a whole bunch of good ideas. Great, even. The execution, however, is faulty even at this point. The game’s slated release date is early 2016, but six more months of extensive development wouldn’t go amiss, I feel. If nothing changes, the worst thing is that the game had plenty of potential that got squandered by the developers. It’s also too expensive for what it offers, and makes me wonder whether the trust I previously gave to its makers for their Android releases is deserved. Hopefully the situation turns around, however, and Infectonator: Survivors turns into a game it’s supposed to be.
As it currently stands, I can only quote one of the people who reviewed the game on Steam: “You’re paying $12+ for a game that is two steps removed from being free on Newgrounds.“