As you may already know, I am a MASSIVE fan of boardgames. I even design them from time to time and rarely do I play a published boardgame that makes me angry, frustrated and annoyed it exists. The same could be said for DIGITAL board games, that almost every game I have played thus far, even some indie digital boardgames, have been pretty spectacular. Designers KNOW they need to bring something totally unique to the (digital) table to be successful.
Publisher: 505 Games
Platforms: PC Steam
TL;DR Quarantine is currently in early acess, but unless it adds more, it’s too shallow a game and far too safe to pay the cost..
WHATS THE STORY?
A number of diseases have broken out all over the world, you control (and can hire) specialists whose mission is to treat disease hot-spots while researching cures for diseases before they get out of hand. Diseases spread randomly throughout the word, though in connection to already diseased cities in a cascade effect. You must stop the disease before the downfall of humankind.
Quarantine provides three different scenarios, each with three different difficulty levels. Easy, die horribly to RNG and HOLY MOTHER MAKE THE BURNING STOP. Sounds like a great start, but the game from there just starts rollin on down hill until it becomes a giant ball of “I think I just want to do something else now, like smash my face in with a hammer”.
When you choose the scenario, and enter the world, the digital game board has some of the major population centers on Earth on the map to show the cities you will be visiting to help fight and cure disease. On each turn you may spend one action per staff member (you start with one staff and 20k in funding) to establish a research station to gain more funds in coming turns (costs 20k income to build), quarantine a city (costs 15k income), treat infected populaces (percentage to take damage), take a disease sample (percentage to take damage) or heal one specialist (though they can’t heal OTHER specialists…because…selfish?) for 50% of health. Each specialist has a bonus to these actions and offer some other bonuses such Security receives less damage, Medic makes operatives gain more XP, Diplomats can build an extra base of operations and Scientists make diseases harder to mutate.
As a free action you may start to discover a cure (the aim of the game is discover the right cure from four, however it takes 2 samples per level to research a single disease) or you can research a “tech” tree to assist you in the game by spending precious cash. The tech tree is there to assist making your specialists better at what they do and assist in fighting disease, this offers up some choices as to where you want that research to go, though I found all of the options to be little more than an added cash drain for little reward.
DISEASES ARE DICE ROLLERS.
Unlike the hottest and best boardgame you could ever play, PANDEMIC, diseases in Quarantine are totally random and insane killers on anything but easy mode. And though this is the core of the game, this is where the game goes from “safe and boring” to “BURN IT AND SALT THE EARTH”.
There are some special events such as a breakout that has special requirements to deal with or even misinformation that you will need to send an security operative in to subdue some nutcase…but its not enough at all to make the game interewsting.
LET ME BE CLEAR, THE GAME ISN’T BROKEN. It works perfectly fine, but there is little to NO strategy here, and this is a strategy game.
Pandemic thrived because there was not only a MULTIPLAYER aspect to the game, but it was a CO-OP game. Meaning that you weren’t one lone soul, commanding an army of scientists, soldiers, doctors and operations people. Pandemic’s diseases spread due to one part luck and one part deck stacking, allowing you to almost control diseases to a degree. In Quarantine, this is all random. There is no special cards you can use for freebies or advanced treatment cards or any of that, another wrong turn.
Or….. Maybe I just want this to be Pandemic, because that game is the best disease game ever made and you would be hard pressed to make a better version. Other than Pandemic Legacy.
Certain death due to RNG
The screen below is what you can expect to see on Medium or Hard. The diseases damage you operatives and you will have to use your healing just to stay in the game, meaning the disease will break out of controls and kill you. And kill you. AND KILL YOU.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Graphics and music are extremely basic and bland. There are no little animations on text screens, and no sounds when you save or let a city doe a horrible death. Could screaming when a city falls or cheering when you save a city be so hard? Menus to get info can get very clicky and the map is so damn basic that you could have put some of the information from menus, such as people waiting to be hired, on the main map screen.
This game carries a price tag of $14.00 USD and I wish I could say at that price, it was worth it. It’s not. When you take a game with a premise that is LIKE Pandemic, but then NEUTER the best aspect of that game and have zero multiplayer, you totally destroy what makes a game like that so great. All the discussion and the push/pull of a co-op is what really cements that sort of game in a lot of minds. Hell, even if the graphics were better and the soundscape was great I will still tell you to skip this game because it’s too safe, no meaningful decisions to make, no fun and zero multiplayer.
Co-op with 3 other players would make me re-think my position, but ultimately the game just has far too much RNG for me to want to play it again and again.