Within the natural order of the world, we are always under the threat of some new pathogen or disease evolving to eradicate the human race from existence. With new strains of bacteria becoming increasingly resilient to penicillin, as well as other medicines, it’s a very real threat to our existence; forcing chemists the world over to constantly create and evolve new ways in combating these diseases. It’s a premise that’s explored within the award winning board game Pandemic from Z-Man Games. However, thanks to Asmodee Digital and F2Z Digital Media, we can all do our bit with this digital version of the hit game as it releases to save the world upon the Nintendo Switch.
The objective of the game is to stop the spread of a number of diseases and find a cure to prevent them from taking over the world. From a group of seven experts, you can comprise a team, dependent on the number of players, each of which hold their own abilities or expertise within a variety of fields. For instance, the medic can treat cases, the scientist can work towards finding a cure quicker than conventional means and the quarantine specialist can contain the disease. The main playing area, or board, shows a global map with forty-eight of the world’s major cities connected by lines of transport. Through a series of moves, as well as the distribution of a variety of cards, you work co-operatively to contain the disease, find a cure and ultimately, save the world.
Dependent on your difficulty level, the game containing five different levels from very easy to heroic, you can set the game up to start with two epidemics, all the way to a gruelling six diseases to combat; with four being the recommended number. Each player is dealt a hand of cards, each of them containing a number of colour-coded cities that relates to the disease currently infecting the area. A random set of cards are also drawn to determine which cities around the world become infected and from here, you and your team must travel from city to city and continent to continent to set up research posts, treat the infected and find a cure to win the game. Allow too many cities to become infected or run out of cards and it’s game over.
During each turn, every player can take up to four moves in order to reach a specific location, perform a task or to swap cards with other players who share the same space as them; but only if a player holds a card that matches with the corresponding city in which they inhabit. Depending on the ability of your chosen character, you can opt to treat your current city or contain it. However, should you build a set of four or five cards from the same corresponding colour, you can begin researching a cure and eradicate the disease from that particular colour of infections. At the end of each turn, a further two cards are then distributed, although only a limited number can be held per player per turn.
As well as each card pertaining to a particular city, there can also be other variants mixed into the deck. These can range from special event cards that can grant you an airlift to an out-of reach city to an epidemic which forces a further outbreak of the diseases amongst the cities. There are a lot of elements to the gameplay of Pandemic; each of which can take some time to get to grips with. Although the game does come with a tutorial of sorts, it doesn’t do a particularly great job of nurturing new players into the game. However, it does come with an extensive rule book and guide that needs to be read in order to learn how the game works properly.
There’s a deep level of strategy and many elements to the game; making this a difficult game to get into at first. However, by starting on the easier levels, replaying the tutorials and reading the rules, you soon learn all of its intricacies from which moves to make, actions to perform and when best to use certain special event cards. Despite its technicalities, in essence it makes for a better game as it creates a level of depth that forces you to replay it over and over again, with each game playing inherently different from the last, thus promoting an impressive level of long-term appeal.
The game can be played in solo mode with an impressive AI that easily matches any human player. The game can also cater for local couch play in a co-operative setup for up to four players. However, there is no online capacity to play. It may be a deal-breaker to some, but in all honesty, this is a game that doesn’t need an online component and in the setting of the game, may not necessarily be a game that will work at its best in such an environment. Everything within the game is easily playable and accessible, with bright, clear and concise visuals to make sure you are fully aware of what is going on at all times. Once the rules are mastered, this is a game that will involve you and invest you for a long time to come. This is also further bolstered by the promise of two expansions that are coming in the future: On the Brink – Virulent Strain and On The Brink – Roles & Events which adds a number of new cards and diseases into the fold.
Overall, Pandemic is a superb recreation of the original board game. It’s deep levels of technicalities and layers of depth transition well to a digital format, making this a very playable video game indeed. It can be easy to learn, yet fiendishly difficult to master, but with continued practice and playthroughs, you begin to pick up all of its elements and mechanics to produce a very satisfying experience every time you play. There’s been an influx of digital board games that have transitioned to the Switch in recent months and Pandemic easily stands head and shoulders above a lot of them. In either its solo or multiplayer modes, this is a deep and thoroughly engaging game that holds a massive amount of long-term appeal. All-in-all, this is another must-buy on the Nintendo Switch for fans of the physical game or board games in general.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Pandemic Video Game Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
Pandemic spreads a disease of playability in this perfect recreation of the award-winning board game.