About a decade ago, I found a game called Infectonator and sunk a good deal of time in it. Developed by a humble Indonesian studio called Toge Productions, the game really stood out. In fact, I liked the game so much that I have it installed on my phone (even tried their runner at some point- it was okay). The premise was simple: We were a viral zombie apocalypse. Well, a budding one. You’d start by a simple infection and zombies and turn into a fearsome pandemic with evolved zombies, specials and more; all presented with pixel art and humorous pop cultures.
A couple days ago, I was checking app store for games to play on the plane and I thought I’d check if they are on iOS store… and what’s that? Infectonator THREE was there! Of course, I downloaded without a second thought and after dedicating many hours of the last days, I’ve completed a run and I’m obliged to write. Buckle up, this will be a long one.
Disclaimer: Existence of an Infectonator 3 implies the existence of an Infectonator 2 (unless they pulled a Winamp on us), which I haven’t played. Anything I describe as “new” might be a feature from 2.
For those unfamiliar with Infectonator, the game consists of two phases as with most. One phase is where you select your upgrades, where to attack and the other phase is the attack itself. In each attack you’ll find yourself in a screen-wide area with people. You’ll do your best to clear the area of humans by spreading the virus, calling zombies and using the “support weapons” such as grenades and “toxic goo”. After your attack, you’ll receive a summary together with the “news cast” of your attack, and move to the meta phase.
While this “high level loop” remains, I3A also brings in new elements that differ from the original, many of which reminded me of another beloved game: Plague Inc. For example, humanity will now work on a cure and unless you destroy the regions with labs, you’re guaranteed a defeat. There is also a panic level now, represented on both continential and global level. Higher panic usually means more security but eventually the paranoia gets to humans and they will be nuking themselves!
Attack part of the game remains mostly the same: You have one “use” of your virus. Once you click anywhere on the screen, four pieces of virus will spread from that point and as soon as they hit a human, they’ll turn into a zombie. Zombies will seek and chase other people, who will run around in fear. Once in close proximity, you guessed it, the zombies will proceed to biting the victim. Enough damage will bring the victim down and with some chance, they’ll raise as a zombie too. Once all humans or zombies are down, the phase will end.
The areas will often feature closed and open areas. While walls might provide safety against those outside, they can also be used strategically to grow a small horde when there is too much security outside.
In addition to your viral spread, you can unlock and summon different zombies anywhere on the screen. Similarly, you’ll unlock use special armaments to support your attacks, like leaving around infected burgers.
Zombies and Support
In I1, you’d unlock some special zombies through certain actions (usually defeating a particular map) and could upgrade them to level 3. You had 3? slots to fill and you’d summon those 3 once per attack. In I3A, the system is expanded a lot.
Basically, you now have two zombie categories. Once category are the unique zombies, which operate pretty much the same as the old system. You unlock them through certain methods (for example, 100 kills in snow regions will unlock the Yeti) and you use them indefinitely (once per attack, if placed in a slot, just as before.) The main difference is upgrading: You no longer spend coins to upgrade them. Instead, you spend basic zombies… which brings us to the consumable zombies.
The second category zombies have actual counts, as in, at a given time you have x of them. You receive zombies randomly after perfect attacks, plus the basic zombies from infected regions on a regular basis. Using basic zombies, you craft other zombies. In fact, you can even use these new zombies to craft more advanced ones! For example, with three basic zombies you can make a Brute Zombie. With a brute zombie and two Basic Ones, you can make a Biker Zombie. To upgrade zombies, you spend that type of zombie in increasing amounts. Spending 3 will upgrade into level 2, then spend 5 to level 3 and so on. Having amounts also means using them in game “spends” from that amount. The advantage of these guys is that you can spawn up to 3 of them per game. While an individual unique might be stronger at times, you’ll likely want at least one regular zombie: When there is a human that ran to somewhere really far on the area, you can spawn the zombie in their face.
As you can see, coins are completely separated from zombies. The zombie types are also very diverse. I see 23 consumable zombies including Biker, Brute, Spitter and Military and 12 unique ones including Disco Zombie, Drumpf, Jayson and Demogrogo.
Support weapons are pretty much the same as before. You buy them with coins, you spend them in games. Done. The list is concise, taking out the more absurdities like the nuke. The support weapons are the key in I3A and should be used extensively. Look, it’s bold text. That means it’s true. Seriously though, the constant flowo of missions you get will guarantee that you make enough money to compensate and getting that edge for Perfect missions (ie all humans dead) will not only reward you with sort of a loot-box that grants coins and zombies, but also will help you with infection and panic levels.
One *sort of* change is the Virus upgrades. These are now in the support weapon section (you have to slide to right, I missed it at the start) There old and new options for virus, most notable one being the lack of multiple virus attacks in I3A, which is another reason to use support. That said, the explosion attack and the most expensive spread options are really good.
New thing! This is another Plague Inc-esque feature. Honestly, I’m not sure how exactly we earn these, but as you play the game you’ll earn DNA. I think labs are guaranteed to give you a good amount and rest is sort of random. Really not sure. Anyway, with these you kinda build a genome for the virus, that is, a set of all the relative genetic material. Yeah, doesn’t mean much, let me explain how it works:
At any given time, you have 3 gene options. You spend DNA to add one to your genome. The one you bought gets replaced by a new option and everything is now more expensive, although all genes always cost an equal amount. If you aren’t happy with your options, you can get new options by spending 3 DNA.
Most genes unlock zombie types with a certain feature. For example, the horde mentality genes unlocks zombies like the Biker, which actually spawns 3 zombies in one summon. Some unlocks require multiple genes to be added. For example, an aggression gene combined with an explosion gene (I believe) unlocks an aggressive zombie that explodes like a virus when killed!
Other genes simple provide a new way for increasing your stats, such as more speed or damage. That said, there is at least one exclusive stat, zombie sight range, which can only be improved via here. These ones can be upgraded, improving the bonus. Buying an upgrade also increases costs.
For example, you have 11 DNA. You have 3 stat genes, each for 3 DNA. You buy the speed gene for 3 DNA. You get a new options, another stat gene. Now, everything costs 5 DNA, including upgrading your speed. But you want to unlock new zombies! You reshuffle for 3 DNA. You get the Horde gene. You buy it for 5 DNA. Everything now costs 7 DNA.
Not much to say here. You have some stats, you improve them by spending coins and with increased amounts. Stats are vital to your victory and should be your only investment at the start of the game. Once the very initial phase is over, you should invest once you have at least some supports.
Panic and Infection Levels
As mentioned, there are continental and global panic levels that you need to watch out for. As with Plague Inc, you’ll want to have as little panic as possible to get results easily, which can be achieved if you don’t attack the same reason repeatedly. In that phase, you’ll usually be limited by your stats: Your zombies will die before they do enough damage, they won’t be able to catch up behind humans, not do enough damage… but overall, you’ll have easy wins.
However, humans will eventually catch the scent. This will cause more and more precautions and reactions from the people: The police will be out in the streets, SWAT teams if you really scared them. In later stages, humans will be ready to deploy defenses: As soon as you start your attack, a counter will start and at the end, local security forces or even the XCOM-esque ZIT force teams will arrive.
On the meta side and global fear of things, governments will deploy research facilities that generate increased amounts of research over time and these will be what force you to move out of the “peaceful attack” zone. If there are multiple facilities, you can’t risk waiting too much or you might not be fast enough, especially if you haven’t infected the regions around them yet (you can only infect regions that are close to other infected regions — can’t recall if it was the case in I1)
Infections are another reworked mechanic. First of all, THANK YOU DEVS FOR REMOVING TIME LIMITS. I hated them passionately. In I3A for each attack, you have a minimal causality threshold (ie minimal amount of humans killed). If you hit this, you get an infection point. If you kill everyone, you get another point. These points will increase the infection level in the target zone. As infection level rises, you get bigger maps and more people to kill (which also give you more rewards of course). Infection level increases will also contribute to panic, moreso if you can’t perform perfect attacks. Survivors tell stories afterall. Once you hit the maximum infection. Further attacks will have a single purpose: To kill everyone at once. Once this is done, the area will be destroyed. This will generate a big amount of panic and destroy any labs on the area, causing even a reduction in the cure process. I believe you also get “good loot” out of the destructions, especially in terms of DNA but can’t say I paid enough attention to measure.
Also, when the continential infection reaches a certain amount, you get to fight their boss. Every continent has one and once you defeat it, your infection rates double on that continent.
Hard to run out of things to talk in this game and I’m just giving surface level explanations! The final mechanic I’ll mention are the modifiers. Each time you complete a game, win or loss, you get some account exp and earn some “coins.” You can use these to enable some mods at the start that effect your gameplay and your final score. For example, the Casual Mode is unlocked by default and should you enable it, you get a very easy mode… but also 50% reduction on your final score. I honestly haven’t tried these, but I see that you can play around with the difficulty in multiple ways. I can’t really say it adds replayability on its own, I’d rather say it improves the replayability if you want to more runs anyway.
Infectonator 3: Apocalypse is definitely worth playing if you like this sort of game. If you liked either the first game or Plague Inc. I’d definitely suggest trying it out. You have to buy the game but did you read what I wrote about in-app purchases? Right, I didn’t, because there are none. Toge definitely improved upon their first game and present us a very good mobile game that unfortunately doesn’t seem to be on Android. Good news is, it’s on Steam. Try it, buy it, enjoy it.