04/04/2024

Bio, Inc Review By Dr Congo Fighting "It’s Kill or Cure" ๐Ÿฆ  @DryGinStudios #IndieGame #GameDev

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Bio, Inc Review
Let’s just address the elephant in the room. About a decade ago, a game called Plague, Inc came out. It was published by Ndemic Creations, and it was a smash hit. In it, you played the part of a disease, with your aim being to wipe out humanity by evolving various symptoms, and trying to beat to the punch a global effort to create a cure. 

Bio, Inc is not that game, and nor is it a sequel. Neither is it made by Ndemic Creations, instead coming out of software house DryGin Studios. However, it is (to me, at least) a spiritual successor to Plague, Inc and shares a lot of its mechanics (and both have shared origins as mobile games), but with a few significant differences. It’s hard not to make comparisons between the two games, but I’ll do my best. Because I love you. Anyway, elephant done. 

Bio, Inc Review

Rather than trying to eradicate all of humanity, Bio, Inc. has you targeting one single, solitary human and gives you a choice of aims. You can either be the disease that’s trying to kill them, or you can play the medical team attempting to save their life. And it’s fun, in a “pick-it-up-and-have-a-blast” kinda way. This isn’t the sort of game where you’ll be having marathon sessions, so you can take that commode out of your Amazon basket. 

If you side with the reaper, then you’ll be working to give more and more conditions to your subject in the hope of shoving them unceremoniously off the mortal coil. At the same time, the AI will try to save them. As your subject’s health declines they’ll call in to see a doctor, at which point they’ll start to go through a number of tests and possibly some treatment. If things get bad enough, they’ll go to hospital for more significant interventions. But persevere and hit them hard enough with enough illnesses and off they’ll go to meet their maker. 

Bio, Inc Review

Playing as their saviour works in much the same way, but there are a few additional complexities. In this game mode, you’re playing the doctors – so you may well send your patient for tests that might diagnose the condition and let you offer the right treatment. Equally, they may reveal absolutely nothing, wasting crucial time as the AI tries its best to throw more and more illnesses at the poor chap until they eventually succumb. It’s a pretty cool mechanic and getting to play both sides adds some replay value. 

One thing that can affect your patient, regardless of which side you’re playing, are lifestyle factors. Obesity, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, allergies, even nymphomania (which we’ll come on to shortly) are on the table, along with a host of others. Much as in real life, these lifestyle factors affect how likely your patient is to be afflicted with various conditions. If you’re playing as death, some of these factors are prerequisites for other, more severe illnesses. 

You’ll need resources to allocate illnesses or treatments to your patient, and these pop up randomly as each game session progresses. You capture them with a cursor, and spend them as you like. I haven’t played the mobile game, but I expect that in that version you’re probably claiming these resources with some satisfying taps and pops. But in a roundabout way, that brings us onto graphics. 

Bio, Inc Review

It’s a pleasing game to look at, with an art direction that reminds me of the interfaces in Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m not sure whether that’s specifically what they were aiming for, but that’s what it put in my head. Your patient appears onscreen in a sort of half-outline, half-x-ray kind of view, and as you scroll through the various systems in the body (digestive, nervous, respiratory etc), the overlay changes to display the relevant system – and that’s where the aforementioned resources pop up, requiring you to switch quickly between systems to grab them. Showing the different body systems is a nice touch, and contributes to the educational aspect of the game.

The way that the body is displayed reacts to some of the lifestyle factors as well. Make your character obese, and they chug a couple of burgers and get wider. Give them morbid obesity, and they grow again. And that, in yet another roundabout kind of way, brings us onto the aforementioned nymphomania. If they’re afflicted with it, at random you’ll be notified that they’re about to head off to test some bedsprings. A bonking wheel of fortune (not the game’s terminology, admittedly) pops up, and that determines whether they have a lucky escape from their unprotected sexual encounter, or if they pick up a dose of the clap that has to be dealt with. It’s a nice little fun mechanic to throw in, and of course it’s accompanied by just the right amount of wah-wah guitar. 

Bio, Inc Review

As I pointed out earlier, this is very much a drop in and drop out game, and in an attempt to bring in some variety, the developers have given you a fully featured tutorial to work through, a bunch of different scenarios to play through, various difficulty levels, and a sandbox mode where you can specify your own parameters to play against. Having said that, I’m not sure how many times I would be playing this in the longer term. It’s not that hard to work out which conditions have the greatest effect, or how to deal with various symptoms. Once you’re over that hurdle, the game becomes easier to push through. If you rationed yourself and stuck to shorter sessions, it might have some legs. 

As anyone who has read my review before knows, I love a good moan, and there are a couple of minor points I need to cover in that respect. The mechanic around collecting resources as they pop up in different bodily systems can get a bit annoying. Controlling the reticule has a bit of a learning curve with a controller, often leaving you missing some resources. I can’t help but feel that perhaps this is an issue with porting the game from mobile, where as mentioned earlier, you would have a touchscreen to make this part easier. Either way, after a little progress you can unlock an option to automatically collect resources which makes things easier, but in my experience even the auto collect managed to regularly miss a couple. Somehow I also managed to get stuck in the odd menu here and there, as well as part way through the tutorial, to the point where I had to exit the game to get it working again. But the lockups are minor complaints really, and didn’t happen that often. 

Bio, Inc Review

SUMMARY

All in all, this isn’t a bad little game, with plenty to do and even some stuff to learn. Time will tell whether I’ll still be playing it in a year’s time, but as something to while a bit of time away, it’s certainly entertaining enough. 

Bio, Inc ReviewBio, Inc Review

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