February 19, 2013 4 Comments
Where have I been the last two days? Well, I’ve been working, hanging out with Brian, going to church (that’s right, Indie Gamer Chick goes to church), and while I’m doing all that, I’ve been utterly hooked on an iPhone title named Infectonator. Day and night for the last 48 hours. And it’s all Brian’s fault. He bugged me for a while, saying “I found this game on my phone that’s really fun and pretty addictive and I think if you liked that OMG-Zombies!, you’ll really like this.” Spot on he was, although on reflection, he might have been looking for a way to get a break from me. If so, another point for him, the crafty bastard. Infectonator is an utterly addictive time sink, sort of like OMG-Zombies! on steroids.
And it’s free.
Oh sure, the game offers you a chance to pay cash in lieu of grinding, but I never found it necessary. I didn’t really play it totally non-stop. In truth, I put about six hours and change into Infectonator this weekend, but it felt longer. In a good way. The concept here is the opposite of OMG-Zombies! Instead of trying to exterminate the undead, you’re trying to create them, and wipe out humanity in the process. In the beginning, you’re given a single dose of a virus. Tapping the screen, you place the virus near humans, causing them to turn into zombies. They run around and kill humans, who may or may not turn into zombies. Every time you kill a person, you get coins that you can spend on upgrades, new zombie classes (that’s classes of zombies, not classes on zombies, but I think I’m onto something there if you’re short on game ideas), or special powers. Unlike some games like this, even the smallest upgrades feel like they make progress, which makes the gameplay very rewarding. An average game will take you about two hours to play-through.
I can sum up how potently addictive Infectonator is by saying that I played through it four times. Do you know how many games I’ve ever played through four times before this? None. Never once. Nor have I ever played through a game even three times. At most, I’ll play through a game once on one difficulty and once on a harder difficulty, then move on to something else. For whatever reason, I had trouble putting down Infectonator. A second play-through became a third. Then I realized I still hadn’t played the game with the super power-ups, so I saved up my cash in the third play-through and rolled it over to the fourth, immediately bought the super power-ups, and then beat the game a fourth time. I will admit, by this point, I wasn’t really having fun.
The first time around? Sublime. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face (or the time-sink-induced drool from my mouth) with a jackhammer and dynamite. The second time around, I was waiting for “harder” mode to be, you know, harder, and it never came. But I was still having a good time. The third time around, I was just playing to save money to see how over-powered the super power-ups were. The fourth time, I was shaking my head at how easy the game was now that my virus spreader was passing through people and walls. Not only that, but I had so much money saved up (over $500,000) that I was also fully able to upgrade the amount of directions the virus spread in and beef up my zombies to the point that they were practically indestructible. I’ve always said I enjoy abusing leveling up systems, but I think I took it to a new extreme here and consequently ruined a game I had been having a damn good time with. I’m ashamed of myself, I really am.
My only other complaints are the typical ones associated with iPhone games. Infectonator crashed every single time that I tried to “report” my score. The way they implemented Game Center support is among the worst I’ve ever seen on an iPhone title. Infectonator also bogged down several times. Never once did I have a problem on my first play through, but each subsequent game had slow-down issues. Plus I seriously question whether “hard” mode actually was hard, considering that I beat the game with fewer upgrades on my third play-through then I did the first time. I also found the endless mode to be quite dull. Of course, all these complaints are slightly muted by the fact that Infectonator is free. Free is a good price. Considering how horrible the values for Infectonator’s micro-transactions are ($9.99 nets you 100,000 gold coins, which isn’t enough for even one of those super power-ups that only works in one play-through), I wonder why they didn’t just slap a $0.99 price tag on their game? Maybe indie gaming really is a race to the bottom. If that’s the case, the guys behind this game strapped anvils to their backs and flung themselves down the Mariana Trench. No word on whether they waved to James Cameron on the way down. Or maybe they turned him into a zombie while they were at it.
I still enthusiastically recommend Infectonator. It’s free on iOS and Android. Are you one of those troglodytes that doesn’t have a phone? Well then you can play it for free online too. If I ranked non-XBLIGs on my Leaderboard, Infectonator would be somewhere near the top. It’s a glorious little time sink that does what any good time sink does: ruin your fucking life.
Infectonator is Chick Approved.