Pathogen Review

By , on November 13, 2013
Last modified 10 years, 8 months ago

Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5


  • Deceptively complex, but compulsive gameplay.
  • A host of multiplayer options, with four-player support on the way.
  • The undo feature in single-player mode is a lifesaver.


  • Can be difficult to get a handle on the rules.
  • You can lose control of the board at any time, leading to regular restarts.


Pathogen's simple visuals betray its surprisingly intricate mechanics, which form the basis for exciting - and frequently exhausting - cerebral battles.

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Ah... the carefree life of the virus: only interested in the act of self-replication and the consumption of every other organism on the planet. Fittingly, the disease-themed Pathogen is a competitive game between two players (either another human or an AI) in which the goal is to infect and consume the board until nothing but your counters remain.

While the developer wishes to give the game an 'easy to learn, hard to master' tagline, we're not quite sure it applies here. To be honest, after our time with the game, we're not certain if getting a handle on the rules have made things easier or more difficult. You see, the mechanics are geared towards punishing your opponent for making gains, with each player able to turn the tide of play in their favour with a single tap.

There are three types of of cells: A, B, and C. Tap on an empty spot on the board, and you will place an A cell. By tapping the A cell, you can evolve it to a B cell, which will spread outwards, transforming any adjacent A cells into B cells as it goes.

C cells are the next stage of evolution. Evolve a C cell, and will it create a Wall cell, which gives you permanent control of that tile. Finally you have access to a virus that will remove all matching adjacent cells the board, regardless of which team they belong to. Each player is given access to B cells, C cells, and viruses, but the more powerful cells have cooldown periods to prevent constant useage.

Often, you'll be congratulating yourself for triggering an evolution that flips most of the board in your favour via a satisfying chain reaction, only to have to your work immediately undone by your enemy. It can be very frustrating, but it keeps you on your toes, making you think twice about every single placement.

Thanks to board variations and a robust multiplayer mode, Pathogen keeps you on edge through most of its campaign. Ranked play is on the way for those who wish to test their skill, and while a four player mode is unavailable over network play for now, it is available locally. The AI can be uncompromising, and perhaps the players are given too much power to shift the tide of the game. However, we reckon Pathogen is an ingenious board game which will test your nerves to their limits.


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