"At long last... it's over."
We've torn up all the cards in the world. The game is finished. We saved the world, although it was a close-run thing.
My wife, always environmentally conscious, suggests putting the empty box and the torn-up cardboards in the recycling. But that would be like burning baby photos. This game, this journey, was a labour of love.
I put Pandemic Legacy back on the shelf. I want people to see it. I want people to know about this wild ride we've been on.
This story is the end; you'll want to read the beginning. It's our journal of infection and addiction, and it starts here.
My wife and I have been saving the world for 2 months, 1 week and 5 days. We should be watching The Good Place. Instead we're playing Pandemic Legacy again, trying to stop the world from being torn asunder. Because the pull from Pandemic Legacy is better than the best show on Netflix.
That article has spoilers. This article has spoilers.
This article will spoil everything. You are warned.
It was Mack. I trusted him, once. But it was all Mack.
Last time you met Mack, I said these nice things about him:
Mack: the infection-proof ultimate Solder, attended by his zombie-killing paramilitary entourage.
I liked him. I thought he was going to be one of our heroes. Someone the world could call on in a time of need. Someone who would toil through adversity and save humanity.
But all along, he was the villain, inflicting torment upon humanity. Code-name: Sagittarius.
Is it a secret conspiracy? You bet your grassy knoll it is.
A secret cabal, named Zodiac, have been working to undermine both the mission of the CDC and the governments of the world. The reason the world is infected with a zombie virus is because Zodiac engineered it that way. They wanted a human-manufactured epidemic of biblical proportions. Bigger than Ben Hur.
This is not the last plot twist.
Everything changes. As soon as the plot twist hits the table, objective cards are ripped up, and new ones come out. We are to secretly take down Zodiac from the inside. Military bases become a target that must be destroyed.
Characters gain skills in sabotage. You gain access to C4.
Nothing has changed. The diseases come, yet again. The tides of infection must be held back once again. Red, blue and yellow diseases spread like wildfire. Pale-skinned zombie hordes still roam the earth. The rider on the pale horse still rides. His name is Death and Hades comes close behind.
We win occasionally, but lose just as much. We fight, but the game fights back. Nothing changes.
I must admit, I was weak. I looked at the back of the box for Pandemic Legacy: Season Two. So I know what's been predetermined. I know that the world is going to end. Disease and devastation will win. Zodiac is going to win. Despair just won.
The hunt continues.
An earlier month introduced the idea of a Search. We found the Virologist and the Immunologist. We found the Paranoid Soldier who revealed the secrets of Zodiac to us. In the process, we unearthed everything we need to start manufacturing a cure! Boom.
In some sense, the game hasn't changed. Viruses still try to take over the world. We still only have 4 actions every turn to save it.
Once you just travelled, treated the disease, built research stations, discovered cures. Then there were roadblocks, quarantines, and searches. But now there's a final stage of the game: manufacturing and delivering salvation.
Small orange vaccination factories generate smaller orange markers, delightfully shaped like little pills. Those pills convert pale-skinned zombies into regular people, and vaccinate the population.
It's refreshing to watching your little orange dots slowly overtake the green stickers that marked infection. It's relieving to flip over a vaccinated city, and realise there's nothing to infect. The game can't touch you after all.
There is hope.
I guess I should feel a bit bad about nuking Istanbul after all.
You think it's over. I mean, we're winning again! Or at least, we think we're winning. Or at least, holding the tides of disease back relatively effectively.
Then you hit December, and everything has to be ripped up again. Everything? Everything. The old objectives don't matter anymore. What matters is stopping another mutant virus from destroying the world, and bringing the prophecy of Pandemic Legacy Season 2 to fruition. I've cursed us. I shouldn't have looked at the back of that box.
It's Zodiac again, up to no good. They claim to have stashed more genetically engineered killer viruses.
So, back to the scene of the crime. Back to Atlanta, and the burned-out husk of a CDC, looted by a panicking population. Searching the ruins of the city for the stockpile of deadly, mutated diseases. Well, trying to, whilst stopping the usual game of Pandemic with the red and blue and yellow cubes from squashing us good.
It takes us two gos, but we make it with a turn to spare. It turns out I'd forgotten to breathe. Our relief is palpable.
It's good. It's really good. I've never played anything like it. I mean, I've played Pandemic, and I've played Risk Legacy and Seafall, and they were good but this was something else. This is a game you should play. Unreservedly, you should play it. Even knowing what you now know, you should play it.
Play it, experience it, enjoy it. Suck the marrow out of it. Live.
We survey the wreckage. The devastation was immense.
I'd forgotten, but we get a score. We probably won't, but we could do it again, and go for perfect. But we did okay. And that's enough. That's our story. Our story is at an end.
I realise how much I hate things ending.
Because endings are final. Until you read the final chapter of a book, the story is alive. You think about it and dream about it, and imagine what's going to happen next. Once you turn the final page and put it back upon the shelf, it's like releasing pet back into the wild.
I imagine it's like children leaving the nest. They're going out into the world, and they'll have adventures with other people, but never again with you. Not in the same way. The endings of Good Things are more bittersweet than I can bear.
I want to dance and sing and celebrate, but I also want to sit quietly in the corner of a dark, bare room, and be alone for a little while.
At long last? It's all over.
Over until we start Season 2.