Sawbuck Gamer


You Be Illin’

Influenza proves that excitement isn’t always contagious.

By Jason Reich • September 19, 2012

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

Any game that lets you purchase an upgrade called “vomit linger” earns points for distinctiveness. Influenza puts you in the role of the titular disease, and lets you spread yourself from office worker to office worker until finally infecting the target: a gold-colored colleague who makes a good stand-in for your own office’s resident jackass. Infected characters turn green, and clicking one accesses your “weapons”—a long-range sneeze, a blood-flecked cough that splatters the walls with vibrant pixelated sputum, and the ever-popular technicolor yawn, which deposits a puddle of puke on the floor for your fellow zombie-fied drones to traipse through until some poor janitor mops it up.

Later levels throw more obstacles your way, like doctors who cure infected workers and HAZMAT guys who block off certain floors. But Influenza’s biggest challenge is to your patience. The office workers’ movements are random, so most of your time is spent watching your suffering sickos unhelpfully pop in and out of doors instead of encountering more healthy workers to sneeze on. On more than one occasion, my ailing wage slaves clumped together on the lower levels; while on the higher floors, business continued as usual, with that golden bastard completely unaware of the misery beneath his feet. A trenchant metaphor for corporate America, perhaps, but as a game, it’s its own kind of office drudgery. Like the actual flu, Influenza is tedious, but there’s a certain grim satisfaction that comes from throwing up on your cubicle-mate’s shoes.

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250 Responses to “You Be Illin’”

  1. HobbesMkii says:

    I’m far less concerned about catching disease in my office than I am from one of the myriad masses that apparently used up all their sick days at the beginning of the year and now has no choice but to sit next to me on the train, dying a slow, loud death by bubonic plague, not even bothering to cover their mouth, they’re so far beyond the level at which they care.

    They should make a game like that, is what I’m saying. Of course, it might be too easy. “Click ‘Play’ to start.” *click* “You have won!”

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      This game reminds me of the outcry in the office at my previous job.  Several people were rumored to be out sick for a few days with the swine flu, but then came back to work and were coughing and sneezing up a storm for several days.  Many employees (myself included) got really upset and were demanding that either they be sent home until they got well, or management do something to address it.

      Management’s response was to hold a meeting and yell at us that even if they knew it was swine flu, HIPAA regulations forbid them from telling everyone else in the office if someone had it.

      In retrospect, I think we were both wrong, but at the time it was one of a huge list of things management did that pissed me off and resulted in me quitting after five years there.

      • caspiancomic says:

        I was at Uni when H1N1 was blowing up (or rather, getting overblown), and my favourite moment from the whole panic was a poll I read in which the overwhelming majority of people said they would have asked a sick colleague to stay at home, but almost to a man admitted that they would go to the office anyway if they were sick themselves.

  2. JuliusKassendorf says:

    I had a sick person get caught in the stairs.  That was rough as he was the only one who was going to the second floor.  It’s not a terrible concept, but it needs more work to make it function better.

    • Hey, thanks for playing. If you didn’t know already, I made the game in 48 hours for a compo. Though I’m happy with how it turned out, some areas do leave much to be desired. I’m busy working on turning it into a full game, this time around I’ll be able to focus on ironing out all the bad parts.