Who doesn’t love a video game that takes elements from the past and implements them into a unique story for us to play, that’s exactly what A Plague Tale: Innocence does. I really enjoyed history in school and learning about the Black Death. It was very interesting to me and it was one of the big things that caught my eye when I stumbled upon this game and saw that it was set during this time period, though what drew me in closer was watching trailers and gameplay footage that I found on YouTube from previous Expos. That personally was enough for me to really want to get hands on with this game and see what tale it had for me to unfold.
The game is an action-adventure set around two characters Amicia and her younger brother Hugo who are fighting for survival during the first phase of the Hundred Years’ War and the Bubonic Plague (Black Death). The player finds themselves progressing in the game through a series of survival puzzles that mainly consists of finding your way around hordes of rats or avoiding knights that are after you. This is made simple with the Slingshot that Amicia has (who is the main character you play as) and using the various fire sources that are scattered throughout the games environment but beware because one wrong move can get you killed and returning to a previous checkpoint as if you get caught by the knights or eaten by the swarm or rats its game over. At the same time you’ll have the added pressure of protecting companions that will aid you on your journey too.
Amicia has a few handy gameplay features the will help you solve the puzzles you will come up against. She has a Slingshot that allows her to shoot stones and various other things at locations to either kill knights, create distractions or fend against the hordes of rats. You’ll quickly realise that fire is your friend as the rats don’t like it and will not come near you or it. Even though you play as Amicia you have to protect Hugo, so in a way you are playing as two characters but controlling the one. At times you will have to ask Hugo to wait while you do something or even send him to open a door or to go to a better location. By doing this it makes Hugo a huge part of the game and not just a story point, as he at certain times is the only way you can progress through the world because a door is locked. For example, he is the only one that can fit through a small gap to unlock the door from the other side or to push down objects, like crates for you to use to climb up onto higher ground. It’s something that has been done in games before but I believe that A Plague Tale: innocence’s does really well and doesn’t necessarily feel like a gimmick but more of two siblings working together to trying and survive.
By using alchemy and crafted ammo types for your slingshot you are able to increase your carry amount as well as making an array of substances, that when used wisely makes it easy to progress past knights and rats to get to story locations.
On your travels through the game you will come across materials that can be used to build your ammo and upgrade Amicia, though the upgrade points can only be found in certain parts of the story so make sure you collect enough materials, for when you find these locations as you can improve her equipment, for example you can upgrade her clothing to reduce her noise level when moving around the environment, thus making her less likely to be detected.
I really enjoy how simple the game is to play but at the same time how it keeps you hooked and truly wanting the best for the characters, after losing loved ones and just being scared and confused Asobo Studio does an amazing job at making you feel for these characters and really creates a gaming experience that I truly have enjoyed playing. The relationship between Amicia and Hugo is fantastic and you really feel her struggles when trying to save her little brother, but at the same time him not knowing what’s happening to them and why they are being chased in the first place. It really makes you appreciate the brilliances that video games can achieve when the right minds come together and make a work of art like this.
A Plague Tale does a brilliant job at capturing the time period and making you feel scared and hopeless at times when fighting off the large amount of knights and rats. Each of the puzzles really make you think and trying to work your way through a chapter with your little brother at times, can be really tense because you have to watch each and every move the knights make to prevent yourselves from getting caught.
Visually the game has that dark setting to it and eerie feel that helps create that horrible atmosphere that people around this time period would have gone through. That feeling of being scared, hopeless and confused as people around you were just getting ill and dying but no one knows why and how to stop it. The audio works perfectly with this as you can hear the commotion in the streets and in the houses, the rats add that sense of fear when you are in a small location or at night when they try and swarm you, they’re blood lust really makes you want to get the hell away from them and progress to safer areas. You will hear the knights talking about you and your brother as well the other key points to do with the story. My favourite part of the game was trying to cross a battlefield and making your way through hundreds of dead bodies while trying to avoid the rats and knights, It was truly a gripping gameplay moment for me.
Personally I feel that once you have completed this game that there is no real reason to keep playing it. Don’t get me wrong it’s an amazing experience but the only real thing that will keep you playing is finding the collectables that are scattered about the chapters. You could play it a second time through to enjoy the game again or to just take in the brilliant setting and story that A Plague Tale has to offer.
A Plague Tale: Innocence is one of those games that is a unique IP and doesn’t come around very often. The industry at the minute is filled with sequels and prequels to game franchises, that when something comes out that hasn’t got a number after it or isn’t something to do with Fortnite get missed or doesn’t get the appreciation that it deserves. It has to be one of the best games I have played this year and probably for a long time. It’s filled with loveable characters, easy but challenging puzzles and a want for more. Sadly the game can be slow-paced at times and is a tad short but that doesn’t change the fact that while I was playing I honestly lost track of time and just enjoyed picking up a controller and switching off from the reality world and being lost in this one. For these reasons I’m more than happy to give this game a 8 out of 10 and say that it will probably be one of the most under rated game this year. Definitely one to check out if you like your games to have gripping storylines as well as engaging puzzles.