A Plague Tale: Innocence
Gameplay 8
Graphics 9
Sound 8

A Plague Tale: Innocence is not only a great looking game with a unique setting, but the strong narrative focus makes it very engrossing too. The combination of stealth and puzzle-solving could easily have been very annoying, but barring a few frustrating sections the game is actually quite entertaining. It is also unrelentingly grim, which might deter some players, but between all the horror there’s also some heartwarming moments. Single-player narrative focussed games such as A Plague Tale: Innocence is becoming rarer, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to play this one.

Gameplay: A nice mixture of stealth and puzzles that never really veers too far in either direction.

Graphics: The visuals are extremely detailed and the environments surprisingly varied.

Sound: Good voice acting and some soaring tunes

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A Plague Tale: Innocence

Developer: Asobo Studio | Publisher: Focus Home Interactive | Release Date: 2019 | Genre: Third-Person / Adventure / Adventure | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

The 14th century was a pretty grim period in history thanks to things like the Black Death decimating a third of Europe while English and France fought each other in the Hundred Years’ War. It is against this backdrop that A Plague Tale: Innocence by Asobo Studio is set. The game opens with Amicia de Rune out hunting in the forest with her father. This pleasant outing quickly takes a dark turn when a horrific swarm of rats makes an appearance. Things go from bad to worse when the Inquisition also shows up in search of Amicia’s younger brother, Hugo. Amicia barely knows her sibling as a strange affliction has kept him locked up under the care of their mother for most of his life. However, the two soon find themselves on the run from the Inquisition while also having to navigate the horrors of a country that is beset by rats and war.

A Plague Tale: Innocence takes the form of a third-person adventure where you guide Amicia through a series of harrowing locations and situations. Your primary goal is to protect Hugo as the Inquisition has taken a very active interest in him and will stop at nothing until they have him in captivity. Since Hugo is just a little boy of about five years old he is not going to be much help when it comes to taking down massive armored foes. Amicia knows how to take care of herself, but armed with only a slingshot and a little boy clutching her hand it would be wise to avoid conflict at all times. Initially, this filled us with dread as stealth games are hit or miss at best, but combining it with babysitting sounded like a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, while stealth plays a big role in the game, you generally don’t have to worry about failing objectives because your AI ward did something brain-dead. Instead, Hugo sticks to you like glue unless you instruct him to wait for you and he can even be useful when it comes to squeezing through small gaps to open doors or flip switches.

It also helps that most of the stealth sections in the game are generally set within confined areas where your path forward is pretty clear. This means that the focus is less on sneaking around and more about using the environment to your advantage. Of course, the fact that enemies are pretty stupid also helps to balance the odds a little because if they get their hands on you it usually means instead death. Amicia’s slingshot and the abundance of rocks that can be found allows you to distract guards long enough to sneak past. Slinging a rock at high velocity at their forehead also tends to stop them in their tracks, but eventually, you will begin to face armored foes who are a little more resilient. Guards are also not the only opposition you will encounter either as the environments are typically swarming with rats too. These swarming vermin can tear anything that comes close to them into shreds, but luckily they have an aversion to fire.

Sticking close to fires or making your own will keep you safe, but the rats can also be used to your advantage by putting out any fires that are keeping the guards safe. It’s pretty macabre seeing a guard go down in a swarm of flesh-eating rats after you break his lantern with your slingshot, but if that’s what it takes to survive so be it. When you are not sneaking through tall grass or trying to keep the rats at bay with a torch the game also has some puzzles to solve, but none of these should stump players for too long.

As Amicia and Hugo try to stay one step ahead of the Inquisition they will encounter other children who have been left to their own devices due to the war or rats. While you don’t have direct control over them they can sometimes be instructed to help out if they are in your group. For example, a teenage thief is good at opening locks while a blacksmith’s apprentice is strong enough to overpower some guards from behind. Amicia also learns some new tricks throughout her adventure. All she can initially throw are rocks and jars, but soon some alchemical concoctions will also be added to her arsenal. These can do anything from dousing and starting flames to attracting rats. Of course, creating these items requires components, which is where the crafting element of the game comes into play. Thankfully, there’s usually an abundance of reagents dotted around the environments for players to find. With enough components, it’s even possible to upgrade Amicia’s gear to make her slingshot more silent, ammunition pocket larger, and so on. Then, towards the end of the game there are so some other abilities that are introduced, but discovering what these are and how they work is something that we don’t want to spoil.

A Plague Tale: Innocence is undoubtedly a good looking game and a lot of care and attention have been lavished on the environments. It’s not an open-world game, so it’s impossible to get lost, but you can veer off the obvious track sometimes to find new crafting materials or collectibles. We definitely recommend that players do so at every opportunity as the game is very narrative-focused and probably not something that you would want to experience a second time. The locations that you get to traverse are surprisingly varied and you’ll see everything from lush forests to plague-ridden towns, a battleground with bodies strewn everywhere, and even a hidden Château. The latter is a bit baffling, though, as the game appears to set it up as a hub of some sort, but then doesn’t really follow through on this idea. Most of the game takes place at night, which gives it a very oppressive atmosphere, especially with the number of rats everywhere. It’s no exaggeration to say that some scenes feature literally thousands of the critters, which is quite a technical achievement in itself. The motion capturing for the lead characters is also pretty good and the game features a very unobtrusive user interface, which adds to the cinematic feel. There’s even a photo mode that allows you to pause the action and admire the detail from different angles if you want.

Since the game is set in Medieval France it would probably be the most authentic to play it in French with English subtitles, but we found the English voice acting to be very good too. Amicia’s character is really put through the wringer, so it helps that her voice actress delivers an authentic performance. The same could be said about Hugo, who could easily have ended up feeling like an annoying little brat if not for his voice actor. Instead, it’s heartwarming to hear how the bond between the siblings is strengthened as they get to know each other better. The performances of the other characters are not as good, but still very decent. The soundtrack is also really good and features instruments such as the viola da gamba and cello to add to the atmosphere. We found a controller to be the most comfortable way to play the game, but a keyboard and mouse should be perfectly serviceable too. Swapping between different items or quickly crafting new ammunition is accomplished via radial menus that can be pulled up as needed. The characters can crouch to keep a low profile and stay out of sight, but actions such as climbing are restricted to specifically marked spots. Death can come swiftly and suddenly in this game, but the frequent checkpoints cut back on frustration. In fact, the only parts of the game that we found to be frustrating was the boss battles as these can feel a little out of place. Luckily there is only a handful of them, with the final boss being the most ridiculous, but the less said about that the better.

Overall, we found A Plague Tale: Innocence to be a great game that features a unique story and setting. We also didn’t encounter any bugs and it was refreshing to play a single-player title that wasn’t needlessly padded out to keep artificially increase the playtime. If you love narrative-driven games and enjoyed titles such as The Last of Us and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, then you really shouldn’t hesitate to add A Plague Tale: Innocence to your library.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 7/8/10 (64 bits)
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-2120 (3.3 GHz)/AMD FX-4100 X4 (3.6 GHz)
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 2 GB, GeForce GTX 660/Radeon HD 7870
  • Storage: 50 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 7/8/10 (64 bits)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4690 (3.5 GHz)/AMD FX-8300 (3.3 GHz)
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 4 GB, GeForce GTX 970/Radeon RX 480
  • Storage: 50 GB available space

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