Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Asobo Studio
Release Date: 05/13/2019
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The Plague was a devastating disease that wiped out millions in the Medieval era. It’s uncommon to see a disease revolve around a game’s story, but A Plague Tale does it wonderfully. Full of adventure, sadness, excitement, and little hope, Innocence does an amazing job making you care about its characters and world.
You play as Amecia de’ Rune who is a girl of royalty. She goes on a walk with her dog and father in the woods and, well I don’t want to spoil a thing here, bad things happen and she must suddenly flee her home. The entire game revolves around trying to find a cure for the Plague and her brother who has a mysterious disease that may or may not be tied to the Plague itself. Amecia and her brother Hugo are fantastic characters and I was glued to my screen and played through the entire game in one day. I wanted to know what was next, and the great stealth combat is some of the best I’ve played in the last decade.
The game is a mix of stealth combat and cut scenes with just some exploring. The game is highly linear, but the combat areas become more open later on in the game with multiple ways to get through enemies. The main focus of combat is fire and your slingshot. This sling can be used to whip rocks at enemies’ heads to kill them, but doing so around other guards will alert them. At the beginning of the game, you will just toss rocks at metal to distract guards and use pots to lure them away. You aren’t killing too much during the first few chapters of the game, and this is okay. The game slowly adds new ammo types, various ways to combat rats, and new ways to use fire.
Soldiers and rats are your enemies in this game and the rats are the most deadly. Outside of hiding and working your way around enemy soldiers, the rats are completely afraid of fire and light as it kills them instantly. The game has some sort of “rat” engine as thousands appear on scream and swarm around like bugs and it’s rather disturbing to see at first. Various forms of fire will light your paths such as sticks that burn quickly and are used to solve puzzles, haystacks, torches, braziers, and various light sources. Some areas are puzzles that require you to light your path through rats and towards the end of the game, you can use the rats against soldiers since your ammo allows you to put out fires and not just start them. I won’t give away the combat types towards the last 4 chapters as this will spoil a lot of the story.
What makes the game so great is not just the story, amazing voice acting, and characters, but the combat unfolds so slowly throughout the game, and each combat scenario is different from the rest, that you want to keep playing. The game never gets boring and the environments are constantly changing. You also get to upgrade your sling with more ammo, faster reloading and aiming, and this is done by looting materials throughout the world. You can find workstations and later on you can acquire an upgrade that allows you to do the upgrades without a station. You can also craft ammo types which is essential for getting through the game. Towards the end of the game, you must think and really know your arsenal and various ways to get through combat areas are available that allow you to sneak or fight.
The game also looks amazing with gorgeous vistas, amazing models and textures, and superb lighting effects. For an indie game, this is one of the best-looking games this year and even has great controls and a good camera. Even having to have Hugo tag alongside you all the time doesn’t get in the way. He’s always holding Amecia’s hand you never have to leave him to go do stuff and make him come back like other escort-style games.
Overall, A Plague Tale is one of the best games released this year and has everything going for it. It never got boring and was just so much fun to play through and I always wanted to know what was coming next and see Amecia, Hugo, and their friends make it through to the end. Sadly, with this being an indie game, a lot of people are not going to play this and I really hope to see more from this studio.