Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Developer: Asobo Studio
Release Date: 10/17/2022
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A Plague Tale: Innocence was a massive surprise hit for me. I didn’t expect much from it coming from an unknown indie studio. It seemed pretty and that’s about it. I was shocked at the fantastic acting, gripping story, well-designed enemy encounters, and unique combat system. Requiem does what sequels normally do. Improve in some areas and step backward in others. While it’s not as shockingly impressive as the first game it does deliver an even better story with insanely good acting and a couple of new characters. Amelia, Hugo, Beatrice, and Lucas are still trying to cure Hugo’s Macula and stop the plague from spreading further. A lot more details arise and we learn the true origin of the Macula and Hugo’s fate.
The first third of the game takes place in the new town that Amelia and co. have settled down in. One thing I love about this series is there’s one thing that always lingers in your mind when playing. Lose all hope. Hope is something that doesn’t exist in this world. Amelia and Hugo are constantly betrayed in this game and it isn’t always apparent. You might think they finally settled down into a nice town or met nice people who will keep them safe and love them, but nope. Not in the world of A Plague Tale. There’s constant dread, pain, and death and it’s wonderfully portrayed thanks to the amazing acting on screen. I do want to mention that while the acting is amazing the facial animations are really lacking including lip-syncing being stiff. That’s a minor complaint, but overall the story is awesome and it has a satisfying ending.
That’s the game’s strongest point outside of its amazing visual presentation. The first game was well-loved for its well-crafted enemy encounters. Each area felt like a puzzle and it was the perfect difficulty. Not too hard, but not so easy that you would just run straight through. I always felt like I could figure out where to go and how to get around each enemy. It was so good that I played that game twice. Requiem adds a lot of new layers to the slingshot and alchemy that makes it a bit over-complicated. There are more elements added in such as being able to hold pots and a crossbow. The crossbow is obtained shortly after the halfway point, but you can add four different alchemic elements. Tar, fire, and rat-attracting crystals. This can make fumbling around to change your weapon and add the right alchemical property cumbersome on the fly. The tar can be used in pots to slow down enemies, but also set on fire with the slingshot fire. So this requires switching to the pot, and then tar, and then switching to the slingshot and equipping fire. I died a lot trying to fumble around and figure out what to do on the fly. This becomes infuriating during open combat events in which I had to restart one section nearly two dozen times because I ran out of materials and had to figure out how to preserve everything in the right order.
Guards come in more variety this time. There are helmeted guards which can’t be killed with the slingshot. These need to be avoided or taken out from behind which causes a lot of noise and the animation is very long. You will more than likely always be seen. You get to hold knives that are disposable and used to get you out in a pinch. There are guards with shields now that require being blinded with powder which is another element to flip through. Fire is still a big gameplay element here and you have rat sections that are also mixed with guards as well. I found these sections with rats more fun in this game because I could be more creative. You can put the guard’s flames out with the powder and watch the rats each them. Then there are puzzle sections with just the rats and these were the most fun I really enjoyed these sections, but there aren’t enough of them. Thankfully combat in the game is spread pretty far apart with entire chapters of just storytelling is thrown in between to give you a break.
It’s a shame the combat went from perfectly balanced to overly difficult and cumbersome. The puzzle sections use the new elements as well. There are now different types of fire you can start from haystacks that only last a few seconds to fire bolts that stick to wood objects. You have unique partner abilities such as Arnaud’s shield that bolts can stick to and Sophia’s crystal that can refract light. These are new changes I really liked and fit in. You can throw tar on flames to increase their brightness for a bit and spread light out more to solve puzzles and reach extra chests. This was the stuff I really enjoyed. Flipping through all these items and alchemy stuff during combat was just too much and hurt the already perfect flow from the previous game.
The last thing I want to touch on is the upgrade system. It’s been simplified and almost seems pointless now. You need tools and parts to upgrade, but they’re so rare and hard to come by that I barely upgraded a single skill to the max by the end of the game and this is a 15-hour game. It takes a new game plus to continue maxing out your skills, which can really help if you can get to them, but it takes so long that I never relied on these. Even if you found every hidden chest you wouldn’t be able to upgrade much.
With that said the pacing of the game is all over the place. Going from entire chapters of combat to entire chapters of walking around and letting the story play out. An hour or two would go by with no combat or puzzles, or you would get an entire hour of puzzle-solving with 10 minutes of combat. I also didn’t care for the open combat sections. This combat system isn’t designed for running around and taking enemies out in droves. The first game did this well by just letting you slingshot enemies. You now have to run around and fumble with the weapons and elements to decide which enemy needs what thing to take it down. It’s incredibly frustrating.
The game looks fantastic at least. This is the first “next-gen” game I think that’s been released so far. It’s not on previous generation consoles and sure as hell wouldn’t run on them. My 3080ti struggled at 1440p with maxed-out settings with DLSS turned on. It did dip down into the 40s at times. While it’s not perfectly optimized anyone outside of an RTX GPU won’t have a great time running this game. It really is a next-generation-looking game. I can’t stress enough how amazing the game looks. Beautiful vistas, lots of color, and tons of dark visuals as well. It’s a sight to behold.
With all that said, Requiem does a lot of good in the story and visuals department but falters when it comes to combat and pacing. I enjoyed the puzzles, and sections where you had to get through rats, but the open combat is infuriating, and fumbling through all the elements and weapons is too much for a stealth-focused game.