A Plague Tale: Innocence Review
Don’t Turn Off The Lights
"I think I've been playing way too many plague games lately..."
*This is an old review; much of what you will read here no longer fully represents my view, skills, and knowledge.*
A plague tale is a shocking, thrilling, and emotional adventure game in which we are told about the story of Amicia and Hugo De Rune, siblings whose lives took a big turn and went from calm and tranquil to dark and full of terrors after a series of tragic events. Orphans, pursued by the inquisition, mysterious swarms of plague-carrying rats that very much reminds of the Black Death, - that is if we put all the eerie magic thing surrounding them aside - and with seemingly no one on their side, the two of them give all they have to overcome the difficulties and survive together against all odds in these dangerous, blurred times where it’s hard to tell friends from enemies.
The first few minutes into the story we are told to not get attached to anyone, as people tend to be extremely short-lived in this world. Death is a common sight, and that's not only because of the plague caused by the rats but also because cold-hearted humans who take pleasure in the suffering of others.
Developer: Asobo Studio
Publisher: Focus Home Int.
Release Date: May 14, 2019
As a story-telling adventure game, A Plague Tale has a beautiful and engaging narrative, with an extremely touching story accompanied by incredible visuals and character’s acting that are so convincing it feels like a movie with real actors. The game does a fantastic job at keeping its story on the same level of quality through its entirety, and that’s mostly thanks to a strong start, that raises many unanswered questions that slowly get answered as the story unfolds.
With only a 10-12 hour long story, A Plague Tale may seem short to some people, however, even though it’s short, it offered an experience so substantial, plus the story was so compelling and involving that even after I finished the game, I still felt the impact of having played through it, something it has been a while since I last felt.
Some characteristics that stood out the most for me either in a positive or negative way were: Great animations, with just some facial expressions that were a bit lacking; the combat, or as I’d prefer to call “lethal takedown” was okay, with shy but existent dynamics that would develop as you’d progress through the story; puzzles were okay despite being simple and somewhat easy; with only a single ending, the game’s story is too linear, and the few choices we make have very little impact in the world; enemy AI was not the greatest thing, and it sometimes felt plain stupid; a unique crafting system where you have to find and collect materials to upgrade your gear; mechanics that were far too simple and plain, lacking dynamism to make them truly stand out; and last but not least, awesomely crafted unique and thrilling scenarios with lots of things happening simultaneously.
Gameplay usually isn’t the strongest point of a storytelling game, but A Plague Tale put up a great combination of values to create a somewhat great, almost seamless and unique experience despite its main focus being on telling a story.
The Issues Were More Personal
Out of my entire playthrough I can only name a few true issues I encountered, with them being more on the personal-taste side. As it was stated before, puzzles are far too simple, and objects are always way too conveniently placed. Following the same pattern each time you find yourself in a similar situation, puzzles lose what to me is the purpose of them existing in the first place: having a hard time figuring out the right approach, and the one that will allow you to proceed.
Because the main puzzles work so similarly, and we are only introduced to a handful of few select mechanics, getting through puzzles become more of a nuisance than a challenge. Figuring out how to get past difficulties becomes second sense, much to the point we only have to look to the scenarios for a mere second to figure out our next step (again, this is all more about personal taste, and for you the experience may be different).
I also felt the game could greatly benefit from more dynamic mechanics, such as more prominent choice and consequence, that would reward smart choices, and penalize the reckless. Multiple endings would also be a great addition. By making each playthrough unique, the game would lose its straight, linear image, and I’m sure in doing so, it would get way more attention, so as a result, the already great game would become even better.
A Plague Tale: Innocence graphics remind of those of a movie for its beautiful cinematic imagery. This game’s visuals are truly impressive — lighting, textures, colors are all breathtaking even in the lowest settings ! The art-style is superb, ambiance and details are amazing, the rat swarms, the mystery surrounding them, the huge moving dark masses with hundreds of eyes create some truly visually shocking scenarios. The character design in this game is seriously one of the greatest I’ve seen in a while. Truly impressive work.
If I could suggest one last thing that I believe would add a lot to the overall creepy vibe of the game it would be hair/fur animations for each individual rat. Now that would be a truly frightening scene to behold ! Sadly a missed opportunity to scare off players.
Jokes aside, a thrilling story such as the one of A Plague Tale accompanied by great visuals is always a welcome sight.
If you’re the type to get sold by visuals alone, completely dodging my advice, A Plague Tale: Innocence is a way to go, plus if you go only for the looks, bear in mind you’ll also get an entire bonus game alongside the beautiful graphics.
What A Plague Tale meant to me was the loss of innocence amidst daring times. A young girl and her little brother living in a cruel world; the stress growing strong at each step. Their anger and emotions pouring out and manifesting into small bursts against their few truest allies, undermining already fragile relationships. When their seemingly frivolous efforts are finally rewarded, hope is reignited, but it doesn’t take long before the cold reality punches us in the face again, reminding us of what we are told at the very beginning: people are temporary and the few friends we make along the way are to be zealed and held dear, for they are certainly not remaining forever.
The game was not perfect — it had some pretty visible flaws, but knowing its focus was on story-telling, it did a fantastic job at, well, telling its story. The flaws are tolerable and may even be missed by some people. A Plague Tale: Innocence was an overall great game with a story that I’m sure will be very welcome to many, and it should at the very least be interesting to the rest, so either way it’s a win-win condition.
A true visual beauty, with many graphics settings that are sure to please most people, even on the lowest settings.
More on the shorter side, yet with an incredible story-telling that never feels short, thanks to how well the entire thing plays out.
Awesome scenarios with lots of things happening simultaneously, plus unique mechanics that make some parts really stand out.
A game and story that remains insteresting and engaging all the way, without ever falter or drop the level of quality.
Combat is too simple, and enemy AI isn't all too great as well, making the action parts of the game feel weak or simply dumb.
Puzzles are super simplistic, always reusing the same pattern, with always way too coveniently placed interactive objects.
Upgrades aren't too special, with most being just slight buffs for some basic stats and resources carrying capacity.
Only a single ending, cutting the possibility of the player decisions mattering for the world and characters we interact.
A Plague Tale: Innocence
A beautifully played 10-12 hour-long thrilling story with many enchanting, sometimes dark, yet always beautiful scenarios. A story that starts timidly, with the plot slowly building up to create an engaging narrative that plays on the same level the entire game.
08/10/2020 - Caius, The Innocence Incarnate