One of the best tales ever written, A Plague Tale: The Cult of the Rat People is set in a dark and fascinating universe, populated by vicious rats and similarly deranged monks. Storytelling and gameplay are well-balanced in Innocence, which tells the story of omnipresent death and siblinghood through the prism of stealth and puzzle-solving.
- A fantastic, gripping story.
- Every character has excellent voice acting.
- There is no “sleep mode” or “idle mode” in this game.
- Long load times plague the Switch streaming version.
- The Switch streaming version has murky images and is aesthetically pared down.
A Tale About, Well, The Plague & Innocence
With 13th Century southwestern France as its setting, here we have a highly digestible adventure that explores the oft-fraught relationship between siblings, Amicia and Hugo, as they confront obstacles well beyond their habitually sheltered lives.
It’s a fast-paced adventure set in the southwest France of the 13th century that delves into the complicated relationship between Amicia and Hugo, two younger siblings who are thrust into situations well beyond what they’re used to.
While his mother does her best to relieve him of his lifelong illness — a crucial plot point in the novel – Hugo is the product of his mother’s overbearing but ultimately loving parenting style.
On the other hand, Amicia has clung to her father’s coattails as a flawed leader more at home in the woods with her beloved hunting hound, Lion — an errant steward of the neighboring Guyenne region.
In the first chapter, the inquisition swoops in and murders their parents, driving them to flee in terror. Adding to the already existing dangers, rats have made their way into the area and are either spreading the plague or ruthlessly mutilating those who are unlucky enough to come across them.
They are brought together by the intricacy of this world, which is full of plague-carrying rats and foul-mouthed soldiers who are fervently searching for Amicia and Hugo.
It’s a constant battle between the two of them as they try to define the bounds of their relationship, with Hugo prone to bouts of defiance and tantrums whenever Amicia gets too close, but they usually manage to work things out in a few tender moments.
Most of the book’s seventeen chapters revolve around chaperoning Hugo. A few puzzles are solved by him sneaking through obstacles inaccessible to Amicia, but the most of the gameplay is spent taming his tendency to dash headlong into danger, which is a major challenge.
We are constantly reminded that Hugo, unlike Atreus in God of War, is completely helpless, and the game makes that clear to us.
First, Hugo’s flippancy frustrates the player, making us wonder if he wishes to die because of his lack of concern about guards.
Even though his surroundings are rife with violence, he retains his innocence and the novel explores this gradual loss of innocence in a hauntingly beautiful fashion.
More and more of Hugo’s erratic behavior is shown to be an intentional design choice on the side of the developers, one that anyone who has dealt with an annoying younger sister or spent time around squabbling toddlers can relate to.
In addition to an alchemist’s apprentice, Arthur and Melie, a brother and sister combo of rough around the edges robbers, and a boisterous blacksmith’s son, Rodric, the siblings encounter a wide range of personalities.
It’s impossible not to be captivated and grateful for the support these interactions bring throughout the novel.
A particularly unnerving scene features Inquisition chief Vitalis injecting himself with Episanguis using a crude syringe and puncturing his arm to release flowing epithelial fluid like some sort of Middle Ages drug addict.
Towards the end of the book, there is a dramatic shift in the balance of power. Much of the climax’s suspense is better experienced in person to prevent ruining the mystery. Then then, what a shocker.
Stealth, Puzzles, & Combat
However, there are enough interesting puzzles and set pieces to keep things interesting, but they’re not too difficult. The puzzles are some of the more enjoyable aspects of the game’s 12-hour or so plot despite the fact that most take a certain amount of trial and error.
It’s a lot of fun to figure out the challenges that A Plague Tale throws at you. Inflammed sticks, an alchemist’s concoction, extinguishing lamps, and downing dangling portions of meat are just some of the ways rats have been used to wreak havoc in the past.
Concoctions from Amicia’s alchemy bag aren’t vast, but they can be used in a variety of ways to solve each task.
Despite its primitive nature, the game’s crafting system encourages players to seek down precious materials, as each upgrade results in a real benefit that reduces the stress of encounters.
The stumbling battle mechanics of Amicia’s sling in A Plague Tale: Innocence are by far the worst problem in the game. As expected, Asobo has raised the difficulty level in order to reflect the fragility of both Amicia and Hugo.
However, at times this means contending with a guard running straight on results, in a muddled panic, to fire off a rock in the hopes of a headshot rather than a carefully executed combo of commands.
But at times, a guard running directly towards you results in a confusing panic, rather than a precisely calculated combination of orders, to fire a rock in the hope of a headshot.
The player rapidly learns how harsh the guards may be if they spot Amicia and Hugo while they are fully detected.
The gameplay has an inherent and welcome difficulty. The art of stealth is largely concerned with observing the patterns of opponent movement and then sneaking up on or wiping them out one by one when they’re not looking.
Asobo does well to provide enough variety with suitable – although a little repetitive – variants of the basic formula.
A Carefully Curated World
Asobo does well to provide enough variety with suitable – although a little repetitive – variants of the basic formula.
Despite the repetitive nature of the core recipe, Asobo does a commendable job of providing enough variety.
As the narrative shifts between tenderness and sheer terror, the images reflect this contradiction. Simply put, it’s a breathtaking experience.
Woods steeped in autumnal crimson hues and Gothic cathedrals appear to have been plucked right from the horror genre’s eerie chambers.
Alchemists are hard to find in this heartbreaking chapter, which takes the player across a farm in pursuit of one. Playing hide & seek in the orchard before the main farmhouse becomes increasingly gloomy as pig carcasses litter the path going up to it.
Another scene sees us traversing a battlefield littered with dead troops, while a gigantic aqueduct towers above. Everywhere you look, you’ll see the juxtaposition of death and beauty. There are also the constant critters, of course.
Asobo’s unique engine brings the rats to life in seamless and astounding vividness. The rodents are a feat in and of themselves. You’ll see a tail wiggle here, a scurry of feet scamper there.
In a tight spot or when flowing from a dark nook, their distinct individual components are most clearly visible.
One of the strengths of the game is its capacity to inspire terror in the player in the same way it does for Amicia and her friends, which is difficult to avoid at times.
It’s worth mentioning that there are no problems or bugs. AAA studios should pay more attention to the finer points of their games, and it’s a breath of fresh air.
Stellar Soundtrack & Voice Acting
As you might expect from a game with a historical setting like A Plague Tale: Innocence, the music is lush and full of period instruments. Rather of relying too heavily on well-worn classical motifs, the score makes use of a wide variety of aural textures and tempos.
The mood of the music matches the story perfectly, varying from melancholy to threatening while occasionally dipping into hopeful notes to match the game’s small periods of respite.
During the climaxes, the dominant leitmotif is an especially powerful piece that rises in intensity. As a whole, the soundtrack does an excellent job of transporting the player into the game’s universe.
It’s a pleasure to listen to. For Amicia, the English language performers’ unapologetically French intonation is expertly handled, avoiding the dangers of ridicule while adding significant authenticity.
The snarly guttural Inquisition guards to the cockney British soldiers and their copious use of expletives are all excellent examples of NPC conversation.
A Plague Tale’s setting is fantastic, despite the fact that it appears to be considerably more scary and daunting than it really is.
Although it gives the impression of being quite open, A Plague Tale frequently directs you toward the completion of your next simple job through dialogue or on-screen clues. While this makes the plot more concise and avoids unnecessary actions, I found myself yearning for a richer universe and the opportunity to be challenged by it on a deeper level. There are times when A Plague Tale feels like it is pushing you forward to safety rather than allowing you to explore its interesting landscapes fully. In spite of this, no two levels are alike in terms of aesthetics or feeling. If nothing else, what is shown of the setting lends a sense of authenticity to a story that blends elements of reality and imagination in unexpected ways. While Amicia and Hugo’s tumultuous relationship takes center stage, the environment they live in adds another layer of intrigue.
Much of your time in A Plague Tale is spent using various objects and concoctions to evade soldiers, and every single human enemy in the game kills you in one hit and you have very little control over them. In order to divert them from your course, throw pebbles or pots towards blazing metal items. If metal isn’t nearby, throw pots at the ground. Indicators over the heads of foes show their awareness of the stealth detection. No enemy ever mistakenly identified me, but I’ve also never been surprised when I barged into a room and was completely unnoticed.
Even though Amicia is the king of sneaking, she does have a weapon: a sling that flings boulders at her adversaries to kill or incapacitate them. The sling contributes to the game’s emphasis on stealth because it takes time to wind up, creates noise, and only damages foes’ heads. Helmeted soldiers, who must first be hit with an unique concoction that causes them to remove their helmet before tossing a rock, limit its potency. It is possible to perform a stealth kill, but it requires an alchemical talent that can’t be used too often. Going around a pair of guards by eluding them is always a better option than shooting them.
Some sequences, though, particularly in the closing chapters, require aggression rather than stealth, but most of these combat sequences resemble puzzles more than anything else. Instead of relying on fast reflexes and expert aim, it’s about figuring out the ideal sequence in which to dispatch a group of enemies so you aren’t seen. This is where Amicia and Hugo’s vulnerability is most apparent, because drawing the attention of one soldier typically brings the cavalry. You have to think carefully before you act. Unfortunately, these genuinely tense moments of are almost entirely reserved for the final few chapters of this 15-hour adventure.
Although in the final chapters there are a few fights that need aggressiveness over subtlety, but these fights are more like puzzles than anything. Instead of depending on lightning-fast reflexes and pinpoint accuracy, you must devise a strategy for eliminating a group of foes while remaining undetected. They are most vulnerable here, because catching the attention of one soldier usually results in the cavalry being summoned to the scene. Consider your options before making a decision. It’s a shame that these dramatic moments are confined to the final few chapters of this 15-hour journey.
When rats are thrown into the mix, things get extremely interesting. Because I was not alive at the time of the Black Death, I have no way of knowing for sure, yet I believe A Plague Tale: An innocent touch is all that is needed to create hideous armies of vermin in the form of rats. Rats swarm in large numbers, covering the ground with their feces. Even as I neared the finish, the constant hissing and scampering was enough to make my skin crawl.
When the orphans are in the light, they are protected from the gnawing grips of rat infestations. These puzzles are always visually intimidating and pretty gross, but they aren’t nearly as demanding as they look. Repelling rodents with lit sticks and torches is possible, but the flames of the latter go out rapidly, so you must make a deliberate move to another secure spot before the timer runs out. Throughout A Plague Tale, Amicia learns useful alchemist abilities related to fire and the rats, such as Ignifier, which can be flung or tossed at lanterns or fire pits to create safe zones from a distance, and a contrasting ability can extinguish flames to sicc rats onto soldiers who are pursuing you. After a handful of chapters, the rats were more of an unpleasant nuisance than a challenge to think my way through, even when I needed to move beams of light and use mechanisms to switch the position of fire pits. You can also use an alchemy ability to attract neighboring rats and an alchemy ability to kill a small number when there aren’t any light sources available.
Many other children from various backgrounds are encountered while searching for a new home for Amicia and Hugo as they flee the Inquisition. For example, they may turn cranks to solve riddles, pick locks to gain entry, and even knock out soldiers under Amicia’s direction They don’t offer anything to gameplay, but their existence greatly enhances the plot progression. Examples of this kind of understanding came from the young scholar Lucas, who was well-versed in subjects like as rats and alchemy. Everything from the key sequences to the trivial conversation is done quite well in the dialogue.
Is plague tale innocence difficult?
Most Frustrating Game I’ve Played Recently, But Still Worth a Playthrough: A Plague Tale: Innocence
Is A Plague Tale: Innocence a AAA game?
Occasionally, a video game comes out with all the “AAA gaming” fervor and talent, but without the financial heft or marketing muscle of a Warner Bros. or Activision behind it. And it’s the best game I’ve played so far in 2018.
What is the story of plague tale innocence?
Amicia de Rune and her ill brother Hugo hide from soldiers of the French Inquisition and hordes of rats that are spreading the black plague in 14th century Aquitaine, France during the Hundred Years’ War.
The threats Amicia and Hugo face are just as harsh as the techniques they employ to fight them off at times. Watching a group of innocent children come to terms with this psychological burden is just as heavy.
The title shines brightest because of the death that surrounds them. Despite their weakness, the game accurately portrays their strength.
More importantly, A Plague Tale: Innocence is a joy to watch from beginning to end, making it one of the best films of the year thus far. The compelling narrative provides a continuous backbone of fascination to justify both the investment of time and the price tag when the game falters.