Developer: Asobo Studio
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Follow the grim tale of young Amicia and her little brother Hugo (Who has an unknown disease forcing him to spend his childhood locked in his room, so for that reason he never saw the world per se) in a heartrending journey through one of the darkest hours of history. Hunted by Inquisition soldiers and surrounded by unstoppable swarms of rats, Amicia and Hugo will learn how to trust each other as they struggle to survive against overwhelming odds and will fight to find the doctor that was taking care of Hugo in this brutal, unforgiving world.
The Year is 1349. The plague ravages the Kingdom of France. Amicia and her younger brother Hugo are pursued by the Inquisition through villages devastated by the disease. On their way, they will have to join forces with other children and evade swarms of rats using fire and light. Aided only by the link that binds their fates together, they will face untold horrors in their struggle to survive, as their adventure begins… the time of innocence ends.
Enough of what we know already! Let´s get into this game!
A Plague Tale: Innocence it’s a third person stealth/story driven kind of game but if you are not a fan of the genre (like I was BEFORE playing this game) I STRONGLY advise you to try this game out! The game follows a straight line so there is no real difficulty for you to accomplish the game (There is no Easy, Medium or Hard mode), the game also doesn’t give you many options other than where you should go if you try to go to a place that the game doesn’t want you to go you will face an invisible wall that blocks you from going there, the open areas have a path for you to follow but you can look for items like “gifts”, these items have a story behind them, and if you are into history its guaranteed that you will like to read each one of them.
The puzzles: The puzzles aren’t hard to solve, because you always have the resources you need either at hand or really near you when you need it and the characters explain exactly what you have to do and how to do it. Don’t get me wrong! That DEFINITELY does not make the game bad, actually, the puzzles and sneaking through the inquisitors are one of the best things on the game. To help you get past the inquisitors and the puzzles Amicia has a Sling, which you can give a good upgrade, after learning alchemy you can create stun ammo or fireballs (Or Fire Stones if you like hahaha). You can also expand your carrying capacity, improve your resistance “armor” or even reduce the noise you make when walking with these upgrades. Playing as Amicia the game mechanics work very well BUT I do have a small issue on that part… for the first hours that I played the game, I found it very “heavy” to control Amicia, after getting used to it, it was ok. I read some people saying that other characters could be a challenge for you to fulfil your puzzles and that they have a bit of a delay to follow your commands and that could be the end for you… I strongly disagree, if you play the game properly and pay attention to the NPCs you won´t have any problem like I didn’t. Another great thing on the game is that if a rat or an inquisitor gets you… that’s it… try again! BUT this isn’t a real problem to this game because the auto-save is very reliable, it saves your progress all the time so you don’t go back too much from where you died.
One of the options you have is to face the inquisitors with your sling and for that, you can count with an auto-aim system to hit them on the head, don´t try to turn into some kind of Rambo and face many inquisitors at once because you won’t be able to face too many of them. Aside from your sling, you can choose to throw stones (Or jars) with your hand to call enemies´ attention and the most important thing of all is that when you use your hand instead of using your sling you don’t make any noise.
If I wasn’t writing a review I would just say “NAILED IT” hahaha but like Jack, the Ripper would say “Let´s go piece by piece” … (This expression works better in Portuguese I guess hahaha).
RATS DUDE! RATS EVERYWERE! ANGRY! BLOODTHISTY ANGRY MULTIPLE RATS! They are the main thing on this game, the sound of them squealing around you or when they break through walls or come out of the floor… Craving for a piece of your flesh is real… really disturbing! But in some points, it’s a bit “clumsy?” or “bumbling?” I´m not sure… the thing is that they walk through each other and don´t follow the laws of gravity (aside from other bugs), which breaks the immersion for a few seconds, unfortunately. Like I said before, the sound and the number of rats that are coming for you is at least agonizing as hell, as it should be.
The characters voice: That is something that the creators need to work on it and improve a bit. I played the game both in English and French to see if there was any “acting” difference and the conclusion was: None at all… It´s the same, to be honest It was really hard to play the game in French because I don´t speak French so I needed the subtitles and since the game has some really struggling action scenes, you have to choose between read what they are talking or run for your life…its nearly impossible to do both.
The Soundtrack/ Environment: They have made a BEAUTIFUL soundtrack for “The Plague Tale” it has all the elements that the game atmosphere needs and totally goes with the scenarios and what the game is trying to pass! The soundtrack basically walks together with the environment that is full of accurate history moments from the XIV century, everything is well built, and the graphics are beautiful, giving you the exact sensation of how things look like on that dark period, it is very immersive.
I really hope that “Innocence” it’s just the beginning and that this game is just a first chapter of the “Plague Tales” because you can easily see that this game is made by people who LOVE what they´re doing! What they accomplished here is quite unique, because every time we see a medieval game the first things that come to our mind is “Ohhh another RPG… An Action game… etc” but not this time! They brought a very new approach to the theme.
The game has 17 chapters and has a lot of stealth/sneak parts which I never really enjoyed until now. The graphics are excellent! The plot is really HEAVY and the kid´s innocence makes everything darker. Unfortunately, there are some ugly bugs (which I understand in a company that is “starting” this kind of games now). The game has some strong points like the real danger feeling that the action scenes give you and how well built is the brother and sister relationship and also the fact that the kid you´re protecting is not annoying like normal kids in games are, these elements help the game to “catch” you pretty quickly.
The environment is unbelievable! They are scary, disturbed, horrible, gory and gives you that agony that we all love in a game, right? Hahaha, the developers described their landscapes like this:
“This Game may contain content not appropriate for all ages, or may not be appropriate for viewing at work: Frequent Violence or Gore, General Mature Content”.
So that’s it! The game has all the elements to be an EPIC 10, but unfortunately, it is really hard to get it right on the first time. Hope to hear about the next game really soon.