By 1348, the plague had reached Sicily and quickly spreaded across the island and then mainland Italy became infected with the Black Death. From Italy, the Black Death spread west across most of Western Europe; striking Spain, Portugal, France, England and then the whole continent fell. This is the setup for A Plague Tale: Innocence, a game that has the potential to be one of the year’s best games.
A Plague Tale begins before the outbreak of the Black Death in France, France is at war with England in the Hundred Years’ War, English armies are at the gates and the Black Death just arrived in Paris, beginning its blanket of death across Western Europe. While France is at war with England and the Black Death begins its blanket of death and destruction, the Inquisition is in search of a little boy named Hugo who has a mysterious illness that cannot be explained and this is where the game begins.
You play as Amicia de Rune, teenage daughter of a noble French family. Amicia’s cozy life is brought to an end by the Inquisition, which ransacks her ancestral home and kills her family. She and her brother Hugo, a boy that is sick with an unknown disease must escape into the French countryside. The problem is that the Inquisition wants Hugo, he’s the object of their pursuit and they will not stop until they get their hands on him, it falls to Amica to protect and guide him through a world that is turning upside down as the Black Death begins to tear a path of destruction through France.
A Plague Tale is a unique game, publishers no longer fund games like A Plague Tale anymore which makes this one of a kind and on top of an already fascinating premise, it’s a type of game that no longer comes around anymore. A Plague Tale is a stealth game through and through, you sneak under tables, hide in bushes, through tents and much more although the term “stealth” is a bit of a loose definition when it comes to A Plague Tale.
The stealth section is quite good but sadly, it doesn’t add much to the game and much less the combat which I assume is the whole point as the most interesting sections of the game involve the bubonic plague and the rats that carry the virus since its the whole entire hook of the game. The rats are the more interesting parts of the game, hordes of bubonic-plague carrying rats swarm dark places which form a wall of flesh-eating rats at your feet as you make your way via torch. As you would expect from a game like this, there are a ton of puzzles to be solved and many of these puzzles can be found here which can be triggered by lighting a fire, moving your torch, putting a light out, or hitting sacks of food that drop onto the ground which serves as the distraction for the rats. The puzzles are nothing quite difficult, which is fine, the gameplay is fine and is servicable but it isn’t what the game revolves around and that’s okay. Story is key here.
A Plague Tale has shades of survival horror in it as there are sections, especially in Chapter 3, when things feel quite uneasy and the atmosphere turns quite bleak although I hoped that it would be more of a survival horror adventure as the bubonic plague is a scary thing in itself and the theme can be turned into something horrific. I do wish that it landed more on the survival horror side as the game has shades of it and you could fool anyone into thinking that the game was indeed survival horror.
Instead of survival horror, the game is darker then that and its bleaker then some certain games that claim to be an adult oriented game. A Plague Tale is indeed an adult oriented game, the scenarios you’re often faced in are quite dire situations like a situation in Chapter 3 where you make your way across a church and enter a crypt that houses the rats and is the impact point of how the rats came to the church. The darker themes are great and make you feel immersed in this world.
A Plague Tale isn’t the most accurate retelling of the Black Plague, the rats have some form of supernatural being to them as they behave in a way that something supernatural would behave like or something possessed would behave like. It’s a great story that weaves historical facts into fantasy, firmly placing it into the historical fiction genre; it draws up things like Alchemy and medieval historical facts like the Catholic Church being a heavy presence which was very true of the time period and blends it into something coherent.
All in all, A Plague Tale is an interesting game; one that feels anarchistic and out of place in 2019. It honestly feels like a 2010 game, a game that an unknown publisher would’ve released in the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 era. I’m not kidding when I say that, publishers don’t make games like this anymore and for that reason, you should give it a shot. Given how bland some videogames are in today’s world, A Plague Tale is a gem and I’m very pleasantely surprised that a game like this could be made in today’s world. Stay tuned for my review.
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