The Story of Two Children
Dramatic moments, real emotions and a powerful story: “A Plague Tale: Innocence” impressed with its adventure virtues. Why you should perhaps give the outsider a chance in May, you can find out in the preview.
Classic single-player adventures belong to a threatened species in v2019. Despite successful games such as “Metro: Exodus,” online games dominate the market. No matter if “Apex Legends,” “Anthem” or “The Division 2” – the market is crying out for bigger and bigger gaming experiences. No wonder, after all, such titles can bind gamers in the long run.
The more daring the production of an adventure like “A Plague Tale: Innocence.” The Bordeaux-based Asobo Studio is facing a real test with this dramatic adventure. Previously, the developer, founded in 2002, was only involved in supporting a few productions, “A Plague Tale” is now being created entirely under their direction and will ultimately be distributed by Focus Home Interactive.
And what chances a game like “A Plague Tale: Innocence” has? The crystal-clear answer is – this game is a real insider tip for the coming months.
The Signs are Pointing to the Storm
As the name suggests, „A Plague Tale: Innocence” is the first part of a whole series. The adventure comprises a total of 17 chapters and thus a playing time of twelve to fifteen hours. In the first round, we tried the first four chapters.
“A Plague Tale: Innocence” takes place in 1343. A mysterious epidemic is raging in France, and the Inquisition is looking to the right with a hard hand. At the court of the De-Rune family, these problems are not yet noticeable. The young Amicia, the heroine of “A Plague Tale,” is in the woods with her father Robert and is practicing the handling of her slingshot.
This passage serves as a tutorial: We shoot apples from the tree and sneak – almost like in “Assassin’s Creed” – through the high grass to a wild boar. But when we make the decisive shot, the prey runs away, and dog Leon follows. Amicia follows her comrade and penetrates deeper and deeper into the increasingly dark forest. Something is wrong here, we can tell.
A Powerful Adventure
“A Plague Tale: Innocence,” tells a linear story. In contrast to adventures like “The Walking Dead” or “Game of Thrones,” the game doesn’t require any freedom of decision or even several ends. Instead, the medieval drama constructs several areas of conflict.
On the one hand, there is the danger of the epidemic because rats transmit deadly pathogen and are also absolutely fatal enemies. They eat humans and animals with skin and hair and live thousands under the earth. Asobo Studio relies on an internally developed graphics engine. It can display up to 5000 rodents at once. The result: At some points, the rats bubble out of the ground like torrents and flood the screen.
The De-Rune family is also bubbling over. Amicia’s brother Hugo is ill and mother Beatrice is searching for a cure. The little one is kept under lock. Amicia hardly sees her mother and doesn’t know her brother at all.
If you like “Game of Thrones” or other medieval series, then “A Plague Tale” is the right place for you. The game is not stingy with dramatic and equally drastic pictures. We do without spoilers at this point and reveal only so much. Already in the first twenty minutes, the game gave us surprising shockers several blows in the pit of the stomach.
Brother and Sister
Playfully “A Plague Tale” – similar to perhaps “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons” – relies on light co-op strikes. After Amicia and Hugo flee the court, the two are (almost) inseparable.
The boy clings to his sister’s hand, and so you both lead through the turmoil of the dramatic scenes at the same time. But at some points, you also work together and lift Hugo on projections or through windows. He then opens doors again or pushes objects as a climbing aid.
There were no problems with game mechanics. Hugo doesn’t seem like an appendage but forms an emotional anchor. Especially the dialogues between him and Amicia are exceptionally well done and show again and again the fragile relationship between the two children.
“A Plague Tale” will continue to focus on creeping passages and puzzles of the environment. For example, we scurry through cornfields past the men of the Inquisition and distract them with thrown stones or even pots.
The stealth mechanism proves to be very simple and understandable. The soldier’s patrol on fixed paths can be distracted several times if necessary. If you want to play aggressively, it is also possible to a certain degree. A head shot with a slingshot is enough and guards without a helmet bless the temporal.
„A Plague Tale” also introduces a simple upgrade system. Using eight resources such as alcohol, rope, tools, and sulfur, we can build inventory upgrades for more storage space or upgrade Amicia’s Slingshot. It is even used in a mini-boss fight against a knight. Bit by bit we shoot the armor of the lad’s body.
The rats bring with them an entirely different kind of threat. In the dark, the beasts are deadly. But fire drives them away. So when we explore an old crypt, we have to search for torches, light fireplaces or even feed meat to the rodents.
Occasionally we also shimmy from one safe point to the next with quickly burning woods. The puzzles are not groundbreaking or particularly challenging, but they require the right timing and provide a pleasant tempo change in the game. The igniters introduced in the fourth chapter give a change of pace. They allow you to ignite objects from a distance, making you a little more flexible.
“A Plague Tale” is a pleasant surprise. Even though the adventure game is comparatively easy to play with crawl passages and puzzles, it convinces with its successful technique, lovable characters and several shock moments.
The game is a pure story game about the experiences and the fight for the survival of Hugo and Amicia. “A Plague Tale” is definitely a real insider tip between many AAA titles.