|Publisher||Focus Home Interactive|
|A Plague Tale: Innocence Release Date||May 14, 2019|
I should say: I’d been following A Plague Tale: Innocence video game since the very first announcement in 2017. Its setting and the concept of kids surviving in France devastated by the plague were too attractive I could ignore them. The more information developers gave out, the more attention their project gained. Nevertheless, I felt doubts as well: what if they couldn’t make it?
My doubts disappeared after the first few minutes I spend playing this game. Still, the project has certain minuses.
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A Plague Tale Innocence Review Intro
So, it’s the year 1349 in France. The country is in the Edwardian War. The conflict is at its calm phase: the merciless plague epidemic was the reason to cease war operations temporary. Here, the adventures of a 15-years-old girl Amicia de Rune and her 5-year-old brother Hugo begin.
Children lost their parents and home within minutes, and they have to run from Inquisition. For some reason, inquisitors want the boy. It will be a long journey for children who will face all the nightmares of abandoned lands.
A Plague Tale: Innocence Story
A Plague Tale: Innocence is a linear adventure which will tell you an exciting story mixed with the mystic a bit. Despite the concentration on children, the game demonstrates scenes which are more than adult: to survive, heroes should do things they couldn’t even see in the most frightening nightmare. Everything is in the game: if they need to go through corpses – they go; if they have to sacrifice other person’s life to save themselves – they do it; if there is the need to kill for the brother – Amicia is ready to do that.
A Plague Tale: Innocence shows relations between sister and brother in bright details. The girl didn’t know Hugo who suffered from a rare disease since his birth, so she has to make friends with him from the very beginning, and it’s an emergency around. The boy behaves as a typical 5-year-old child: he fusses, sulks on his sister sometimes, panics when left alone, etc.
At the same time, he is delighted to see the world which is new to him. When necessary, he finds enough strength to help Amicia or support her with kind words.
When Inquisition fighters follow your footsteps, and the surrounding reality scares more than any nightmare, no wonder you want to give up sometimes. Fortunately, kind people ready to help heroes without asking anything in return exist even in the world of A Plague Tale: Innocence.
Amicia and Hugo will meet other children, random strangers, and assistants. There are still more bad guys: not only soldiers but those who are ready to leave children alone without caring about them. The antagonist will most probably disappoint you with one-dimensionality but impress with incredibly pathetic appearances.
The journey will lead characters through different locations: decorations replace each other rapidly. They change from a quiet village to a dark forest and from a battlefield full of dead bodies to the soldiers’ camp and farther, to face the unknown. Together with new locations, A Plague Tale: Innocence brings new trials.
A Plague Tale: Innocence Gameplay Review
In a matter of gameplay, A Plague Tale: Innocence is a stealth-action game with puzzle quests. Amicia has almost nothing to counter knights equipped with metal armor and weapons. So, children have to hide in high grasses, distract opponents, and look for ways to pass around them.
I can’t say the AI is too smart: a vase thrown to a correct place is enough for a soldier to stare at it within a couple of minutes and to ignore a pack of children sneaking through the open ground behind him. Even if the opponent notices heroes, hiding in a bush nearby will make him lose any interest about runners.
In case they fail to avoid contact, alchemy and Amicia’s sling will help. Items crafted with collected resources allow knocking the warden out for a short time or hit his helmet. A Plague Tale: Innocence will even bring you into boss fights: here, patience and clever use of knowledge mastered before are keys to win.
Puzzles and Action
When speaking of puzzles in A Plague Tale: Innocence, the game can offer both simple (to find a platform and then make a path through the high wall) and more complicated ones which are mostly connected with rats. Those rat packs were the main feature of A Plague Tale: Innocence marketing campaign. And the developers created probably the most realistic rat pack simulation mechanics ever seen in games. Rats here can kill the adult person in seconds.
Light is the weapon to fight these evil creatures: when holding a torch, Amicia and Hugo create a safe island around themselves. Sometimes, there is no torch nearby, so heroes improvise: throw flame charges into haystacks, run from one lighting source to the other, or adjust to lighting flashes which scare rats.
Sometimes, you can turn rats into your allies: for instance, to bait them with an enemy soldier by hitting his lantern with a stone. During such moments, you’ll be impressed with your cruelty and feel frightened with the view of a corpse.
The realistic picture strengthens impressions and emotions: authors don’t feel shy to shade the innocence of spectacular landscapes with dead bodies of humans and animals. It’s a pity, but in addition to beautiful graphics, there also are featureless face animations, invisible “walls,” rare “bugs” and bushes or branches not reacting to character models. They partially influence the deep diving into the atmosphere and give out the fact that A Plague Tale: Innocence budget was not the biggest.
A Plague Tale: Innocence takes 10-12 hours of your time, and the game does not motivate players to come back to it once more. It is a finished adventure telling a frightening medieval tale. If you want to get the most impressions, play with French sounds. Of course, one can explore locations several times more to find collectible items (if you like getting 100% of in-game achievements), but the whole necessary experience comes to players from the first time.
Still, I can’t say it is bad: the modern gaming industry s crowded with long service-games, so a short and completed story of A Plague Tale: Innocence is like a breath of fresh air.