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Metroid: Samus Returns

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A Plague Tale: Innocence

Posted by GG Goblin On May - 24 - 2019

An emotional trip through medieval France, avoiding soldiers and rats.

Asobo Studios’ A Plague Tale: Innocence really does what it says on the tin in a marvellous way. It is an engrossing tale about a land ravaged with plague, and it does feature a character that embodies innocence, complete with wonder at the world around him.

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Set during the Hundred Years War in France, A Plague Tale has the player control the young Amicia de Rune, born to a noble family with all of the privilege that entails. Amicia is no courtly lady though, and is quite happy spending time out in the wild, hunting with her father. She rarely sees here mother though, whose time is taken up with caring for Amicia’s five year old brother Hugo, who is suffering from a mysterious illness that Amicia knows little about. The game begins innocently enough, but very quickly takes a dark turn when the Inquisition turn up, looking for young Hugo, and after some devastating events, Amicia finds herself on the run through France with Hugo, the younger brother that she barely knows. Through the course of the story, Amicia will face the grim reality of the world around here while coming to care more and more for her brother. For Hugo though, a child who has been pretty much confined to a room for most of his life, the journey will be filled with both wonder and absolute terror.

A Plague Tale plays out mostly like a defensive stealth game with a touch of puzzle solving. Amicia’s main goal in the game is to get her brother to safety, which is no easy task considering their world is filled with soldiers and the most horrific rats ever seen in a video game. The game plays in a mostly linear way, with the player following scripted routes for the most part from one goal to another. Despite this lack of choice in direction for the player, there are plenty of other choices that the player will get to make, and the brilliant writing in the game keeps everything flowing very nicely.

Amicia has two very different adversaries in the soldiers and the rats, and each will be approached in a different way. When it comes to the soldiers, players will have to take a mostly stealth-based approach, hiding in long grass and distracting soldiers to get them out of the way. Amicia’s only form of offence is her sling, which she is quite handy with. There will come times when the player will have to kill soldiers with the sling, courtesy of a stone to the head, but for the most part the sling will act as a tool. In the early game it can be used to create distractions, but as the player progresses and comes across different ammunition types, other options will present themselves, such as forcing soldiers to remove helmets making them more susceptible to that stone to the head. For the most part though, soldiers are best avoided while Amicia and Hugo, hand in hand, sneak past unseen.

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The rats are a completely different threat though. With their superior sense of smell, there is no hiding from these vermin, and so Amicia and Hugo, and any other companions they may have with them at the time, will have to take advantage of the rats’ aversion to light and fire. This part of the gameplay becomes more puzzle like, with the player having to guide Amicia from one light source to the next, or use a rapidly exhausting torch to move safely through the swarms. Again, the sling will come in handy, as the player unlocks new ammo that can set light to certain things, providing safety. In an incredibly grim twist, the player can also tempt the rats away by sacrificing everything from a lump of ham, or an entire pig, to enemy soldiers to the rats. It is quite unpleasant to see the rats strip a soldier down to the bone, but it takes are of two problems at once and through the story Amicia hardens to the atrocities she has to witness, and even cause, in order to keep Hugo safe.

The visuals are a star of the game. While the tale may be grim and desolate, the visuals are anything but, with even the darkest of moments presented beautifully on screen. In those times when it isn’t all ruins and darkness, and the player gets a chance to really enjoy the French scenery, it is quite magical. From the environments to the character animations, A Plague Tale has the sort of quality visuals that enhance the game and pull the player into the story.

The gameplay is not complicated through the ten or so hour runtime. There is some minor crafting, with resources to collect along the way, and some new tools for Amicia to discover and work out how to use. Even Hugo has some use along the way, such as squeezing through small spaces. To be honest, it is difficult to find anything wrong with the game. The linear nature could have been a problem if the story wasn’t so well crafted. The enemy AI could be better, occasionally bordering on stupid, but even this doesn’t matter so much in the grand scheme of things. In all, Asobo Studios have done a great job in crafting a thoroughly engrossing game.

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The dark subject matter of A Plague Tale: Innocence will not be for everyone. However, beyond that is a story about sibling love and responsibility, and it is an incredibly compelling. As an unforgettable adventure through medieval France, A Plague Tale: Innocence really hits the mark and is well wroth checking out.




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