It might be hard to associate developer Asobo Studio with a horror themed adventure like A Plague Tale: Innocence considering they are also behind Microsoft’s incredibly successful reboot of Flight Simulator but if anything it shows they’re a very flexible team with a lot of talent. I’m really surprised that they haven’t been acquired yet.
A Plague Tale: Innocence is set in the 14th century where you take on the role of Amicia; daughter of a noble family who is forced to escape her home with little brother Hugo when the Inquisition arrives and kills her father. They want Hugo for an unknown reason and you need to keep him safe. At the same time a plague a rats is devastating the countryside, killing all in their path. How all this ties together is what drives the story and the challenges that the siblings to face together.
At its core the game is a third person adventure with a strong focus on narrative mixed in with puzzles and action elements. A sling is your only weapon but through new skills and upgrades (with a focus on ammunition types) it’s use can be applied in a number of different ways that go beyond taking down enemies. At first a lot of puzzles are along the lines of lighting fires to scare rats away but as you progress, new strategies emerge that can require a mix of what you’ve already learned or obtained. Each chapter in the story (there’s sixteen) takes around 15-30 minutes to complete so can be approached in small sections. I’m impressed with how well structured each section is as they could be looked on as episodes of a television series.
Presentation of the game is excellent with the real standout being the environments that are well detailed and very atmospheric. The areas you travel through may be fenced off and mostly linear in their design (ie. you can only go one way) but they are look great and there is enough variety for any repetition to be an issue. Character models are well designed but the real stars are the rats and the huge numbers of them that can fill the screen. However it is done, it’s extremely effective in portraying the flood of vermin you face and the manner in which they take down anyone is shocking to see the first time around. Worth noting that if you’re on a Series X or S quick resume works very well in getting you back into the game to continue and I used it more for this than any other game I’ve played recently.
I do have a couple of issues though. There are some action sequences that are harder because of how many enemies are thrown at you. Fighting soldiers with a sling (your only weapon) requires getting every shot off quickly and accurately and there’s little room for error. There were also areas I felt required too much precision in how enemies were dealt with – distract them with an object one meter to the left and rats get them or one meter to the right and they start chasing you. Not every player will be impacted by these but the difficulty spike (if encountered) can be discouraging.
Overall I found A Plague Tale: Innocence to be an adventure with excellent presentation and story that does well to give players plenty of reason to experience it right through to the end. Being broken down into chapters lends itself well to being able to take your time and play it at your own pace and that’s something I appreciate from games like this. 🙂
A Plague Tale: Innocence is out not for PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Switch. Played on an Xbox Series X via Game Pass.