From the moment I first saw A Plague Tale: Innocence, I knew that Asobo Studio was working on something unique. What I didn’t know was just how intricate of a game they were really going to make. After playing through a game based in the awful days of the black plague and went through the amazing journey they have laid out, I have to say that this is a game that I will never forget.
Amicia de Rune comes home from a day out hunting with her father and checks on her sick brother, Hugo de Rune. During this visit, everything changed as the Inquisition arrived demanding to take Hugo. In refusal to give him up, they killed the father and forced the brother and sister duo to make a hastily escape. Unsure what it is the Inquisition wants with Hugo, Amicia sets out on a journey to get him to the doctor to continue aiding in his disease as their mother holds off the soldiers slaying anyone that gets in their way. Even though they are young, they must now face the dangers of disease, rats, and soldiers together as the find safety and healing.
Playing as the big sister that has to protect her brother, there is a lot of escorting in the game. Along with escorting Hugo, you will make a few AI companions along your journey which will accompany you through most of the game. I have to say that their AI system should be marked as the gold standard for how AI’s should interact with the player because it was rare that the error or fault laid upon them. Staying close, listening to my commands, and never actually getting in the way, not to mention they actual stop moving or walk around objects and the player instead of just running in place since they’re “stuck,” was a relief when it came to my concerns on guiding my little brother through the madness of the 14th century.
Your main weapon is a sling which will be used for pretty much everything. As it is a stealth game, you can also simply throw the various items that you can use in your sling so that you don’t make as much noise, but this lessens your range. This weapon was used to hurl rocks at enemies and throw various alchemy made tools such as fire starter and extinguishers.
Along with the sling tools options you got from your tools wheel, you would learn a few other things that you didn’t need your sling for. This was the rat killing explosive and the knock out dust for the Inquisition. These two tools could be used manually or as a get-out card when attacked. If you have one of these handy and a guard attacks you or the rats surround you, the game gives you a quick option to use it in order to escape your fate. You can only hold one of each at a time, so make sure you are stocked to replenish your tools after use.
There is heavy use of the sling when it came to routing puzzles. You would often need to hurl a rock at a chain to knock down something that is on fire or meat in order to proceed further. You could also hurl the fire starter and extinguisher options in order to clear a path that is out of reach for your throwing option. This tool let them get creative with how they set up the routing puzzles and they took full advantage as you will need to look up and around you to find what it is you need to interact with. It isn’t always obvious and some sections require quicker thinking than others, so be ready for anything.
As mentioned before, there is a lot of stealth in this game. Your movement type matters when around the enemy, so make sure to use your crouch, walk, and run appropriately so you don’t get caught. There are flower beds and tall grass in multiple places to help you continue forward, but the best tools to continue forward is those that distract the enemy. Throwing pots or rocks at specific items will cause a guard to go toward the sound. Most of the time this will let them turn their back on you and give you plenty of room, but don’t be afraid to get close because that is exactly what you will have to do more than once.
Graphics and Sounds
Everything about the game had a beautiful design to it and their attention to detail was everywhere. They designed an environment that related to the 14th century and really kept you inside of the reality that the de Rune’s were facing.
The music choice was spot on as they presented a dark orchestra-style sound in all parts of the game, varying in lighter tones for the better moments and heavy tones for the darker ones. The sound effects were well placed and properly fitting as well. One of my concerns going in was that the rats might be obnoxious since there were so many of them and in so many locations, but they managed to present them without an intrusive amount of noise even when in the middle of a horde.
There are a few collectibles that you can find throughout the game that a completionist would want to gather. If you miss any along the way, when you go to the chapter select screen on the main menu it lists how many of each type of collectible you gathered which lets you know how many you still have left to find in each section of the game.
Based on the trophy list, there appear to be a few different paths and choices that could be made along the way as well. Someone who would want to see all cutscenes and aspects of the game would have to play through a few of the chapters again in order to see what different the other paths have to the straight forward one.
What Could Be Better
Some times the dialogue would feel a bit rushed and nearly over lapping. This may have been meant to come off as over-excitement in the characters, but it didn’t appear that way and just sounded like some of the queue’s were being triggered a bit early.
There were a few graphical glitches, but the only glitches that are worth noting are the ones related to the AI characters. It didn’t happen often, but there were a couple moments where the AI either froze or got stuck in a loop which prevented me from progressing. Luckily, the times that this happened I was able to fix it by either re-triggering what they did before freezing or just pushing them out of a specific spot they were stuck in, so it didn’t cause any restarts, but still frustrating. - I would like to add here that with how often you had an AI around, only running into these kinds of issues a total of three times in my initial playthrough is nothing short of impressive.
A Plague Tale: Innocence was by far one of the best games I have played and truly gave me a new experience to remember. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end! I look forward to seeing more games from Asobo Studio continuing the series. This was a wonderfully made piece of historic fiction that holds few flaws and the weirdest final boss fight. Simply an unforgettable experience.