Game: The Plague tales: Innocence
Developer: Asobo studios
Platform (AVAILABLE on): xbox one (PS4, PC)
The Plague Tales will send goosebumps down your spine, keep you on your toes and even the odd tear.
The Plague Tales: Innocence follows Amecia and Hugo De Rune traversing through the plague-ridden French countryside in 1348. The De Rune children are on the run from the Inquisition, who have murdered their family and are now looking to capture Hugo for reasons unknown. The Plague Tales offers more than your typical hack and slash medieval blood fest – A strongly narrative-driven game which combines stealth, puzzles and the occasional combat. Did I mention the rats? So many rats.
Things seem off to bright start, as Amecia and her father go to hunt for a glorious feast with their dog, Lion. But things turn sour very quick and the intro lets you know what your in for. Once they return to their home, the De Rune estate is attacked by the Inquisition looking for Hugo, who has been sheltered all of his life and barely knows Amecia.
The introduction does the usual showing of responsibility not only in game play but Amecia’s responsibilities to Hugo. He is kept close at all times, unless absolute necessarily and that he must be shielded from all the violence that is ahead. Amecia is equipped with a slingshot and a incredibly strong wit for a teenager. The slingshot is multi-purpose and can be used to distract guards or kill them with a blow to the head. Whilst Hugo’s small stature allows him to fit through small gaps to help Amecia open doors.
Soon they escape the De Rune estate and find themselves in a small town, where Amecia’s patience and tolerance is put to the test. This is where I first realised how human the siblings relationship was. Amecia loses her head with Hugo after he constantly asks a number of questions, how she deals with this and Hugo’s questions is where a lot of the character growth in this game comes from. She is a child herself and has a huge amount of responsibility on her hands.
However, this huge amount of responsibility isn’t transferred to the player. Although the game and it mechanics are fun, the game isn’t that challenging. The introduction of course, tells you what to do, but this continues into the story. You are introduced to companions who literally tell you what to do and the materials to create the appropriate ammo appear in abundance at the convenient time. So a lot of the time that player isn’t left to decide what the best option forward is.
Crafting is another system that makes the game easier as it goes on. The slingshot you use originally makes noise, you can design an upgrade that will reduce noise. Whilst you can also increase capacity of carrying crafting materials etc. There are a number of different bombs that Amecia can create to aid in distracting and killing guards and dealing with the rat swarms. However, you meet a lot of the different types of enemies early and you learn how to deal with them very quickly. The game becomes more about knowing your timing with dealing with enemies the further it progresses.
During the second chapter, Amecia takes her first life and there is a lot of regret and there’s even where she asks for forgiveness at a nearby church. However, in the later game there seems little regret for future lives taken, with Amecia stating “She would do it again for him [Hugo]”. I understand the growth in character as she cares more for Hugo, but the game actually offers very little other ways forward without killing. She basically goes from a sweet innocent teenager to mass murderer in a case of several months.
As the game progresses you meet a number of different companions, who help you through your journey. They offer a unique set of skills and help you with puzzles. I thought Hugo and Amecia’s relationship would have been put to the test in-game. However, Hugo actually is left at your new home for a large part and it is this rag-tag group you will work with. Their relationships with the De Rune children often feel rushed compared to the siblings but the voice acting is next to none and really brings the game to life.
The stealth focused gameplay is interrupted by three boss fights, two of which I really disliked. The first serving as a more detailed slingshot tutorial and the last which I just thought was cringe worthy and irritating. It gave a very good game a bit of a sour ending for me. The second however I felt was really fun and engaging, was the one time my skill of timing was put it’s limits. Despite these the linear story was brilliant offering a number of twist and turns that keep you on your toes.
A brilliant game and story that has a few quirks and is basically let down by the lack of challenge and some pacing issues. But overall, I loved the game and I’m sure you guys will, it was a lot of fun and the story will keep you on your toes. Maybe even bring in a tear or two. It’s a solid 8 out of 10 for me.