We’re looking at the games that have defined the industry over the last seven years. Next up: damn dirty rats.
Despite being released in the latter half of this generation and there being a lot of memorable games to talk about, I don’t think I’ve played a game this generation that left quite the same mark as A Plague Tale: Innocence.
Before I played it, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but as a closet history geek, the narrative of two former noble siblings trying to survive the 14th Century diseased ridden France sold me. Then I actually played the game.
Witnessing Amicia and Hugo De Rune develop from spoiled nobles to scared and confused children to finally growing and maturing into responsible protagonists is what video game narratives are made for.
Asobo Studio takes us by the hand and guides us through the claustrophobic streets in villages full of angry French peasants looking to prosecute anyone of a higher social class, to murky fields of bodies and famine as we uncover more details of the ‘Prima Macula’.
The game is also backed by a terrific ensemble cast. To this day, I still get a slight shudder when I think of main antagonists Vitalis Bénévent and his goliath titan of a right-hand man, Sir Nicholas. I also fondly remember the companions found along the way in your adventure that help break the tone of grim despair A Plague Tale provides.
However, nothing still brings me sheer terror quite like the rats. I mentioned in my review that the reason why Resident Evil is a memorable franchise isn’t just because “zombies lol”. It was what they did with those zombies and A Plague Tail nailed a similar approach. Making rats form into small armies or them getting used to your usual bag of tricks forces you to change tactics and leave you always guessing, keeping the minimalist mechanics challenging and refreshing throughout the 20-hour experience. Not to mention the death screens if you took a step away from the light and they just, well, rat-piled you.
Another strength of A Plague Tale: Innocence lies in its core gameplay mechanics of stealth, distractions and puzzles. Though there wasn’t anything that broke the mould, that didn’t matter. What mattered was that Asobo Studio took the basic elements of each mechanic and structured it into something simple to follow that doesn’t keep the player bogged down with what to craft or how to sneak around. Everything was designed to perfection — it’s rare to review a game and not find a single fault in its gameplay.
I walked into A Plague Tale: Innocence not knowing what to expect. After playing, not only was it instantly my pick for 2019, I wanted more and I still want more. Asobo Studio crafted a simple, fun and memorable journey and those who played the game on my recommendation also talk so highly of its tale. I can understand that its short playtime could have put off some people buying it at full retail price or perhaps it’s just in their pile of shame waiting to be played. I implore you to play and complete this title before the next generation of consoles. I can only hope the rumours of a sequel are true.
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