When I first saw the trailer for A Plague Tale: Innocence, I was immediately interested. A realistic looking game based on the Black Plague really appealed to the historian in me. This isn’t a historical era that has been explored too much in popular media so I was excited to play it. The story took a supernatural turn that I didn’t expect but it was well written nonetheless. Overall, Asobo Studio did a fantastic job with A Plague Tale. Artistically, the game is stunning. The gameplay is a good mixture of unique combat and puzzles. Then there are the rats! Rats everywhere! A Plague Tale is one of the better games I have played in a while.
A Plague Tale is loosely based on historical events but with a supernatural twist.
I don’t normally like to divulge too much of a story since I think it’s usually best to experience it firsthand. However, I was expecting a story based on historical events. A Plague Tale has some unexpected, but well written, twists as it unfolds. It takes place in France during the Second pandemic from the Fall of 1348 to early 1349. That is the extent of the historical accuracy in A Plague Tale.
I was expecting a story that was fictional, but grounded in reality. Apart from the setting, A Plague Tale is not based in reality. The protagonists are siblings Amicia the teenager, and Hugo the five year old. The siblings are running from the Inquisition after the murder of their parents. The Inquisition wants Hugo for his familial blood illness called ‘Macula’.
The Macula comes from the days of the Roman Emperor Justinian and the first Bubonic plague. It manifests itself in Hugo by causing him headaches and by turning his veins black. There is another side effect of Macula; it allows Hugo to hear the thoughts of rats and communicate with them with his mind.
Rats are Everywhere
The ability to control rats is why Hugo is hunted by the Inquisition. Under the leadership of the Grand Inquisitor are creating their own army of white rats to use for their own evil intentions. These engineered rats are fed humans to grow. The problem the Inquisition faces is that they are unable to control their rats because they can’t communicate with them. This is why they are searching for Hugo. Eventually, the Inquisition captures Hugo. The Inquisition draws some of his blood and injects into the Grand Inquisitor.
The rat swarms are so massive, they can cause earthquakes and the rats eventually form mounds that move similar to a tornado. This story arc is not what I was expecting at all. Don’t get me wrong, the writers did a great job and the story fits but I was expecting something rootedmore in historical events. If you are looking for something realistic, this may not be for you. However, if you are intrigued by the supernatural A Plague Tale would suit you well. ***End of Story Spoilers***
A Plague Tale is full of action and excitement!
The combat in A Plague Tale is a lot of fun. Amicia is equipped with a sling that she can load for all sorts of ammo that can be used for a variety of tasks. In addition to regular stones, Amicia can shoot ones that can light or extinguish braziers and torches. She also has a stone that can melt a soldiers helmet using acid. You use stones for more than head shots. You can break lanterns that guards carry making them easy targets for rat swarms. You can upgrade both the strings and basket of the sling to decrease the sound it makes when it’s used and the length of time it has to be swung to launch the projectiles. Using the sling and having a variety of ways to take down foes feels really well. I especially liked using rat swarms to devour my would be killers.
Surprisingly, you don’t fight the rats a whole lot, but they will kill anyone that they come in contact with. The rats don’t like light though. The navigation puzzles that come about through this battle of rodent and flame are fantastic and probably my favorite part of the game. There are times you need to move braziers or torches to drive away the tide of vermin. At other times, you have grab a torch and walk from one to fire pit to another. However, if you take the wrong route, your torch will burn up and you will get eaten alive. There are also some puzzles that are lanterns that you can turn to drive away the infestation. Using the lanterns to move the rats out of the way feels like using a squeegee to clean the windshield of a car. The puzzles reminded in some ways of the older Resident Evil games, so if you like those you will like these.
Fight the Plague!
Overall, Asobo Studio did a great job with A Plague Tale: Innocence. Despite the surprises I experienced with the story, I enjoyed it. It’s very well written story. The graphics are incredible and the characters look realistic. The music is also noteworthy and adds to the level of suspense quite well. The game took me around 11-12 hours to complete so it was a bit on the short end, but it is quality time. A Plague Tale is a good game, and worth playing. For good gamplay and graphics, I give A Plague Tale a 4 out of 5.