A Plague Tale: Innocence
Developer: Asobo Studio
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Genre(s): Adventure, Puzzle, Stealth, Action
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S and Microsoft Windows)
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 06/07/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
The Plague Starts…
A Plague Tale: Innocence sees you playing as Amicia running through the plagued streets of France with your brother Hugo. Set in the 1300’s, you’re running from soldiers of the inquisition and the terrifying hordes of rats that are ravaging the streets. There are a few different themes that run throughout: at the forefront of the story you’re surrounded by death and decay which is something you will quickly get used to seeing.
A Cloud Of Rats
This is the first Switch title I’ve played that is running via The Cloud and what this means is you’ll need a constant, steady internet connection to play. To some degree this takes away the portability aspect depending on your location and whether there is a stable enough Wi-Fi option. I would expect when on public transport you might find the connection isn’t strong enough, but this isn’t something I tested myself. I did think that I would encounter a few issues regarding the stability of how the game runs; however it was a very positive experience in that sense. There were a minor handful of moments where my connection dipped and the quality of the visuals would drop but this was not a regular occurence. When you load the game you’re taken to the online server page where you can select the option to start playing. It’ll then take a moment to bring you to the title’s home screen. Apart from the internet connection that is required; I really didn’t find much difference between this and the standard method of playing.
Throughout your journey Amicia and Hugo are fighting to survive; not only are you avoiding the swarms of rats and the inquisition soldiers, but you also have to deal with Hugo’s condition which is running through his blood. There are certain moments in the game where he will get lightheaded and feel faint. Fortunately, it’ll pass, but the more time that passes the worse it’s getting and it’s this that propels Amicia to keep fighting through this dismal environment. The game is split into multiple chapters which will take you around 12-15 hours to finish. I found it a great narration tool having the different aspects of the story being split up in this way; it really gives the whole experience structure.
Keep Your Enemies Close
There’s a real mixture of gameplay styles within A Plague Tale. There are some moments where you’re running from either the soldiers or the rats, there are other moments where you’re using your stealth skills to dispatch your enemies and then you’ve got the puzzles. This mix keeps the game feeling fresh. It’s one of the best looking games I’ve played on the Switch and that is helped by playing it from The Cloud server I suspect. Along your journey, there are a few other characters you meet who quickly become attached to the cause. It can be a very isolating experience with just you and your brother so adding in additional characters was a great choice.
The amount of combat is dependent on how you play the game; whilst predominantly linear in its approach you may sometimes have the choice on whether you sneak past your enemies or give them a hit on the head with your sling and rock. Amicia has her sling as her main weapon however as you progress you do unlock other ways in which to dispatch your enemies. There are plenty of materials and ammunition to pick up within each environment and I didn’t find myself struggling in that sense. You also have a selection of collectables split into three different categories (Gifts, Curiosities and Hugo’s Herbarium) which you can find throughout each chapter. The Gifts are all related to one of the characters and there’s a description for each one you find which only adds to the connection between the player and the world of A Plague Tale. Should you miss any you are able to see where they’re located by the chapter selection from within the main menu.
A String In Time
The music is incredible and sets the tone within each chapter perfectly. It hits all the right notes both literally and figuratively. It feels very string-led and authentic to the time in which the game is set; in moments of peril it’ll build the tension and in quieter times of reflection it will mellow and soften. Music is such an immersive way to push along a story and A Plague Tale achieves this in astounding fashion.
As I mentioned previously the game is pretty linear for the most part. There are certain areas that will provide you with optional routes with one usually leading to a collectible. The only downside I found with this was that it wasn’t always obvious which way would progress the story and which would lead you to a collectible. It lead to moments of frustration having picked one route only to find out you couldn’t go back to try the other. There are always materials littered around the environments and these will help you upgrade your equipment. Pick up everything; it’ll come in handy once you’ve found the workbenches which enable you to enhance things such as your sling, ammunition capacities and alchemy amongst other things.
Will You Fight Against The Inquisition?
Given the games higher age rating you can understand there are some very tragic moments and scenes of distress. I found myself feeling propelled to continue the story to find out how things would wrap up for Amicia, Hugo and their accomplices. The few puzzles the game invites you to solve are environmental in nature and rest within the realm of being taxing enough to provide a challenge but not too much so to make them frustratingly difficult.
A Plague Tale is a fantastic game from start to finish; with harrowing scenery and an incredible musical score, I can’t rate it enough. The one downside of running via The Cloud is that it could take away the portability aspect of the Nintendo Switch, however, if you have a stable and steady internet connection you shouldn’t run into any issues. A great cast of characters and gorgeous visuals with a mix of gameplay styles to keep the game from feeling stale well into its seventeenth chapter. I’m now patiently waiting for the sequel to find out where Asobo Studios will take us next!
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
A Plague Tale: Innocence is available now and can be purchased from the Nintendo eShop.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.