In addition, this is one of those few games where I saw the trailer and my jaw dropped, because the graphics are so gorgeous that I really should just tell you to stop reading this and watch the video instead, since there’s so much incredible detail in there, right down to the light reflecting through the leaves on the trees onto Amicia’s back, which is demonstrated brilliantly even in the first few minutes. Then know that when playing the game, it looks even better, since here, you’re looking at Youtube’s compressed processing.
By contrast, think back to the E3 demo for Sony’s Spider-man game, and how the actual finished version had a graphics downgrade… remember that? Well, try imagining if the graphics looked even BETTER than you expected!!! THAT is A Plague Tale: Innocence.
Without giving spoilers, I can say that there’s a situation, early on, which takes you – as the young girl, Amicia – and younger brother Hugo (above) away from the family home. You know there’s something up with him, but you don’t know exactly what, and he doesn’t seem to know himself, since at times, it just looks like he’s getting a migraine.
But the game is set during the phase of the Hundred Years’ War, and the Black Death, so you know he’s not developed it after spending 20 minutes on hold trying to get through to a call centre, only to have the phone hung up as soon as he gets through…
If there’s a game this reminds me of, it’s The Last Of Us. It’s not got zombies and it’s not riding on its coat-tails, but what it does have is a story and characters with which you quickly get emotionally invested. There are tragedies that befall Amicia and Hugo, whilst also seeing others tag along for parts of the ride with them, and as it drip-feeds the storyline bit by bit, I just wanted to get to know more and more of their story.
At the point where I’m up to, I’ve not yet reached the end, and will continue until I do – as well as continuing to upload footage of it until then – but each of the 17 chapters takes anything up to an hour to wind your way through (dying a lot along the way) and once I’ve captured that footage, I want to check it and allow it to render and then upload. The problem is that while you can replay previously completed chapters in the game as you go along, doing so will overwrite where you’ve really got up to, so you have to still take it one chapter at a time. That’s my understanding, anyway, and I certainly don’t want to replay an earlier one from a few chapters back before I’ve completed it.
This is far from the first game to do this, but it is just as unnecessary.
If you’re concerned about whether the game has QTEs (Quick-time Events – where you have to press a button to carry out a specific action at the right moment), the first man I had to kill was rather a bastard, and I did have to do one QTE to dodge him, but after that, it was pretty cool as a fight, and these are very few and far between.
A Plague Tale: Innocence is the most beautiful game I’ve played all year, and I can’t see any other beating it. Sure, Dangerous Driving is exceptionally gorgeous, but it’s like comparing a great drama to a Fast and Furious movie. The lighting effects are gorgeous, there’s an exceptional soundtrack which beefs up as events kick off, but it does so in a complementary manner and doesn’t overwhelm the proceedings.
Amicia and Hugo are as tightly bound as Joel and Ellie, also relying upon each other at times. You’ll begin with a sling – firing rocks at anyone who needs a telling, before moving on to other things like crafting an Ignifer in order to light embers (setting fire to a torch, in plain English) – since the light scares away the deadly, flesh-eating rats, so this is also a Last Of Us similarity and in the way I’ve been wanting to play more of since that game first came out in 2013. In addition, you’ll also come across a crafting table where you can improve your sling, and so on.
Are there any downsides to this? Nothing that can’t be overcome. The game is rather a CPU hog, in that if I have to go back to the desktop for anything during a game, e.g. I always forget to disable alerts on Digiguide and don’t need a reminder popping up about a programme while I’m in full swing with a game, knackering the recording of the footage. Once I get back to the game, all is fine, so I just have to remember to be organised 😉
If you need any further convincing about how this looks and plays, the movement is very fluid, even when there’s two of you as Amicia has Hugo by the hand. Plus, those rats… they’re fucking insanely amazing! If you only watch a few seconds of my videos, even just the start of the first one shows the rats racing around in the dark.
Overall, I cannot fault this. I know I’m banging on about this, but it really is ‘The Last Of Us‘ for 2019 in terms of gameplay and storytelling!
And until Sony bring us that sequel (which certainly won’t come before the release of the Playstation 5), A Plague Tale: Innocence is a slam dunk.
Stop reading this. Just watch the videos and get your money ready!
- Developer: Asobo Studio
- Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
- Players: single player
- Languages: English
- Subtitles: English
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.