A Plague Tale: Innocence is out now on PS5 and Xbox Series S/X to join to the existing verisons out there, and when this first came out, I said it does for rats what the Indiana Jones movies did for snakes – they’re EVERYWHERE!
In the last two years, I’ve had a rodent situation of my own where just one sneaked in through a collapsed vent for the tumble dryer, ignored the traps I put down – or managed to escape them – and it was only when I went with the nuclear option of putting down some spare warfarin tablets, that I got a result! I’d read how they feast on the bait over a few nights, and then take several days to die…
In my case, he ate one 3mg tablet, then sneaked back under some floorboards and died, all within 24 hours… two weeks later, the extreme honk from the lounge eventually disappeared. That was incredibly unpleasant, especially during the height of summer. It smelled as if I’d cooked about ten Chicken Chow Mein ready meals from Morrisons, and shoved them under the floorboards.
But back to this, and I love this as much as I did before, even more so now I can play it in 4K, but it can be a bit of a pain at times when the way to kill a big baddie involves learning a series of patterns and carrying them out without fail.
When I first heard of this title back in 2019, this was 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.
And now, in 4K, it’s even more spellbinding.
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 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 which A Plague Tale: Innocence 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.
Playing through this game in full again, it’s still as incredible as you solve various puzzles to get past certain sections of the chapters. I did get a bit of frustration on a couple of occasions, with regards to puzzles in the castle where you declare ‘home’ from chapter 8, as these involving hundreds of rats invading, while having to light braziers (things that hold fire, NOT BRAS!) and push them back and forth, clockwise and counter-clockwise, in order to drive the rodents away.
One annoying thing still remains – and this is primarily because I like to record my gameplay – 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.
A Plague Tale: Innocence was the most beautiful game I’ve played in 2019, and now we’re a few years away from The Last Of Us Part 3 (2027 is my guess), I expect this will be the same for 2021. A sequel, A Plague Tale: Requiem, is due next year and I can’t wait for that.
But back to this, and 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.
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 can still barely fault this. Now, stop reading this. Just watch the videos and get your money ready!
At the time of posting this review, while I have finished the game, I am releasing the videos on a daily basis on the above playlist, so subscribe and check back daily for more!
Also available is the CD soundtrack.
- 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.