A Plague Tale Innocence: Review

Welcome all to our review of A Plague Tale Innocence.

First and foremost a big thank you to the people at Focus Home Interactive for allowing us to play through and give you our thoughts. My playthrough was on an Xbox One S.

From the opening scenes you are given a glimpse at what will ultimately be an emotional ride through Middle Ages France during the Hundred Years war and the cursed Black Plague.
You're introduced to Amicia de Rune and her father which serves as a tutorial but also an early insight into the dynamic of the de Rune family. Amicia is the elder of two siblings with her brother Hugo being shut in the house by their mother as she tries to cure some ailment. Amicia and Hugo don’t really know each other due to this ailment so when she is first asked to keep an eye on him there is a bit of awkwardness towards each other.

A Plague Tale Innocence has this overhanging feeling of foreboding very early on and you quickly find out why, once the Inquisition arrives at the doors of the noble French family’s estate. They are after your brother.
It is now up to Amicia to protect and guide Hugo as they are suddenly and violently thrust into a hellish warzone. Of course, the Inquisition isn’t the only danger. The Black Plague has decimated the French population with the majority of people falling victim to it or the sea of infected rats that plague your every step.

The rats in Innocence are by far the most stress inducing presence. Their constant screeching and scratching as they stay just out of the reach of the light has an unnerving feel to it. The way they burst out of walls, crevice’s and the ground to ravage unsuspecting victims till they are just skin and bones is incredibly grotesque and a site that causes you to think much harder before putting Amicia or Hugo in harms way.

The rats are not the only enemy in Innocence. You have the brutish guards of the Inquisition to deal with, who are way to eager to swing their sword at you in order to capture Hugo. Luckily for all their brutality they are pretty simple. They are easily distracted by sound, be it a rock bouncing off an object or the smashing of a pot they will go and investigate giving you room to move.
The mechanics of A Plague Tale Innocence are pretty straight forward. It is best described as a survival, stealth game, but at times can look like an elaborate escort mission. Puzzles to move forward can feel a little repetitive but do have some refreshing changes as more options become available later in the game only to briefly loose themselves towards the end as there is more trial and error than up front problem solving.

Don’t let the idea of the young protagonists fool you, Plague Tale is brutal. It gave me a sense of urgency that never really goes away and more than once pulled on the heart strings. The growth of the main characters Amicia and Hugo tells a story of true family and the love between siblings. What started off as me joking that we should just let them have the boy turned into a sense of real connection between the two so that in parts where they are separated you almost miss him. The two hold hands throughout the game and if you get too far away from Hugo he will yell and cry for you as a child does. It really is a beautiful story of survival and growth of those family bonds set against such a grim and somewhat disturbing tone.

Amicia herself grows and has to struggle with suddenly being thrust into this new role being the sole protector of her little brother. This internal struggle is never more apparent than the first time Amicia has to kill, she never wants too, she has too. It is a savage moment that she feels to her core and even takes a moment to prey for forgiveness. Amicia’s trusty sling is upgradeable and the way you use it to overcome enemies both human and rats’ changes throughout your story, one in particular was confronting for not only Amicia but also me.

While Amicia is definitely the heroine in this Hugo is no passive side kick. He is helpful at reaching certain areas and gaining access to locked doors by being sent through narrow openings that Amicia cannot fit. He also provides some touching moments between the siblings that will bring a smile in an other wise bleak surrounding.

A Plague Tale Innocence is a horrific visualisation of a dark and violent time in our history, tied together with a truly touching story that does well to highlight the struggles faced. It is full of edge of your seat moments without trivialising the setting. While the puzzles can feel a little repetitive the story and journey here is where A Plague Tale Innocence really shines.

A Plague Tale Innocence is out now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.


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