Plague Tale: Innocence was released in 2019 as an unassuming mid-budget game. Considering it was created by a smaller studio called Asobo, the title surprised me with its original gameplay. I was also intrigued by the great mechanics of avoiding hundreds of rats and the likable characters led by siblings Amici and Hugo.
The second part starts half a year after the first. Lucas, Amicia, Hugo and their mother try to find a new place to live where they can cure Hugo's illness. In fact, he has a mysterious macula in his blood that allows him to control rats. These have multiplied all over France, leaving only plague and thousands of dead in their wake.
However, nobody can help Hugo and his deteriorating physical, but especially psychological, condition only helps the rats, who reproduce extremely fast. Can Amicia as the main character save her brother and a lot of innocent people at the same time?
This is what you will find out in an emotional and excellently crafted story, which may even bring a tear to your eye at the end. The screenwriters of the sequel have squeezed the most out of the story and used the characters we have grown to love to do just that. At the same time, they also used their relationships to build emotional connections, thrilling moments full of pain, fear and love.
Fantastic script full of touching moments
The creators have designed the game in a familiar style, but that doesn't bother them at all as they have done it in a classy way. To label it cliché would be an insult to the quality of the script, which tries to make the story as predictable as possible. Even by the time you understand where it's all going to go, you won't feel like it was predictable. Rather, you're weighed down by the weight of the decisions the characters have to make, which works great in terms of emotion as well.
The heartbreaking story is aided by the actors who lend their voices to the characters, and they do it remarkably well. A shout out must go to Charlotte McBurnley, her performance will undoubtedly be rewarded with at least a nomination at the prestigious The Game Awards.
She managed to portray the character's psychological problems, but also all her joyful cries or doubts that could be felt in her voice. She makes Amicia one of the most believable characters in gaming history. I got this impression especially in the moments when circumstances push her down and she feels like she's "drowning" despite her unyielding determination.
The performance of the actress is so good that it doesn't "follow" the other aspects that complete the overall character. Character animation and facial muscle movement, as well as overall facial expressions and eye processing hinder her acting performance. I can't remember any modern play where the visuals lag so far behind the acting.
Plague Tale: Requiem doesn't look bad, quite the opposite. It's an extremely detailed video game world with a surprisingly large number of unique locations. Over the course of 17 chapters, you'll pass through a variety of different levels made up of wide plains, meadows, forts, towns and islands. This world is fun to look at, but to say it's in the same boat as the biggest games of the year in terms of "graphics" would be a lie.
However, it doesn't bother me at all, because we have to remember that Asobo is an independent studio and there aren't thousands of developers working on the game, as is the case with big AAA productions. We can't expect the same quality as in projects from Naughty Dog (The Last of Us) or Rockstar Games (Red Dead Redemption 2).
Considering the vastness of the game (it will take you about 15-18 hours to play through, which is quite a bit more than in the first game), it's a small miracle that the developers managed to release it only 3 years after the first game. Games take a very long time to produce nowadays, and Asobo Studio has also released another large and complex game - Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Technical bugs make playing uncomfortable
The game also has some flaws, a few technical bugs that cause you to not be able to continue and have to restart the chapter or section from the last checkpoint. This has happened to me several times, but I hope that patches will fix it. Apart from the aforementioned mediocre character animations and facial expressions in the story videos (cutscenes), the game's visuals don't fall short in anything else.
On the contrary, the overall level of graphic design is above average. The quality of the textures, the detail of the buildings and objects in the surroundings or the beautiful natural phenomena sometimes give you the impression that you are looking at a true "next gen" game.
Obstructions in levels can get in the way, preventing you from moving your character smoothly. As an example, there is a 20 centimetre high curb that Amicia can't cross and has to go around it. This is an outdated level design that should no longer be found in modern games. You'll notice more minor flaws like this. But what will probably bother you the most is that you'll spend about half of the game hand-in-hand with Amicia's brother Hugo.
I understand that it's an important part of the story and that it makes us more aware of how strong and important a relationship these siblings have, but in terms of gameplay it's annoying. As a result, character movements are occasionally jerky, and you can constantly feel Hugo's weight on the controller, which makes Amicia not move as quickly and nimbly as we'd like.
The developers for the PS5 console have also taken advantage of the Dualsense controller. The latter vibrates strongly whenever the rats spawn, and you can also feel the resistance during physically demanding character movements or other moments. It's nothing groundbreaking, but the implementation of the Dualsense controller's features definitely makes the gameplay experience more enjoyable.
The nimbleness of the character affects the fluidity of the imagery. Even before the first patch, the developers were targeting 60 frames per second. However, the game struggled with this and now seems to be running more like 30 frames per second. However, the frequency often jumps, especially in scenes with fire, larger number of rats or during fights.
The frame rate drops precipitously down and at times it even creates an annoying tearing of the image. (screen tearing). The developers improved it a bit with a patch before the release, but the game is far from perfect technically. It's best to wait for an analysis from the tech experts at Digital Foundry.
I can't imagine how the game would "run" on old consoles. Plague Tale: Requiem is only available on PC and current PS5 and Xbox X/S Series consoles. Aside from the advanced visuals, this is also due to the fact that there are sometimes thousands of rats moving around the set.
Simulating their movement and behavior would be something that the outdated hardware of the last generation of consoles couldn't handle. So if you enjoyed the sequences from the first game where you escaped from hordes of rats, prepare for the sequel to be even more spectacular in that regard.
Gameplay and combat
The developers also tried to make the gameplay and battles more spectacular, but they didn't succeed very well. Amicia has exactly the same weapons at her disposal in the second game, only with new attack methods. However, if you've played the game for more than 15 hours, you'll be feeling the limited selection of attacks uncomfortably by the end.
Swinging a slingshot to kill enemies without a helmet (you have to kill those wearing a helmet in a slightly more sneaky way) never tired me out. However, it would definitely help gameplay variation if Amicia had more ways to fight battles and combat stronger soldiers.
In addition to the slingshot, Amicia has a number of alchemical tools at her disposal, which perfectly fulfill the task of progressing through the game, which is blocked by various obstacles. As in the first part, in the second part you will be able to solve several fun puzzles logically. These are related to either the sequential use of the tools at your disposal or the intelligent use of unconventional gadgets.
Designing functional puzzles and obstacles that are not stereotypical even after 15 hours is extremely challenging. However, the creators of this game have done it to a tee, and sometimes you even get stuck somewhere before you figure out what you need to do.
The design of each level is therefore of a high standard and it is clear that the creators have thought about them for a long time. Particularly surprising is the number of levels or how they change spectacularly during the game and what challenges they offer. In addition, the developers have brilliantly managed to divide the action, quieter and adventure segments of the gameplay and story so that nothing ever bores you.
The pace of the game does not falter even after 18 long hours. There are times when you think the game might be over, but each time the developers surprise you with a twist or a new location that makes perfect sense within the story. Since I enjoyed the game so much, it didn't bother me, but there will definitely be some players who find this kind of pacing distracting.
Plague Tale: Requiem is not a perfect game. While I don't blame the creators, as they don't have the resources of the big studios, the quality of their story videos and animation fall short of the amazing acting performances, which somewhat spoils the impression. I also missed the expanded options in battles and was occasionally annoyed by technical bugs, for which I often had to restart the game.
However, there are many more positives than negatives and I can't help feeling that the developers have improved almost everything in the sequel. I couldn't tear myself away from Plague Tale: Requiem and consider it one of the best games of the year. If it had been made by a big studio, I would have been more rigorous. However, since Asobo is a smaller studio and they released the game in "record time", I can turn a blind eye. That's why I'm giving it a nine out of ten.
About the Creator
Passionate learner, reader, and free time poetry lover. My second hobby is writing all kind of informative articles. On all that I am morning person and coffee lover. I am interested in too many things, maybe even too much for my own good.