After a couple of months spent on enormous games (Kingdom Come and then Mass Effect, reviews of which are in the works) I really needed a break from giant titles. A Plague Tale was the free game of the month and clocking in at around 15 hours, it was just what the doctor order.
A Plague Tale tells the story of Amicia De Rune, and her brother, Hugo. The game takes place in France, around 1348-49, during the Hundred Years’ War.
The French Inquisition troops arrive at the De Rune estate with the intention of taking Hugo away. Amicia and Hugo manage to escape and the adventure begins.
Over the course of the game, you get to watch the relationship between the brother and sister develop as they deal with the Inquisition, hordes of rats, wary villagers and endless other dangers.
They make some new friends along the way and overcome numerous obstacles on their way to try and end the plague. It is a genuinely touching and heart warming story, focusing on the bonds formed between the children as they navigate the adversity and horror of a war torn world.
The characters are brought to life in thanks to some fantastic voice acting, particularly from Charlotte McBurney, who played the lead role of Amicia. Her performance was excellent and I hope to hear her voice grace more video games in the future. I cannot help but walk around the house, repeatedly saying “Li-on”. Logan Hannan also did an outstanding job as her younger brother, Hugo.
The game is 17 chapters in length and for the most part was perfect. The first 15 chapters are incredibly well paced and progress along seamlessly. At one point, I remember commenting that I couldn’t believe this was the same game and the same Amicia from Chapter 1.
Everything moved at such a great pace, from the character development to the gameplay itself. Nothing felt rushed. Nothing was dragged out or boring. It was just seamless progression.
As time went on, the game went from being stealth driven (when it was all new to the children and combat was scary), to being focused on exploration (as the children grew braver), to finally being more focussed on combat and different ways to kill your enemies (as the children grew more ruthless, losing their “innocence” as the title suggests).
I really enjoyed the seamless blending of combat and stealth in Chapter 6, as Amicia and her friends escaped from an enemy camp. Mellie proposed that we try and escape stealthily, but being the psychopath I am, I wanted to try and kill as many guards out on the way as I could. Turns out, that was all of them.
Armed with nothing but a slingshot, Amicia and I wreaked havoc on that camp, picking off soldiers, one by one, hiding in the shadows. The perfect soldier. I loved that chapter. I loved the high stakes and tension that the combat provided. There was no room for error. You are a child with a slingshot, going up against armed soldiers. If your first shot misses, you don’t get a second.
Chapter 15 felt like the perfect ending spot for the game. The surviving children had come a long way together and had formed a home at the ruins of a castle. Unfortunately, the plague rats and the Inquisition soon reached them and took their home away. A couple of the children died in the escape attempts.
The remaining children vowed that they would make the Inquisition suffer for their wrongdoings. They gathered together in the rain, put their hands together and promised that they were all in this until death. That felt like the perfect moment to end the game.
Instead, we had 2 more chapters that saw the children defeat the inquisition and end the plague. In this time, the group also split up and went their seperate ways. The last 2 chapters moved so quickly and were focused to heavily on combat that it felt unbelievable. Chapters 16 and 17 left a bad taste in my mouth, after an otherwise fantastic game.
During this game, I was very eager to replay it, but ultimately decided against it. I started to play it again, but was soon bored. I think what annoyed was a lack of increased difficulty for a second play through and the lack of a new game plus option.
Your progression on collectibles carried over, but that was all. I didn’t get to use any of my materials or upgraded weaponry that I worked for along the first play through. I was really excited to tackle the game again with my new upgrades and was very disappointed when I found out I couldn’t.
I did play this game on PS5, but never played it on PS4, so I can’t compare the difference. I can say that I did notice that the developers utilised both the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, although I can’t say I always understood why.
At some points, I could feel the controller lightly vibrating, almost as if it was trying to tap my hand for attention. I assume this was supposed to replicate the footsteps of the rats, but I found it didn’t connect to the game.
I also noticed that whenever I tried springing, the adaptive trigger would lock up and require more effort to use. I understand that sprinting requires more effort than walking, but this was another time that the feature didn’t translate to the game. Nice try though!
Ultimately, I really loved this game. I wished the last 2 chapters didn’t exist and I long for a new game plus. I would love to tackle Chapter 6 again with Amicia’s upgraded arsenal. I can highly recommend checking this game out. It doesn’t provide much of a challenge, but the story is excellent, as is the voice acting. I’d happily give this an 8/10.
A Plague Tale : Requiem is set to release sometime in 2022, continuing the story of the De Rune’s. I cannot wait. “Li-on!”