I don't really have a reason for why it took me so long to get around to playing this game, but I can't believe it did.
I don't really have a reason for why it took me so long to get around to playing this game, especially considering how positively everyone who has played it talks about it. But, regardless, it has taken me years to finally start this adventure, and after reaching its conclusion, I can't believe it did. Because A Plague Tale: Innocence is a marvel of storytelling. This title from Asobo Studio features a narrative that is gripping, emotionally-complex, filled with danger and loss, and is sprinkled with just enough horror and fear that it has a tense atmosphere a lot of the time. And this is all bolstered by the great performances of the leading protagonist duo of Amicia and Hugo, a brother and sister pairing who are asked to navigate a world of despair and danger all while evading hostile Inquisition soldiers.
Essentially, if you were curious about how The Last of Us would look, if it was set in 14th Century France and features unstoppable swarms of rats as the terrifying inhuman threat instead of infected zombie-like beings, then this is that very game. For the most part, you play as Amicia and have to lead your younger brother Hugo to safety through a variety of unique settings and situations, be that levels packed with soldiers that are after Hugo for his supernatural rat-controlling powers, or instead simply through nests of thousands and thousands of these very flesh-eating rats. Needless to say, the majority of the time, you'll be on the edge of your seat as you navigate every unique threat.
The enemies are offered up in such a way where you have the ability and skill to eliminate them if need be - thanks to Amicia's powerful sling - but are also handled in such a way where you can be quickly overwhelmed and overrun if you decide to make too much trouble. Hence, the element of stealth is evermore important and crucial to use to your advantage here, especially when dealing with enemies that are protected with thick plates of armour, or are in environments that rumble with the scurrying of thousands of nearby deadly rat hordes.
This is an ad:
It is a design style that can be a little slow and numbing at times, simply because you have to put so much effort and focus on ensuring your companion also survives, meaning you can't just one-man army your way to the end goal. And as your companion is a very young boy who is completely unaware of the way that life outside his bedroom operates, it often feels like you spend your time putting out fires rather than being the decision-making leading force. Which again, is similar to the way that the original The Last of Us felt when looking at the dynamic between Joel and young Ellie.
But for me, the gameplay itself isn't what made A Plague Tale: Innocence such a memorable and enjoyable experience. No. It was the storyline and the incredibly grim tale that it served up. At very few intervals throughout the game do you genuinely feel like everything is going well for Amicia and Hugo, rather as the story evolves you almost begin to lose hope for the duo, and just assume that this will be a tale that ends in sadness. It's this darker tone that kept me thoroughly enthralled and made me want to keep playing chapter after chapter, just so I could discover what happened next for the siblings.
This is an ad:
In fact, I found myself so entertained by A Plague Tale: Innocence as an experience, that A Plague Tale: Requiem, the upcoming sequel, has quickly skyrocketed to near the top of my most anticipated games set to launch in 2022. I can't wait to see what the future holds for Amicia and Hugo, and likewise I'm even more excited to see how the pair fare as older and a little wiser individuals. Matching this up with the fact that the sequel is a true new-gen game (it's not coming to PS4 and Xbox One), I'm hoping to see Asobo Studio really go over the top with its visuals and level design, all to serve up a cinematic experience that takes what makes Innocence brilliant and doubles-down on it.
If you haven't already had the chance to check out A Plague Tale: Innocence, I'd highly recommend doing so before Requiem lands in October this year. Considering you can beat Innocence in around ten hours, with a good amount of exploring baked into that time frame, and taking into account that the game is available on Game Pass (for PC and console) and that the sequel will be available on the service on day one as well, I'd say there's absolutely no reason not to jump in if you're looking for a truly fulfilling and entertaining way to spend a weekend. Believe me, it'll be worth it.