A Plague Tale: Innocence Xbox One X Review

August 17, 2020 by  
Filed under Xbox One, Reviews & Features

Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Developer: Asobo Studio  Genre: Action Adventure/Stealth

Players: 1  Age Rating: 18+  Other console/handheld formats: PS4

Driven by a strong cast of characters and an engaging story, it was nice to discover that A Plague Tale: Innocence is also a very playable game. It’s also a game that successfully brings some very different themes together, and is a surprise in more ways than one. 

The strength of the narrative is thanks to its believable personalities in Amicia and Hugo De Rune, a young French sibling duo living in 14th century France. As the game begins, the brother and sister don’t know each other very well, with Amicia not seeing her brother and her mother very often due to the young boy suffering from a mysterious illness, although she is closer to her father and is in his company right at the start of the game. As dark events unfold, Amicia and Hugo are brought together as they fight for survival in a world of disease, rats, alchemy, and death. The cast keeps growing larger as you progress through the story, and the stellar voice acting also helps keep things believable. 

One of the things that instantly leapt out at me is the dark beauty of the visuals, which really fits with the tone of the game. While the game begins in a sunny forest environment, the changing in tone is soon felt in both the atmosphere as well as the look of the game. Everything from its environments of despair to its character models are rich in detail, and while there are some noticeable corner cutting at times, this is a gorgeous game that is powered by the developer’s very own engine. 

Some of the imagery is really quite horrific.

10-12 hours in length, A Plague Tale: Innocence is largely a stealth game, although it also contains puzzles as well as horror elements, and guess what? It actually all works really well, mostly. While the stealth is of the simple variety and offers few real surprises, it’s always fun to best the guards by distracting them by making use of Amicia’s slingshot to hit metal objects, and then sneaking past them as they investigate the source of the noise. Enemies can also be killed with a rock fired from the slingshot, just as long as they aren’t wearing a helmet, and you’ll be given other methods of dealing with them as the game progresses. 

Then there’s Hugo. As his big sister, your job is to keep him from harm as well as to keep him calm during even the most testing of situations. Holding his hand may make the game sound like a large and annoying escort mission, although this really isn’t the case at all. Keeping him close by simply stops him from panicking and alerting enemies in the vicinity. Hugo can also be commanded to squeeze through smaller gaps that Amicia cannot fit through, and you’ll also be joined by other companions throughout the game, all of whom have their own unique and helpful abilities.  

As for those dirty rats that I have so far mentioned so little about, there can be as many as 5000 of these on the screen, which adds even more goodness to the splendid visuals, even if the rodents glitch in weird and amusing ways from time to time. These pests play a major part in the game, and dealing with them requires the use of light, forcing them to scurry away towards the dark corners of the Medieval environments. Like the human enemies, you’ll also receive other ways to deal with the rats, and they can even be weaponised and used against said humans by simply extinguishing any protective light and then attracting them to their prey, which is very handy and, not forgetting to mention, a guilty pleasure. Just wait until you see what can be achieved later on in the game. It’s all very interesting, let me tell you that, and that’s all I’m saying as to utter another word would be a journey into spoiler territory. 

Yes, there’s moments in the game where you aren’t dodging soldiers and rats.

As you explore the mostly linear environments, you’ll come across materials that can be used for crafting and upgrades. You can upgrade Amicia’s equipment at workbenches, while ammunition can be crafted at any time, and you’ll receive different alchemy recipes throughout the game, allowing you to do so. There’s ammo that allows you to attract rats, extinguish fire, remove enemy helmets, and so on, and it does all come together to make for some decent gameplay variation. 

A Plague Tale also features some puzzles, although none of them are particularly taxing, which may disappoint you depending on who you are. There’s still some fairly well designed puzzles though, and they’re definitely a nice little break from everything else. Still, it would have been nice to see more imagination in their solutions. 

All in all though, A Plague Tale: Innocence is a very engaging game that has a whole lot going for it. The basic stealth mechanics are very functional, the rats add horror and variation to the game, the visuals are very attractive, and the dark and mature plot and characters are memorable. It’s a game that I hadn’t really heard much of before its release, but it’s one that I was delighted to discover.