Archive for June, 2019

A Plague Tale: Innocence or Uninspired Gameplay Plaguing A Great Story

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , , , on June 5, 2019 by Rabidgames

First impressions can be wrong. It may look like it, but thankfully, A Plague Tale: Innocence is neither a Telltale copy-paste game nor a walking simulator (nothing against those, mind you). Instead, the game with yet another weird title is a stealth/puzzle adventure with bits of fighting. And that’s good. Set in 14th century France, protagonist Amicia and her little brother Hugo, who has a mysterious illness in his blood, must escape the heinous inquisition and rats. Tons of supernatural rats.

Unfortunately, we also see the rare case where too much gameplay can hinder a good story. In A Plague Tale: Innocence, this happens once in a while. While the puzzle parts are fine, the stealth parts are usually dragged-out games of hide and seek. Which gets boring quickly. Couple that with the weird idea that Amicia early on learns to kill enemies by hitting baddies in the head, which shocks her at first. If that mechanic would be utilised once or twice, fine. But she’ll leave with a three-figure body count if you feel like handling stuff violently, which honestly feels out of place.

And there’s another issue. See, you’re usually out there with Amicia and Hugo in A Plague Tale: Innocence, and you meet some friends on your adventure. All can help you at times. That’s cool. Not so cool are at two rather long parts where you’re on your own, and all you do is evade or kill (depending on the level). Couple that with the fragile Amicia versus towering guards mechanics where being spotted means death, it’s a boring game of trial and error. Same goes for the quite frankly ridiculous final boss. Whenever A Plague Tale: Innocence turns into an action game, it feels wonky, weird and quite uncomfortable in its own skin.

Thankfully though, there are many sections where you solve puzzles with your friends, where you just walk around and talk (and look for crafting resources), and the cut scenes that show how Amicia and her once estranged brother truly become family are really well done. You also get to know some other kids along the way, and A Plague Tale: Innocence does a great job of bringing them closer to Amicia and you.

The star in A Plague Tale: Innocence is the atmosphere though. Regularly, there are two colour palettes: During the day, you often walk through a lush and colourful landscape, and at night, you long for some light, not only because it will keep you safe from the thousands and thousands of hungry rats you see on screen, but also because the game gives you the illusion of safety there.

fields

Sometimes bright and lush …

A Plague Tale: Innocence also has a nice flow most of the times: Some levels start with walking to the action, a bit of stealth is followed by the puzzles of “create a path of light so the rats won’t devour you”, and then you have some cutscenes. You also see everything from lush forests to battlefields with hundreds of corpses, caves and castles. A Plague Tale: Innocence brings you to many places. And the journey of the siblings also works as a narrative. The supernatural conclusion also works most of the time. It’s only at the final boss where it’s all just a bit too fucking ridiculous.

battlefield

… sometimes dead and dark.

In some ways, A Plague Tale: Innocence resembles the first Life is Strange. A tale of friendship coupled with supernatural events, the end of the world looms, and you have the key to solve the problem. Sure, there are no choices and the gameplay isn’t that unique, but A Plague Tale: Innocence is also the kind of game you might just like despite it being the kind of game you usually don’t like. And if you’re like Rabidgames, you can easily forgive the problems in the gameplay department because the narrative and the atmosphere in A Plague Tale: Innocence are just simply great!

Rabidgames’ verdict: DO NOT BUY the game if you don’t like linear experiences or handholding kids. Or if you like stealth games with tight and elaborate controls. If you’re afraid of rats, well, avoid the game at all costs.

GO BUY if you like a great narrative and a great atmosphere. This game offers both.

 

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