What is the most important thing in a video game? If your concept is to take it and not leave it until you finish it, this will interest you. A title that proposes us to travel to the Middle Ages of the brothers Amicia and Hugo to discover a terrible threat that is killing humanity. Here our analysis of A Plague Tale: Innocence.
We’ve heard for far too long that video games focused on a player, and more specifically the very narrative, were in danger of extinction. Reality is quite another. You just have to know how to find good exponents. Today we are going to tell you one to add to your list of adventures with careful narrative, in this sense essential for lovers of well-told stories. It’s about A Plague Tale: Innocence.
Not long ago I could try it in Paris, for the sake of some playable impressions, and I already told you that it had surprised me. With an absorbing plot, the story of the brothers Amicia and Hugo catches you from start to finish and does not let go until you see the credit screen. Based on the France of the fourteenth century, the game revolves around a terrible plague that is causing havoc among the population. A mysterious child involved, and the Inquisition giving chase, are the bastions that erect a very gratifying narrative arc to follow, with moments of action, drama and, although little, the hope of leaving this alive.
Raised as a flight forward, the best thing about the videogame is that it knows how to combine history and playability with virtuosity. The progress is very linear, as well as the resolution of the problems that you are encountering. However, when you play you feel that it could not have been done any other way, everything fits perfectly, and in addition, stealth becomes predominant, as a consequence of the fragile nature of our protagonists. That is the essence of a title with high production values (more than 100 people) in which the Gauls of Asobo Studio give us a gratifying surprise.
A great story to tell
A Plague Tale: Innocence could be considered as a fantastic hyperbole of the black plague that hit Europe, precisely at the same time as the game is developed. Collecting that portion of reality and turning it into a narrative adventure for a player (and with a background) has been the great challenge of the developers. Amicia and Hugo are the brothers who bear the nightmare that brought this terrible pandemic, with the rats no longer as the good or bad of the film, but as judges of the evil immersed in the human being.
The world of the game is one that falls apart chapter by chapter, each of the 10-12 hours of our journey. On the way, rats, many rats that we can not face, but flee … And the same will happen to the soldiers who, under the mantle of the Holy Inquisition, pretend to be with our little brother. Besieged and fragile, the user ends up feeling as his own what is counted in each game sequence, cinematic or dialogue. Everything is plausible, even in spite of the surprising events that take place.
The best thing is that there is not an episode like another and, although one or another scenario is repeated, we must also say that everything ends up having a plot sense. We have many escapes, but not a few confrontations, puzzles and even the odd chapter that comes out more than usual, with surprising twists. The screenwriter Sebastien Renard (participant in Life is Strange ) demonstrates talent to give rise to a formidable narrative structure, with moments of peace that come quickly followed by spikes of tension. It is the greatest good of a title that has had a dozen people only dedicated to the narration of this medieval drama.
A Plague Tale: Innocence does not come to propose an artificially prolonged duration
Of course, A Plague Tale: Innocence is mostly a videogame, and it’s not something you can deny while playing. Despite its linear nature, the mechanics fit perfectly with the narrative guidelines that are presented. In this sense, the rats are omnipresent, and we should be dodging them continuously, through puzzles that use fire as the main resource. We will create bonfires, we will divert beams of light or we will make torches to scare away these slippery animals. We will also unlock new skills for our protagonist, daughter of an alchemist, which contribute to generating many situations.
This variety is important, and the truth is that it is well managed, combining the presence of rats with the guards that go to our hunt. This is when the all-important stealth mechanics come into play. Most of the game requires us to be crouched, taking advantage of obstacles to hide from the enemy’s eyes and generating all kinds of distractions. It is difficult to make a good game within the infiltration genre, but thanks to a studied design, linear and controlled, the truth is that they have achieved some very rewarding results.
This is how the narrative flows along with the suffocating siege of the rats and the continued vigilance of the guards, who are looking for our brother Hugo. Those who love the action will have it more complicated with this video game since there are hardly any sequences in which to use a slingshot against the enemies. The game shows that it is comfortable at a leisurely pace and, by the way, with lots of puzzles, from the simplest ones (in which to redirect a group of rats to a safe position) to the more elaborate ones (with levers in which to give orders even two companions controlled by artificial intelligence). They are not puzzler challenges made for you to get stuck continuously, but to pose a pleasant challenge.
As you have already understood, A Plague Tale: Innocence does not come to propose an artificially prolonged duration. What he has to tell he does at the right time, and I have not noticed that he needed much more. There is some collectible in case you want to give yourself a second round, as well as a skill and crafting tree that will be difficult to complete 100% in the first game. However, go thinking it has been designed to play once and reflect on the great story you have lived in A Plague Tale: Innocence.
And what if it does … This is one of the best narratives I’ve experienced in a videogame, something that would not have been possible without the overwhelming production values applied by Asobo Studios. It is a work in which nearly a hundred people have participated, with a strong work not only at a narrative level but also at an artistic level. The recreation of medieval French landscapes is formidable, going from the countryside and the farmer environment to the more bourgeois and even aristocratic. The contrast of situations involves going from warmer tones to more cold and dark ones, something that is in tune with the narrative intentionality, which is formidable in terms of direction.
The music goes hand in hand with this feeling, producing a synergistic combination of sensations, through the frequent use of stringed instruments. The climate of tension predominates, sometimes of agony, but it is also known to transmit the peace of that always necessary to stop along the way. The only thing that could perhaps have been asked to the version subtitled in Spanish is that it also came dubbed (it has voices in English, French, and German). However, the performances are excellent, above the average in this type of productions.
Essential for lovers of well told stories
A few reasons, therefore, to complain about a video game that arrives, by the way, in physical and digital format. Focus Interactive has bet strongly for this production and the truth is that to brand it as surprising does not seem at all exaggerated. It has a very elaborate and absorbing story, gameplay consistent with their intentions, more than remarkable production values and a brilliant finish, without a single loading time that breaks the rhythm(only between chapters). With small grains of sand like that of A Plague Tale: Innocence is how you get to level up video games as a medium. Do not miss it.
A good story can also make a difference in a video game, and A Plague Tale: Innocence is a great example of that. The story of the brothers Amicia and Hugo overwhelms, with a mixture of realism and fantasy that translates to the screen through quiet mechanics of stealth and puzzles that will keep you trapped during the nearly 10 hours it lasts. One of those titles that in addition to suppose an absolute surprise, struggles to raise the level of the video game industry.
- An interesting and absorbing story that surprises from beginning to end
- Good narrative rhythm, by chapters and without load times that break the action
- The medieval setting is achieved, with great contrast of scenarios
- The stealth mechanics fit perfectly with the sensation of fragility
- The plague of rats is an omnipresent challenge with a narrative background
- Good variety of situations and abundant puzzles, of various types
- Graphics and sound production values. Subtitled in Spanish
- Although narratively justified, some situations are repeated and break the rhythm somewhat
- A dubbing into Spanish would have allowed continuing the adventure even better