The year 2019 was oozing with popular AAA titles for PC and consoles alike. Sometimes, when there is such a busy season for launches, certain games get buried underneath all the announcements. A Plague Tale: Innocence was one of those titles. Developed by Asobo Studio, this game hit everyone by surprise. Taking place in a fictionalized version of 14th century France, players take control of Amicia de Rune as she goes on an epic quest to find a cure for her 5-year-old brother, Hugo, from a mysterious illness.
Garnering favorable reviews, A Plague Tale: Innocence somehow managed to slip under everyone’s radar. Now its follow-up, A Plague Tale: Requiem, which was released in 2022, is available on PS Plus for every uninitiated gamer to check out. This is a prime opportunity to discover one of the most well-crafted titles that has come out within the last few years. The gameplay may seem reminiscent of other popular titles. However, A Plague Tale: Requiem has a distinct feel and rawness to it which is seldom found in other titles of this generation.
A Plague Tale: Requiem Gameplay
To start, it is worth pointing out that this game doesn’t have much of a melee combat system to it. Amicia is clear when she states she, “doesn’t like swords, so she doesn’t use them.” This may turn off certain gamers out there, but this game knows what it is. Which is mostly a “cat and mouse” stealth-based adventure game. Going toe-to-toe with enemies should be considered as a last resort. Mechanically, it is similar to the melee found in the most recent Tomb Raider games. Follow a couple of button prompts, stun your enemy with your sling, and hide. That’s generally how combat works. Luckily, Amicia isn’t harmless. She can choke out, push, and trick enemies into certain traps. Not to mention, she garners a crossbow later in the game and even a knife. The latter can be used only once, either to permanently incapacitate an enemy or open hidden chests.
Now, when it comes to stealth, A Plague Tale: Requiem plays just like The Last of Us. Amicia will be able to crouch, lay underneath tables, sneak behind walls, and within assorted fields of grass. The cliche, ‘throwing stones to distract your enemy’ feature can be found here, too. Of course, there will be other ways to do this. Additionally, Amicia will also always have a companion with her. Each offers new ways to assist in combat and solving puzzles. This game is a slow burner. Everything will feel shallow and limited during the first couple of hours of gameplay. Once its RPG elements are introduced, things start opening up and become increasingly interesting.
A Plague Tale: Requiem RPG Features
It may surprise some gamers that this title does indeed have RPG mechanics in the organic variety. Based on your playstyle, Amicia will automatically upgrade her skills. Either she will become quieter with her steps, deadlier with her attacks, or more proficient in alchemy. This game molds Amicia based on how a player engages her in certain situations. Like this, there are also workshops used to upgrade equipment like; the crossbow, holding bags, and the sling. This game drips feed you new mechanics at a steady rate, keeping things fresh during the entire playthrough. Even though this game was made by a small team, the character and sound design are top-notch, as well.
It is not without saying that A Plague Tale: Requiem is linear. There isn’t much wiggle room to explore. There are some alternative paths and hidden rooms to find, but that’s about it. It is really no different than the later Uncharted games, or even God of War. Amicia is free to engage enemies from different directions and experiment with different stealth methods. This only happens during particular open-ended areas of the campaign. Either within the courtyard of a castle or out in the fields. More often than not, you will be funneled from one area to the next, with gameplay scenarios constantly changing. This game is peppered with somber moments, action-set pieces, and even horror. There is enough variety in the level design to keep things interesting, no doubt.
A Plague Tale: Requiem Difficulty
Needless to say, A Plague Tale: Requiem has no mercy. It may even feel broken sometimes, in this regard. Amicia is fragile and she can go down in one hit. With that said, the enemies have the eyes and ears of hawks. Couple this with some rather intelligent A.I. and things can get pretty chaotic. Enemies will yank you from underneath tables, spear you in the back when trying to escape, and even flank you. There’s very little room for error, here. One misstep and you will be reloading your checkpoint in a flash. This is especially true when it comes to the rats.
The rats in A Plague Tale: Requiem are the true stars of this game. Not only do they play a prominent role in the story, but also in the gameplay. Amicia can use them to her advantage and lure them to devour enemies. These pests in this game are deadly. They can tear Amicia down within seconds. They can also introduce some harrowing situations and rather unique puzzles. On a technical aspect, seeing them on screen by the thousands is a sight to behold. All in all, this game is a treat ranging from its design to its mechanics. It may not break any new ground, but it offers an adventure that feels both new and comfortable for gamers looking for a different realm to explore.
A Plague Tale: Requiem was meant to be played slowly. Take your time, soak in the environmental narrative, and enjoy certain moments. This game can be soaked with dread, but there are also enduring moments that break it up and should be embraced. If you missed A Plague Tale: Innocence, then its sequel is highly recommended to catch up on. A Plague Tale: Requiem is now available for; PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.