We don’t see many linear, single-player games these days, not AAA titles anyway. Apparently, it’s not profitable and that’s what has driven the industry into releasing tons and tons of vast, open-world games that more often than not have less content than traditional linear games did. A Plague Tale: Innocence is a rare gem from the dying single-player genre that was able to draw me in and keep me engaged for 15-18 hours and turned out to be one of the most memorable and touching stories I’ve experienced in a while. The likes of Avengers Endgame or GoT got nothing on this gorgeous game set in Medieval France.

A Plague Tale: Innocence

A Plague Tale: Innocence is one of those games with a predominantly teenage caste, but unlike most games with young adult leads, it’s quite dark. Set during turbulent times, when most of the country is hit by a deadly plague and at the same time the Spanish Inquisition is trying to play god, there is no filter or censorship hiding the ugly realities of war and disease from the audience. It’s one of those games that doesn’t shy after from killing off main characters or taking really dark, unexpected turns.

A Plague Tale: Innocence: Story

The story follows Amicia, the daughter of a noble family who is forced into hiding after her family is brutally murdered by soldiers of the Inquisition. Through the course of the game, her primary objective involves looking after her kid-brother and try and find a cure for his mysterious disease, all the while avoiding hordes of armed soldiers and the deadly plague-infected rats who only grow bolder and more organized by the hour.

A Plague Tale: Innocence

One of the things that I really loved about A Plague Tale: Innocence is how forthcoming it is with the player. It portrays Amicia’s brother Hugo like any five year old, curious and naive, but at the same time also shows how hard it can be to deal with kids of this age group. You don’t want to lie to them, but at the same time don’t feel like exposing them to the cold, harsh reality. It becomes even worse if they find out you lied to them or hid something from them.

Furthermore, it also highlights how humans adapt to calamities like famines or plagues and how quickly we can judge creatures or beings we don’t quite understand. There are contrasting themes throughout the game, on one hand you’ve mankind’s knack for destruction and on the other the importance of family and friends.

Gameplay

The gameplay is quite simple at first but keeps getting more and more complex as you progress through the various chapters of the game. It’s mostly stealth-based replying on basic planning and quick decisions. There’s a soldier blocking your way, in the earlier chapters, you can only kill the lightly armored units and distract the rest as your companions sneak past. In the latter half of the game, you gain various tools of death like a “plague-rat attract-er”, a compound that forces heavies to take off their helmets, allowing for an executing or simply a sleep-inducing drug.

A Plague Tale: Innocence

For a major portion of the game, you’ll avoid the dark or get eaten alive by bloodthirsty plague-rats. This will mostly involve going from point A to point B with or while staying close to a light source and finding ways to light them. Overall, it’s quite engaging and doesn’t feel like a drag, as the gameplay keeps on evolving with every chapter.

Visuals and Soundtrack

Though Plague Tale has an interesting gameplay, the focus most certainly lies in the gorgeous visuals and the dreary atmosphere, only heightened by the riveting soundtrack. The game is built atop the Unreal 4 engine, and as such, features all modern graphics effects from Screen Space Reflections, Ambient Occlusion, and Anti-Aliasing to Volumetric Lighting, Contact Shadows and a Resolution Scale. The tracks are mostly cello or violin-heavy that go well with the Medieval French setting and the dark themes.

Related:

These Screenshots Depict the Beautiful World of A Plague Tale: Innocence in Ultra HD

Conclusion

A Plague Tale: Innocence

These days the norm is that the best single player games come only to the PlayStation console as Sony first-party exclusives. Therefore, seeing a linear, single player like Plague Tale is a much-appreciated addition to an industry obsessed with Open World, action titles and more recently the Battle Royale genre. If you like story-rich games with a dark setting like BioShock Infinite or Dragon Age, then you ought to check this one out.

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