Review A Plague Tale: Innocence - Fear, Death, and Hate in Medieval France

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On May 14, 2019, the French studio Asobo released an unexpectedly cool

and the dark stealth action adventure A PlagueTale: Innocence. The developers, who have produced the controversial Fuel and a couple of games based on cartoons, have risen to a new level and were able to tell an addictive, atmospheric and cruel tale. It's the right mix of The Last of Us, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice and Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons. Details in the review.

Mid-15th century. France.The country is tormented by two disasters: the Inquisition and the plague. And both misfortunes come to the house of the nobles de Runes. The servants of the Holy See came for the youngest son of Hugo. The boy has an unknown illness, so the church became interested in him. The father does not give up his son and dies, and the mother asks Hugo’s sister Amicia to run with her brother to a familiar alchemist who will shelter the children and help Hugo cope with his illness.

In addition to the main plot, where an important roleplays the ancestral curse of the de Runes, the creators of A Plague Tale: Innocence skillfully built the story of the relationship between Amicia and Hugo. The girl is 15 years old. She is brave and honest, but during the game she takes desperate steps and sacrifices for her brother. Hugo was five years old and spent most of his life in his room with his mother and suffered from illness.

The child hardly knows his sister and the strange worldoutside the window, so everything he sees becomes a revelation for him: mountains of corpses, cruelty, deception, hordes of rats, the burning of infidels, the beauty of the forest, a moonlit night, city streets and new acquaintances. As the story progresses, Amicia and Hugo will make friends and enemies. Both add their own stories and personal tragedies to the story, but the main villains are too formulaic.


















Gradually the overall focus of the game changes.If at the beginning A Plague Tale: Innocence is an atmospheric pseudo-historical tragedy with elements of mysticism, then later fantasy is added to the plot. This doesn’t make the story worse, it’s just that with each chapter the game turns into a dark fairy tale, and the relationship between brother and sister, against the backdrop of the atrocities of the Inquisition and the plague, sometimes fades into the background.

Gameplay of A Plague Tale:Innocence also seems simple and straightforward, but elements of different genres are gradually added to it. So, at the beginning it is an adventure game and simplified stealth. Amicia and Hugo are children, so there is no question of any equal opposition to enemies. Brother and sister know how to hide, bypass guards in the bushes or distract them with shots from Amicia’s sling. Over time, simple throwing weapons become a sophisticated tool for dealing with opponents. With its help you can even kill a soldier or defeat hordes of rats.

Amicia's sling and other equipment are allowedpump up, and friends share recipes for improving shells with the heroine. For example, an ordinary stone breaks the unprotected head of a soldier, but it will not defeat a guard in armor. Therefore, there is a stone with acid that will force the enemy to remove his helmet and open himself to a blow with a regular stone. Other recipes are able to put out a fire or protect against rats, or, conversely, attract rodents to the right place - each of them helps in its own situation. As you can see, the developers have made the most of banal and inconspicuous weapons.

True, even such a powerful fantasy was not enoughfor the entire game, so towards the end of the story, the new techniques ran out, and the heroine used combinations of projectiles. But in the finale the player is given an unexpected, unusual and very powerful weapon, but it is impossible to tell in more detail, otherwise there will be spoilers.


















Gradually A Plague Tale:Innocence becomes an action-adventure game, complemented by simple riddles and puzzles. The latter are usually based on playing with fire, because rats are so afraid of it. In some places the flame needs to be extinguished, in others it needs to be lit, in others the lanterns must be deployed correctly, in others the cart needs to be rolled up, and so on and so forth. It is never very difficult, so the riddles are solved quickly and without outside help.

Asobo Studio is doing great with the overall presentation of the game.French developers managed to turn a passive adventure game into an exciting game that is often hard to put down. All thanks to the skillful manipulation of genres and the correct placement of events. Cutscenes are replaced by atmospheric walks through locations, which are diluted with stealth and light battles, after which they allow you to solve puzzles, and then again immerse you in history. Everything is verified, thought out and doesn’t let you get bored.


















In addition to the correct presentation of the plot Asobo Studiosucceeded in other ways as well. With a modest budget and a small development team, A Plague Tale: Innocence turned out to be a very beautiful game, the screenshots of which you want to share with everyone. The creators squeezed the most out of their engine and made each location a work of art. They skillfully play with shadows and lighting, glare of the sun, moonlight, fire and other elements of the landscape.

But everything can’t be perfect, so there are disadvantagesthere are, but they are not critical. Where they did a good job on the picture, they missed, or were unable to, bring to mind the facial animation of the characters and the general appearance of the cutscenes. The characters have unnatural facial expressions and scant emotions, and their figures are angular and unfinished. This is compensated by excellent acting and well-chosen voices.

Optimization on PCs raises some complaints.I played the game on PS4 and had no problems. But PC boys complain that the game is demanding on hardware and often drops fps to indecent levels. Asobo Studio released a couple of patches and let's hope they worked on the bugs.


















Voice acting in A Plague Tale:Innocence is also good, and the tunes of composer Olivier Derivière (who wrote music for 11-11: Memories Retold, Vampyr, Alone in the Dark and other famous games) provided the lion's share of the overall mood of hopelessness. Russian subtitles are adequate. No serious errors were noticed during the translation, but there is one big mistake. In the original the boy's name is Hugo, and localizers translated this name as Hugo.

A Plague Tale:Innocence is a beautiful and heartbreaking adventure that cleverly plays with history and mixes it up just right with fantasy. This is a coolly told, albeit naive, but touching fairy tale with stunning graphics and simple, but not boring gameplay. The meager mechanics of the adventure stealth have been worked to the limit, but there are problems with optimization on PC, which can easily be corrected with patches. I’m not happy with the price tag of A Plague Tale: Innocence on consoles, which means it’s better to wait for a discount here. But the price on PC is reasonable, so it is recommended to buy the game on this platform and complete it as quickly as possible. She's worth it.

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Adventure, Stealth, Action

PC, Xbox One, PS4

Number of players

Asobo Studio

Focus Home Interactive


release date
May 14, 2019

PS4 games can be purchased from the MOYO online store