The game was set in France in 1349, at a time when local people had to face a black death - a devastating plague epidemic in Europe. The situation is not improved by the war with England. Somewhere in this whirlwind of death a couple of main characters are thrown - teenage Amicia and her younger brother Hugo. After the murder of the parents of these two by members of the Inquisition, the siblings have to flee surrounded by evil from all sides. However, I immediately warn you that those who expected the action to be set in a clear historical context and references to actual events will be disappointed.
And Plague Tale: Innocence appears more like a dark fairy tale about growing up. In the story presented here, young characters have to jump into the shoes of adults prematurely, because no one else wants or is able to help them and in the face of the omnipresent evil they can count only on themselves. The fantastic character of the story is built largely thanks to bloodthirsty rats. Because of their universality, murderous rodents turn out to be a much more serious threat than the soldiers of the Inquisition.
Hugo's mysterious disease is crucial for the plot, which manifests itself in two ways. The main plot focuses on the search for a cure for the boy. More importantly, however, because of his health problems, he was still isolated from Amica. So when two meet for the first time, they are actually strangers to each other. This gives a natural excuse to develop Joel and Ellie's relationship with The Last of Us. However, the script of A Plague Tale: Innocene was not written as well as in the production of Naughty Dog. Some of their decisions seem to be illogical, and the emotional states of the characters can change too quickly. However, this was to be expected. After all, creators have much less practice in creating a narrative experience for a single player.
Fortunately, the French fix all the problems with the story with the way it is told. Despite some simplicity it was given in a very interesting way. The creators skillfully manage to keep the player in suspense and constant uncertainty until the end, while still increasing the pace. What's more, film interludes appear on the screen quite rarely, because the story is almost inseparable from the game. Almost all the time Amicia spends with Hugo holding her hand. Little details, such as mutual help in climbing or running after her brother, who suddenly withdrew, get in the way every now and then. This gives the story more authenticity. It is also common to have situations where a moment's separation is necessary in order to overcome the problem later in cooperation, or for the older sister to sneak into the back and get rid of the enemy soldiers.
That's right, genre A Plague Tale: Innocene is the closest to a sneaky woman. In a clash with human enemies, heroes die from one hit, so the key is to stay hidden. At this point I have the biggest accusation for the whole game. Stealing was done in an absolutely linear way. In almost every case, a pre-determined path leads to the goal, which can be overcome only in a way imposed on us, possibly choosing a more or less murderous approach.
The real fun, however, unfolds on the adventure plane. As I said before, the main threat is the rat plague. Every now and then the creatures stand in the way of the player in overwhelming numbers, and the challenge is to clear the passage. Sometimes it comes down to playing with simple crafting and setting fire to specific points to get rid of rodents, but often you have to break through more demanding, but not annoying puzzles. The slingshot of Amica is invaluable here. The inconspicuous weapon is not only used to solve conflicts by force, but thanks to the possibility of producing various types of ammunition, it turns out to be extremely useful in environmental puzzles. There is also a motif borrowed from the Dishonored series. Since rats are afraid of light, but they are attracted to fresh meat, they can be used to eliminate members of the Inquisition in a rather macabre way.
From the first announcement of A Plague Tale: Innocence was tempted by a beautiful audiovisual setting. Luckily, there was no particularly aggressive downgrade and the game world captivates with its expressive atmosphere. Although the short game is not short, each of the locations visited was carefully modelled and maintained in a different, distinctive style. Nature is particularly well suited to the austere, gloomy style. However, rats are the most impressive. Trailers did not lie and during the game we will find all their taboos. According to the creators, up to five thousand rodents are rendered in individual scenes at the same time! Of course, it's hard to verify these statements, but I have no reason to doubt them. Views can really be overwhelming. This makes it all the more impressive how the animals act on the player's actions, when they suddenly start running away from the heroine carrying fire, or throw themselves on the body. What is important, contrary to my fears, it is not a technology that puts a special strain on the computer. I didn't notice any significant drops of frames on the mid-range hardware, playing with high graphics settings.
Unfortunately, we should remember that despite the AAA A Plague Tale game setting, it was created by a team with much smaller capabilities. So the world, although beautiful, is very static. Forget about free exploration or any influence on the environment.
There is also a problem with the characters. Although the models of the characters, headed by their faces, were made absolutely brilliant, the animation, and especially the facial expressions, leave something to be desired. Also, most of the voice actors didn't impress me very much. Fortunately, the voice acting foreground siblings stands at a sufficiently high level. It's hard to say anything about the musical setting. It complements the fantastic mood, awakening the feeling of danger when rats approach.
And Plague Tale: Innocence is one of the strongest positions of this year so far and a must-have title for all those who like emotional experiences for a single player. Asobo Studio has proved that smaller teams are able to come out of the clash with the big molochas, creating works that are highly refined and not subject to modern business trends. I'm glad that there's still room for immersive stories on the market, using the advantage of the grotesque medium over other media. Although the ending of the game has left me a bit unsatisfied, the creators claim that this is a closed story. Perhaps the intention was to leave the player with a certain emptiness to fill in with reflections.