‘A Plague Tale: Innocence’ Video Game Review

If you would have asked me what I thought my game of the year was going to be at the beginning of 2019, I would have responded with Resident Evil 2Kingdom Hearts 3 or even Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Now, five months into the year, there’s a new front runner. I didn’t go into A Plague Tale: Innocence expecting much, but I left absolutely floored at just how good this game is.

For those unfamiliar with A Plague Tale: Innocence, it is an action adventure stealth game from Asobo Studio and published by Focus Home Interactive. The game follows siblings, Amicia and Hugo, as they attempt to survive The Inquisition and the plague that is ravaging the land. Set during the 14th century in France, the Black Plague is devastating Europe, and not all is as it seems. We see early on in the game that this plague, while still being spread by rats, is not the Black Plague we know from the history books. This is a far more violent and gruesome version. Without spoiling too much, the rats are intense and led to many white knuckle moments.

First and foremost, however, let’s look at the gameplay. I’ll be the first one to say it… I hate stealth games. Metal Gear Solid? No thanks. Any older Assassin’s Creed game where the combat sucks? Yep, I’ll pass. A Plague Tale: Innocence, however, made stealth work for me. I didn’t experience any unfair moments that got me caught, and I didn’t struggle on what to do next. The developers did a good job of balancing the gameplay in a way that allows me to have control over what I do, without throwing me to the wolves and letting me end up in a continuous cycle of frustration.

The overall gameplay mechanics are easy to understand, and they add a layer of depth that I didn’t expect. For example, Amicia has a sling that can be used to combat enemies, distract enemies and keep the rats at bay by utilizing the crafting feature. Hugo, on the other hand, is capable of getting into smaller places, mainly helping solve the various puzzles littered throughout the game. Combining the two characters created an interesting and engaging gameplay loop that I thoroughly enjoyed.

What I really would like to touch upon, however, is just how this game made me feel. I’ve been describing A Plague Tale: Innocence as an experience rather than just a game. I’ve played games that are designed to invoke stress – I’m looking at you Outlast – but nothing quite captures how A Plague Tale made me feel. Often, I found myself with a death grip on my controller, knuckles white and leaning into my TV as if I was actually with Amicia and Hugo. The writing and the overall environment-building captured this feeling of terror that I haven’t found in many other games. The voice acting was on point – Charlotte McBurney in particular – which was easily my favorite part of the whole game. She did a phenomenal job of balancing the terrified teenager, who needed to be strong for her younger brother. A good performance will always draw a viewer or player in.

Finally, I want to talk about just how damn pretty this game is. I played on an Xbox One X on a 4K TV, and I was absolutely blown away at just how beautiful everything looked. From a dreary plague-ravaged city to dark forests to gorgeous orange countrysides, everything looked amazing. I read that Art Director Olivier Ponsonnet stated that the game drew inspiration from 16th century artist Claude Lorrain to create the game’s environments. While I’m not an art historian, one look at Lorrain’s paintings show just how much A Plague Tale was drawn from the works. Seriously, this game is Red Dead Redemption 2 or God of War levels of pretty.

Ultimately, I went into this game with low expectations. I didn’t know too much about it, but the concept sounded interesting. I had no idea that it would become my front runner for 2019’s game of the year. Asobo Studios managed to make a stealth game that I really enjoyed and were able to build an atmosphere that nothing has been able to rival so far in anything else I’ve played. This is all on top of being just a downright gorgeous game. If you haven’t heard of A Plague Tale: Innocence yet, you need to hunt it down as soon as possible. Check out the trailer below, and let us know what you think in the comments!

About Matt Stumpf

My name's Matt, and I love all things horror. Books, movies, video games; you name it, I like it. Martyrs is my favorite horror film, and everyone should watch it. I also have a soft-spot for those cheesy 80's slashers. I'm still slightly convinced that Faces of Death is real.

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