The Story of the Plague: Asking to Feel Very Familiar

I’m a bit worried about A Plague Tale: Requiem’s ​​stealth, but its storytelling and characterization still have a lot of potential.

I love A Plague Tale: Innocence. Despite its simple moment-to-moment gameplay, it has become one of my favorite games of 2019 thanks to its great art direction, great performance, and engaging story. While I’m very curious to see where the story goes in Requiem, the gameplay – bugs and all – feels a bit… also Acquainted. Most of these issues are easy to overlook in 2019 when it seems Asobo Studio has exceeded its weight. Now, however, these same problems are harder to forgive.

Requiem takes place right after the first game and is set in 14th-century France during the Great Plague, at the start of the Hundred Years’ War. While both games are set in realistic depictions of France, the story often has gothic supernatural elements. This is easily one of the coolest things about Innocence and Requiem, and what sets it apart from most third-person adventure games. The world is magically detailed and everything has a creepy feel to it.

Just like in the original, you will play as Amicia, a young girl tasked with escorting her younger brother Hugo through a world plagued with rats and occupied by hostile soldiers. Along with Amicia’s trusty sling, Requiem introduces a crossbow. As you would expect, the crossbow is much more deadly than Amicia’s crossbow, however, it is very difficult to catch the crossbow. This means that, like Innocent, most encounters require a more stealthy approach. You can throw objects to attract enemies’ attention, get into tight spaces to hide from view, and track enemy movements with a vision mode called Ratsense. Yes, Ratsense.

The first few enemy encounters in the preview I played weren’t great. After Amicia is expelled from a lovely little pilgrimage camp, she stumbles into some ruins and soldiers quickly close in on her. The first few areas are very cramped and full of dead ends, making it very easy for Amicia to get stuck. If Amicia is captured by a soldier, he will knock her to the ground, Hugo helps her back, and the soldier conveniently waits a second for you to have a chance to react. From here, Amicia can stun the soldier with a counter attack, kill the soldier with a single-use knife, or run away. If Amicia doesn’t react, the guardian will kill her.

It’s nice to have more combat options than in the previous game, but some of the early regions don’t really support them. There’s not much access and when I get spotted and try to run, I’ll be cornered by the guards. Even if I counterattacked or killed one guard, there was usually not enough room to get past the remaining soldiers. This means pure stealth is really my only option. I quickly realized that if I was caught, it would be best to simply start the encounter over.

I don’t mind stealth games – in fact I love Metal Gear Solid and I’m a huge fan of Splinter Cell – but stealth isn’t what makes those games so fun. That’s how you can poke and nudge the simulation, allowing you to outsmart your enemies in creative ways. In these early encounters, I feel like my best bet is to throw the jars into conveniently placed armor crates to get enemy attention. This distraction-based approach to stealth wasn’t great in the first game, and it doesn’t seem to grow much here.

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