A Plague Tale: A Requiem Goes to the Bone | reconsidering

A Plague Tale: A Requiem Goes to the Bone |  reconsidering

Amecia and developer Asobo have come of age

written by Alicia tai op

After the excellent A Plague Tale: Innocence and Microsoft Flight Simulator, Asobo Studio has proven that this relatively unknown studio is not only extremely versatile, but also terribly talented. With A Plague Tale: Requiem, the French developer once again exceeded expectations and proved that it has a lot to offer.

Six months after the events of A Plague Tale: Innocence, Amicia and Hugo are still searching for a way to get Macula’s curse out of Hugo. Their journey takes them to the Mediterranean, a region located at the southeastern tip of France. Everything seems like a piece of cake, until sister and brother once again have to flee from the mice that seem to follow them everywhere.

Thus, A Plague Tale: Requiem follows the style of a video game sequel, continuing with a logical story and recognizable gameplay, but in a new location and with better graphics. However, if we look beyond these superficial similarities, we see a very different face of A Plague Tale.

You can even take that literally, because the focus in the Death Mass is more on Big Sister Amecia. Since then, she has embraced her role as Hugo’s protector and made peace with the fact that their world and their lives will never be the same again. Amecia is ready to fight. Against the world, against fate, and against herself as well.

This fighting spirit is not only expressed in her emotions, but also in her behavior and thus the way she plays. Where the story of A Plague Tale: Innocence is primarily about stealth and avoidance of confrontations, Amicia responds forcefully this time around. The young woman strangles unsuspecting soldiers with her slingshot, stabs them with a knife, and as an icing on the cake, this time equipped with a crossbow with which she effortlessly pierces enemies.

This is not to say that A Plague Tale: Requiem has suddenly become an action game. The knives can be discarded, but they can also be used to break open chests with upgrade materials, so you need to think about how you want to use them. While the crossbow is very useful in difficult situations, arrows are rare and reloading is slow. And no matter how fierce the gameplay, a single hit from the enemy can be fatal. So you still need to be on guard.

However, the game encourages diverse gameplay styles by giving Amicia new abilities depending on how she handles stressful situations. If you use the aggressive style of play, the Amicia will also become more combative. If you’re mainly roving, its footsteps get even more silent. Effectively using alchemy to eliminate enemies is also a path that Amecia can take.

The game offers enough freedom to try out these different gameplay styles. While you still have to get from A to B, there is a lot of land to explore and there are multiple ways to reach your destination. You’re no longer spotted a foolproof game, not only because Amicia is easier to bite into, but also because you have much more space at your disposal to escape and try a different approach.

A Plague Tale Requiem
A Plague's Tale: Requiem

A Plague Tale Requiem

If you get caught, it will automatically restart with the latest autosave created. There’s no shortage of checkpoints, but it’s frustrating that you can’t save yourself. Sometimes a poorly timed checkpoint meant we had to listen to the same dialogues over and over, or make ammo every time we rebooted. It spoils not only the speed of the fun game, but also the fun. Fortunately, such moments are rare.

Your companions, like Hugo and the young alchemist Lucas, are also an important part of the Death Mass. Each ally has its own specialty that matches one of the three play styles, allowing you to explore all the possibilities naturally. Hugo is no longer the helpless babysitter, but he makes himself useful by sending mice directly to his enemies. In addition, the new additions to the cast are interesting and frank characters with sufficient depth. They contribute not only during confrontations, but also much-needed emotional support for Amecia and Hugo.

Like its predecessor, A Plague Tale: Requiem is a two-sided game. There are quiet moments, like when you pet a goat with Hugo for the first time, play games at the fairgrounds or simply enjoy the sunny Provencal countryside. These hopeful moments are full of wonder, but they are always temporary. As long as the stain still ran in Hugo’s blood, it was only a matter of time before the rats spit through the paving stones and devour all the life around them. Then the plague tale shows its other disgusting side.

Whether it’s a bustling market or the vibrant heart of a rat’s nest, great graphics and a laid-back soundtrack always come together to make all the atmosphere. The even light of A Plague Tale: Innocence makes way for more dramatic highlights, while Unreal Engine 5 does a great job of realistic rock formations and dense forests. Olivier Derivière completes the overall picture with a chilling soundtrack filled with atmospheric violin playing that is sometimes so intense that you feel strings in your bones.

A Plague's Tale: Requiem

Once they appear, the rats are yet another tornado to be reckoned with of pitch-black violence that is spreading death and destruction everywhere it goes. With the power of the current generation of consoles, it’s even more impressive, popping up in the tens of thousands at the same time. Like a deadly tsunami, they swallow up settlements, leaving behind only bones, rubble and biting corpses. They are the most dangerous threat in the game, as every touch has a deadly effect. You are only safe in the light where rodents cannot reach.

Thus, encounters with soldiers are punctuated by more puzzle-like pieces where you have to fight your way through swarms of mice without being eaten. Sometimes you have to take both things into account at the same time. It is not a bad idea, then, to use mice to your advantage, although the grumble of soldiers eaten alive does not quickly leave your memory or that of Amecia. Unnecessary killing often also leads to rejection of feedback from your comrades. However, Amecia’s innocence was long ago lost.

A Plague's Tale: Requiem

A Plague Tale: Requiem is not a fun game at its darkest moment. Asobo is not shy about bringing you the most sinister scenes. Each time, Amecia and Hugo’s hopes for a peaceful life are painfully dashed. Amecia’s anger at the world is contagious, and her despair is understandable. You want to hurt the world again and at the same time there is a question of conscience in your head. Is it worth saving the life of Hugo the death of thousands of innocent people? Ethics is an important topic to explore, but the game ultimately struggles to find a satisfactory answer. However, we can appreciate the bold choices made and we’re very curious what the future of A Plague Tale will look like next. If Asobo Studio keeps up with this level, things will only be rosy.

A Plague Tale: Requiem will be available October 18 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, S, PC, and Nintendo Switch (cloud edition). For this review, the game was played on Xbox Series X.

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