Early on in A Plague Story: Innocence, you’re controlling a younger woman, holding arms together with her scared little brother, whereas operating down a metropolis road full of individuals making an attempt to kill them each. It is likely to be essentially the most annoying expertise I’ve ever had in a online game. It’s additionally the norm within the recreation, which is about two siblings making an attempt to outlive completely horrible circumstances. In contrast to most video video games, in A Plague Story, you not often have moments whenever you really feel highly effective. It’s a battle, particularly when it looks like every part you encounter — whether or not it’s scared adults or swarms of diseased rats — is out to get you. Its grisly nature could make it a problem to play via, however it’s additionally one of the arresting video games I’ve skilled in a while.
A Plague Story stars Amicia, a younger woman who lives on a big property together with her household in medieval-era France. (She additionally seems remarkably like Aloy, the lead in Horizon Zero Daybreak.) Her relationship together with her household is curious. Whereas she’s shut together with her father — an early scene reveals the 2 out looking collectively — she not often sees her mom, who spends her time looking for a treatment for Amicia’s brother, Hugo, who suffers from a mysterious sickness. Nonetheless, it appears a largely peaceable life — till very early on within the recreation when the Inquisition lays siege to the property in the hunt for Hugo. The siblings ultimately escape, however they’re compelled out on their very own the place they’ve to determine find out how to survive whereas additionally looking for out why, precisely, the Inquisition needs Hugo.
The world outdoors shouldn’t be a pleasant place. The plague has ravaged the nation, and the fortunate few who haven’t succumbed to the sickness have turn into mad with paranoia. Early on, when Amicia and Hugo head to a close-by village in the hunt for assist, everybody they encounter instantly tries to kill them. It’s a terrifying, panicky race to security. Even worse, at night time, swarms of lethal rats come out, and Inquisition guards are always looking out for the siblings. The world feels virtually totally hostile to your presence.
A Plague Story might be finest described as a stealth recreation, although the way you work together with it relies on the state of affairs. With people, it’s a variety of sneaking round, utilizing distractions like smashed pots to divert consideration so you may get previous. In the case of the rats, they’re terrified of sunshine, so that you’ll end up utilizing hearth to make pathways via the diseased swarms. Generally, you’ll need to cope with each concurrently: a guard wielding a lantern is likely to be prowling round, retaining the rats at bay. It’s a gradual expertise proper till it isn’t — after which you end up in a panicked run for survival.
The sport is generally a simple path, however you do have a variety of freedom for the way you remedy issues. Amicia’s major software is a sling she will use to fling rocks, however over the course of the sport, you’ll unlock new instruments that allow you to do issues like extinguish a flame or summon a bunch of rats. The one factor you may’t get round, although, is doing horrible issues to outlive. Initially, Amicia is hesitant to kill, and the primary time she does, it’s a traumatic expertise. She goes as far as to wish in a church afterward. However that doesn’t final lengthy.
In the end, she’s compelled to kill many instances, and A Plague Story gives some actually disturbing methods to defeat enemies and remedy issues. Most contain using the rats to kill for you; it by no means feels good seeing a guard swarmed, even when they’re fairly horrible folks. Normally, A Plague Story is only a brutal recreation. You’ll stroll previous large piles of corpses, each human and animal, sneak via large swimming pools of blood, and there are all method of ugly homicide animations. Sadly, you’re going to see Amicia get stabbed to demise loads earlier than the ultimate credit roll. It may be a bit a lot to take at instances, and I needed to take common breaks whereas taking part in.
Whereas it could actually really feel overwhelming, this grisly tone is basically essential for the darker story the sport tells. And the most effective a part of A Plague Story is the best way it weaves gameplay and storytelling collectively. There are cutscenes, however essentially the most highly effective narrative moments are ones that occur in recreation, as you watch Amicia and Hugo — and, later, some useful buddies — work collectively via horrible conditions. They discuss and strategize, and the siblings virtually by no means cease holding arms all through all of it. The few moments whenever you lose monitor of Hugo are among the many most annoying within the recreation.
A Plague Story spans a reasonably prolonged 17 chapters, and, for essentially the most half, it manages to maintain up that wonderful mix of stealth problem-solving coupled with a darkish, mysterious story. I stored pushing on via the uncomfortable moments as a result of I cherished the characters and needed to know what the grand secret turned out to be. Sadly, the sport loses some momentum towards the tip when its challenges really feel extra like trial-and-error than precise puzzle-solving. At instances, it even devolves right into a easy motion recreation. There are a variety of moments when it’s a must to die repeatedly with a view to perceive the patterns essential for attending to security, and that is very true of a grand closing boss battle that actually sucks among the momentum out of the sport.
In the end, it’s not sufficient to dampen what A Plague Story units out to do. Whereas many parts of the sport, like its concentrate on stealth and crafting, can really feel acquainted, it’s wrapped up in a narrative and world which might be like nothing I’ve performed earlier than. There’s a way of urgency and hazard that by no means actually goes away. You possibly can by no means actually loosen up. It’s a darkish world, however watching a bunch of children determine find out how to thrive makes it price exploring.
A Plague Story: Innocence is obtainable now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.