Gamers look for specific elements in a video game that they gravitate towards to be entertained. Gameplay, story, graphics, variety, combat, etc. I’ve always believed two key elements that are most important are gameplay mechanics and story.
A Plague Tale: Requiem, developed by Asobo Studio, is a follow-up to A Plague Tale: Innocence. They created a game with a focus on story, character development, and tense gameplay yet again with even more crazy rat-infested events. Although not without its minor flaws, this studio is starting to develop a reputation as a master storyteller and not just a developer of licensed games.
A Tale of Two Games
After the events of A Plague Tale: Innocence, big sister Amicia, brother Hugo and their mom survive a terrible plague that has swept their land. The rats are not only carriers but a dangerous hivemind that can attack like a tsunami. These rats are found to be involuntarily controlled by the Macula. A rare blood disease carried by Hugo. Now with newfound knowledge and survival skills, they set out to find a cure.
This is the simplest way I can explain this tale without getting too deep into some of the events that unfolded in the previous game or what comes next. Part of what has made this series so enthralling is the character development of the main characters, supporting characters, and the chain of events that occur in between. What helps bring it all together is the A+ voice talent from everyone involved.
“Requiem takes you not only on their quest, but also through their inner journey, overcoming the violence of their time and facing the morality of actions they would have rather not taken. Amicia and Hugo’s relationship is the very heart of A Plague Tale, and Requiem explores their mutual influence in this psychological trial, for the worse but also the better.”Asobo Studio
There’s beauty in darkness
At the start, I was immediately enjoying the tutorial. It starts off with both siblings enjoying a day out, playing while figuring out game mechanics. Players will notice beautiful, colorful areas. It gives a sense of hope, love, and happiness these characters began to finally feel after the first game. Asobo takes their time telling the story first before they throw players into any gameplay or depressing events. That is what sets Requiem apart from other survival-type action games.
When the rats do show up, it’s very clear the new technology has ramped up the detail on each and every rat on screen. In Innocence, the rats kind of looked like an amorphous blob of eyes and tails sometimes. Now players can see each individual rat as they swarm throughout the land. With the help of photo mode, players can now take pictures of terrifying set pieces in detail.
Playing with rats
I was disappointed to see Amicia is back using her old tricks which only pretty much have to be relearned throughout her journey. There are some new ones used as well with the help of her sidekick Lucas. Maybe this again is more to focus on the story, but it felt more like a cop-out on introducing skills to new players.
Requiem’s main focus on gameplay is stealth. This is no different than the last game. Although Asobo makes sure there are combat moments, it’s always preferred for players to sneak around to the exit. Unfortunately, it’s not always clear where the exit is, which leaves players running (or hiding) around trying to connect point A to point B. It’s a lot of trial and error since players will find themselves dying until they find the perfect path and actions to run through.
The rats themselves are still part of the puzzle with each encounter to sneak away safely. The grouping of soldiers looking for you and rats acting as dangerous barriers made me feel helpless and absolutely made some encounters difficult.
Each map is rather large, leaving players opportunities for exploration and experimentation with Amicia’s weapons. I would also criticize though that every encounter is rather predictable. Meaning when you get a new item or weapon, you’re using it right away in an encounter. The story beats can also be predictable. The story, dialogue, things are looking up, then they look down, encounter enemies, rinse and repeat.
A delicious Ratatouille
Requiem does a great job with its balance of tense gameplay and immersive storytelling, even if it is a bit predictable. I loved all the stunning landscapes, deep character development, beautiful graphics, epic music, and fun weapons at Amicia’s disposal. Even though the main focus of the Plague series is the story, gameplay variety is still an important element, and it delivers.
Although you don’t necessarily need to play Innocence to play Requiem, I highly recommend it. The characters make the game, and with the new technological leap, it stands out even more. This is a quality 20-hour journey about sacrifice, family, morality, and the will of the mind. It’s not a high-octane action game, this is a slow, methodical burn with stakes I can’t wait for players to experience.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of A Plague Tale: Requiem for the Xbox Series X provided by Asobo Studio and Focus Home Interactive.