A Plague Tale: Innocence is the perfect combination of storytelling, action, and gameplay that proves that the world needs more single-player games.
With so much focus on multiplayer games, it's always refreshing when a great single-player game comes along and proves that there is still a need for this kind of game in the industry. A Plague Tale: Innocence is not only a solid single-player game, but one that demonstrates that linear storytelling is still relevant and as thrilling as any massive AAA open-world title. A Plague Tale: Innocence is a combination of everything that makes for a great game: suspenseful action and emotional storytelling.
In A Plague Tale: Innocence, players take on the role of Amicia De Rune, the daughter of a noble in 14th century France at the height of the deadly plague that ravaged Europe. Amicia has a five-year-old brother, Hugo, who has a disease that makes him unique: a supernatural thing in his blood that makes him a target of the Inquisition. It is after the Inquisition attacks their home that Amicia and Hugo must make their way through the land, fighting the rats that bring the plague, as well as the Inquisition who would seek Hugo's blood for their own. Through their journey, they meet other children, those left abandoned by the disease and the world, who help them in their search for answers and, eventually, revenge.
Gameplay is in third-person and involves a lot of stealth: much of what Amicia and Hugo do is hide and distract enemies with various skills and alchemical potions. Not only do Inquisition soldiers pose a threat, but swarms of rats can also instantly kill the children if they get too close. Amicia arms herself with a slingshot, which can sling rocks at soldiers' hands, felling them quickly. Eventually, Hugo also gains some skills that help the two fight off the rats and even use the rodents to get past soldiers. Amicia also can tell Hugo, as well as the other children when they are in the party, what to do. These are simple commands, such as "stay" or "come." One party member, though, can pick locks, while another can smash down barriers and doors.
Hiding is always preferable to fighting, but sometimes the children have no choice. Combat eventually becomes more complicated, with players needing to combine potions, skills and the slingshot to take out certain enemies. There are also several challenging boss fights that will require players to figure out exactly how to take the big bad out by combining Amicia and Hugo's skills at the same time. These fights are often tricky, but they are also genuinely fun. Amicia can also collect resources in her environments, things that she can use to make alchemical potions on the spot. The game also offers workbenches where Amicia can upgrade her slingshot.
It's the story of A Plague Tale: Innocence, though, that truly shines. Although the game offers up its share of horrific moments, such as swarms of rats surrounding the children, it also has its tender scenes, particularly between Amicia and Hugo. Although these two children hardly know each other because Hugo's disease has kept him mostly in his mother's care throughout his short five years, they begin to learn more about each other and find a love that only siblings possess. There are some emotional scenes throughout the game, the kind that will nearly leave a player in tears. The voice acting is particularly good, which lends even more credence to those special moments. Even the heavy breathing of the children as they hide from soldiers lends itself to the action in a way that leaves the player feeling breathless, too.
The game refreshingly has no noticeable bugs or glitches which is a rarity in this day and age when games so often get rushed out before they're ready. The graphics are also much better than one might expect from an indie game: for example, one can see the textures of the clothing distinctly, hair flows in a very natural way and the movement of characters is fluid. That leaves nothing to complain about: this title is about as close to perfect as games can get. It successfully combines horror, action, survival, combat and story in a way that so few games do in this modern age. A Plague Tale: Innocence is also a reminder that the world still needs single-player story-based games, especially those that are as wonderfully beautiful and heartfelt as this one.
A Plague Tale: Innocence is available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on May 14, 2019. A digital code for the PlayStation 4 version of the game was provided to Screen Rant for this review.