Recently I finished the game A Plague Tale: Innocence, and I’m here with a buy or pass to share my thoughts about it. In this review, I’ll be sharing my opinions about the game, and discussing certain aspects of it to help you decide if the game is either worth buying or passing up on.
I’ve been hearing a lot about A Plague Tale since it was released, but I hadn’t purchased it due to it having a high price tag for the small amount of content in it. After playing it for a while I started to get The Last of Us vibes, which was good since that’s one of my all-time favorite games.
Probably the most important thing I should discuss first is the story, which is the main reason to play this game. I have to say that the story is really good, and sometimes it felt like I was watching a movie. Certain parts of the game are a perfect blend of gameplay, music, and story that come together perfectly to form some pretty exciting scenes.
The story focuses on a girl named Amicia and her little brother Hugo, and together they must navigate the deadly medieval landscapes and try to survive the horrible rat plague that threatens their world.
They eventually team up with several other young survivors to unravel the mystery of where thee rats came from. The story has some small twists to it and takes a few turns that most people won’t expect. My thoughts about the story are mostly positive, with the exception of the boss fights thrown in.
There are 3 boss fights, and all of them are really clunky and not really fun to play. The final boss fight was particularly annoying, which was really disappointing to me.
One theme that runs throughout the game is that you are just a bunch of innocent kids, and Amicia in particular expresses remorse when she’s forced to kill someone. But that quickly changes and all of a sudden you’re killing people left and right. For a game where you’re supposed to be innocent and vulnerable, there are more creative ways to kill people than most other games.
You can feed them to rats several different ways, have one character break their necks, smash their skulls with a slingshot, light them on fire, and permanently put them to sleep with a potion.
It gets to the point where you get the choice to feed helpless soldiers to the rats, which is a major contrast to the beginning of the game. You can explain it by saying that the horrible experiences changed the characters, but the change happens so quickly that it seemed rather abrupt to me.
Besides that though, the game is definitely worth getting for the story. The developers have hinted at a second game, so I hope they explain some of the unanswered questions brought up in the first game.
The next thing I’ll talk about is the graphics, which I think are absolutely gorgeous. The game starts out in a foresty area in the middle of the fall, and everything around is bright and cheery. Leaves are falling all around the forest as the sunlight cascades through the trees.
Honestly this beginning scene has some of the best forest graphics I’ve ever seen in a game.
I think it’s a great contrast to the bleak and dark feel of the rest of the game, and the beginning scene really sets the stage for what’s to come. There are a couple other really impressive scenes throughout the game, but nothing really compared to this opening scene. Anytime it’s daylight out though, there’s bound to be a really pretty view or scene.
Along with the graphics comes the environmental design, which I think was overall very good. The main danger of the game comes in the form of rats, and there are literally hundreds of them on screen at one time. I was pretty surprised of the fact that many rats barely ever gave me frame drops. Out of the entire game, I think the rats only caused my game to slow down one single time.
Since these rats hate the light, most of the game is spent in dark and dreary environments. Most of the environment design is actually very good, and all of the areas feel unique.
Every environment is incredibly linear though, and there are not creative ways to solve areas. The puzzles are fun, but are generally easy to figure out, and there are basically only 2 ways to play – sneak around or kill everyone.
Of course, there are several times when stealth is your only option, but taking out enemies is always the easiest and most fun way to go.
Every environment also has a really impressive sound design, which makes the world feel larger than it is. Every area is linear so there’s not much to explore, but the audio makes the world feel much larger and full of life.
The game also has a really great soundtrack that sets the mood for the game. It’s primarily composed of string instruments and has an incredibly ominous feel to it, and the music just sounds really well produced. Overall, the sound design for this game is really impressive and it definitely makes the game a lot more enjoyable.
Another thing I immediately noticed was how good the voice acting was. The 2 main characters voices fit their roles perfectly, and they are extremely well acted. Even the child voice actor that played Hugo did a fantastic job. The other character’s voices were good, but they weren’t as good as the main protagonist’s voices.
One issue I had was with the character development throughout the game. You definitely see Amicia and Hugo’s relationship progress, and you do get to know Lucas pretty well, but the game doesn’t give you a reason to care about the other characters. The twins are annoying with their constant bickering, and Rodrick is introduced too late in the game to be a meaningful part of it.
I wish there was more time speaking to the characters and learning their stories, so that the player has a reason to care about them.
One thing I need to mention is how horrible the AI is. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen AI this bad, and it’s really disappointing since a lot of the game relies on stealth. There’s one part of the game where you play as Hugo, and you’ll literally walk right next to enemies and they somehow don’t see you.
There were other times where an enemy looked directly at me and then quickly forgot he saw me. Because the stealth mechanic is so bad, I chose to kill almost every enemy I came across, and the game usually gives you ways to kill them.
A small detail I thought was cool is that enemy soldiers can accidentally kill each other.
Crafting / Alchemy
Throughout the game you’re able to upgrade your gear and inventory space using crafting tables and ingredients. Although they make the game a little bit easier, I found the upgrade system to be kinda pointless since you don’t need to upgrade anything to progress. The alchemy crafting system was actually pretty fun though.
Throughout the story you unlock various alchemy projectiles to help you survive. One projectile causes an enemy’s helmet to burn so that he takes it off, and that leaves him vulnerable to your slingshot.
Another potion will light fires and keep rats away, and it’s counterpart will put fires out so that you can feed enemies to the rats. I found the alchemy crafting to be really creative and it’s one of the best parts of the game. You never really run out of crafting ingredients since the game always gives you some when you need it, but you need to use it wisely or else it’ll result in death pretty quickly.
Buy or Pass?
So my final verdict is that the game is worth playing, even if it sounded like I mentioned a lot of negatives. The story is good and most of the gameplay is really fun. But, this game is normally way too expensive. It’s base price is $45, and at that price A Plague Tale is definitely a pass.
There’s only about 12 hours of gameplay in Plague Tale, so there’s no way I can justify paying $45 for it.
But, if you can get the game at $20 or less, I’d say the game is a buy. It’s an intriguing enough game and most people will enjoy the story. I had fun playing the game, so I think other people will too.