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Awards

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You Might Like

  • A stunning world
  • Fast-paced throughout
  • Adaptive skill-tree

Might Not Like

  • Repetitive in parts
  • Reliance on the rats
  • Poor sound quality
Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

A Plague Tale: Requiem Review

a plague tale Requiem -video game of the month

At the beginning of A Plague Tale: Requiem, an animated title screen welcomes the player to the game. Black, oily rats infest the foreground, writhing about unconsciously malicious and a shipwreck — similar to the one in the trailer — occupies a rock on the right side. The ship is attached to the rock by an awful web of decaying Macula and embers eat away at the mast. There’s a story being told here: will this be their fate?

A choral, Game of Thrones style soundtrack implies a sense of finality and of the battle ahead. This feels like the endgame. The title, the setting of the scene and the music all hint towards an ending filled with struggle.

The mast creaks, then falls and the screen cuts to The Kingdom of France, 1349 — only this is a different France, a vibrant southern Mediterranean France. Amicia and Hugo fled their homeland from the inquisition. They are hoping to learn more about the Macula (a sickness) that courses through Hugo’s veins.

A Barrage Of Scenery

I played the first game on a PC and the graphics were sublime; there is a definite dip in their quality on the Series S. This is to be expected of course. Sadly, the game is limited to 30fps on consoles.

Although some of the sheen is missing, the textures and backgrounds are still satisfying and the world is accurate, period-specific and immersive. I say this as a part-time Medievalist. The excellent voice acting lured me back into the world created in A Plague Tale: Innocence and reminded me of the story so far. It felt as though nothing had changed with these characters, like seeing an old friend again. Despite the quality of the voice acting, the implementation is poor. It sounds as though they are speaking in a room.

The ruined medieval landscape is significant. The 1500s denotes an estimated end of the Middle Ages. Already, castles and fortifications were being abandoned because of their military insufficiency and the advancement of weaponry. The boundaries of rulers and their needs were forever shifting.

The Second Coming

Whilst playing a game together both Amicia and Hugo fall through a wooden floor and they stumble upon a scene that brings back memories of their previous experiences. The tone of the game shifts from playful to sombre as they overlook a torched, ashen landscape. One they have become familiar with. Eerie music and haunting horns resound and they attempt to flee the wasted remnants of the castle.

A man wearing a trunkless plague doctor garb can be seen hacking away at a dead body. The inquisitorial paranoia is palpable as he threatens them both, calling them liars. There’s a hunt taking place and there’s a clear division between the condemned and the enforcers. The brutal scene is reminder of what normal people are capable of when threatened with an existential crisis. This is where the story begins: another decent into a world the de Rune’s thought they had left behind.

Variations On A Theme

The character movement is much the same and the basic mechanics of the game haven’t changed. The combat has been expanded to include a crossbow, which can eliminate armoured enemies and a new tar mixture for the slingshot can be crafted, which increases the radius of braziers. The stealth continues to be fast-paced because of having to constantly be on the move. This is echoed in Amicia words: ‘they’ll find us, we have to keep going’.

The stealth areas of the game are larger and allow for a flexible approach, but anything other than stealth can feel janky: get knocked down, counter, stab (if you have a knife — another new addition). Unlike the first game, players aren’t killed immediately if they’re discovered. Instead, players have a chance to engage in a melee, which acts as a get out of jail free card in some situations, especially if other enemies haven’t been alerted. Hugo can use an echo ability to see enemies through walls, which improves the effectiveness of stealth and he can control hordes to overwhelm enemies. These powers come back later in the game.

Amicia automatically evolves depending on the play style of the player and the system actually works. In previous reviews I’ve mentioned my distaste for unrestricted skill-trees. I’ve been using stealth and Amicia’s ‘Prudence’ skills are improving but the ‘Aggressive’ and ‘Opportunism’ skillsets haven’t increased at all. This was the best addition to the game and made me feel like I was being rewarded for playing in a particular way. Many games could learn from this system.

Puzzles involving the rats are reused; the evolved variety can even crawl up walls! Although the rats feature heavily, navigating through the levels is enjoyable. The additional puzzles are not. At one point, the puzzle is even explained to the player and the slingshot is used to conveniently turn symbols on a wall. It’s new mechanics like these that feel forced.

A Puppet Without String

Compared to the first game, the action sequences are choreographed for maximum energy and are desynchronised from the narrative. After each ‘close encounter’ the party returns to a bucolic setting. This contrasts to the extreme emotions they experience when something serious happens. From flaming fields and a near death experience, to a quaint village where they act as though they haven’t just killed people. Amicia’s mother Beatrice is aloof and characterless, seemingly led by these children on an adventure.

NPC dialogue is frequently hackneyed. Some of the things they say relates to a modern idiom. I would have preferred it if more research had been done on what kinds of conversations people would have had during the Middle Ages. I’m pretty sure they didn’t say, ‘let me restyle your hair for you’ or ‘look how fresh this fish is, its fins are still flapping’. The effect here is a loss of immersion.

I’m unsure about the evolution of the story. The Macula was interesting in the first game but the emphasis around finding a cure, gaining more knowledge, the balance of Hugo’s blood and second thresholds is too much for a game set towards the end of the Middle Ages. I never convinced by Hugo’s plight.

The majestic scenery and confident world-building are a serious joy to behold. Using photo mode I could see the details of Asobo's environments. They are intricate even where they don’t have to be. As a linear game the developers could have got away with reducing the amount of space they built into. However, the fact there is a photo mode tells me they want players to see their creation from afar. Navigating in photo mode is easy and virtual touring is a pleasure.

The Missing Link

A Plague Tale: Requiem is a wonderful game. It furthers the intrigue of the first game but it doesn’t do much else. Regardless of the minor adjustments to combat there’s nothing different other than the setting and the story — a gorgeous world and an enjoyable story nonetheless. For those who haven’t played the first and don’t want to, A Plague Tale: Requiem is accessible. The story is easily comprehended and can be played without playing A Plague Tale: Innocence.

The choreography of the enemies and their routines create ample tension. Playing the game is fun and it moves at a constant pace; a reflection of the plague that forever ‘tails’ them. A Plague Tale: Requiem is a professional: it’s a perfect example of a game that does a lot right and never offends. The main criticism I have is precisely this lack of ambition. It’s a safe game, a safe experience that delivers a safe play-through.

That concludes our thoughts on A Plague Tale: Requiem. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames. To buy A Plague Tale: Requiem today click here!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You might like

  • A stunning world
  • Fast-paced throughout
  • Adaptive skill-tree

Might not like

  • Repetitive in parts
  • Reliance on the rats
  • Poor sound quality

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