To say I’ve been excited for this is an understatement.
After getting hands on with A Plague Tale back in February I’ve been eagerly waiting for its full release – which is finally here.
Set in 14th century France, during a time of inquisitions, plague and poverty, you take control of young Amicia on the run with brother Hugo after a raid at their family home.
The emotionally-charged opening chapters set the tone for the rest of the game. The developers have created a bleak, oppressive and brutal world for the two young children to navigate.
There are moments of light however, like the simple act of Hugo placing a flower behind your character’s ear, really show these are just innocent children forced into this horrific experience.
Having to keep your little brother safe adds a unique dimension. His small size allows him to access areas and help clear paths – but at the same time every moment and action needs to be considered as you help climb obstacles in the environment.
The connection with Hugo isn’t something that’s been shoe-horned in either, there’s a true strong emotive connection created through the story as both your character and him struggle with fear, stress and anguish, being forced to grow up fast in a unbelievably hostile world.
Puzzle solving and stealth exploration is a real focal point in the game.
The simple mechanics don’t particularly break new ground, but the execution is spot on, every single time.
Tall grass and overturned tables provide the perfect hiding spots to avoid maurding soldiers, while a slingshot and the classic easily breakable pot provide a method of distraction – and eventually as you progress – the ability to kill.
Fitting with the stunning narrative created by the writers, the choice to kill, or allow someone to be killed will take a toll on Amicia that becomes clearer as you progress through the story.
It’s not just soldiers you will need to avoid, there’s also the rats.
Lots and lots of rats.
They’ll rush out of the ground, out of every nook and cranny in a building in a tidal wave of fur, tails and glowing red eyes.
Keeping them at bay with fire and light, or creating distractions in the form of hanging meat, live animals – and even people – for them to eat is vital as you seek to progress.
Shooting down a brazier or starting a new fire, will create a pool of light to drive away the rats and clearing a path.
However, using their flesh-eating tendencies can be used offensively, like destroying a patrolling soldiers lamp before watching them devour him alive.
A crafting mechanic allows you to upgrade your character allowing you to wield a more powerful slingshot, carry more items, or revamp your clothes to allow you to sneak better. This encourages you to explore and search the environment, however, this to me is the weakest area of the game.
Overall, A Plague Tale is a masterclass in both game design and storytelling.
You generate a true connection with the characters as you navigate the 10-hour story, exploring a stunningly created world complete with rundown villages, imposing forests and scenes of horrific slaughter as you dodge the Inquisition and horrifying rodents.
Considering this game has been created a team of just 45, it’s clear to see they’ve pour their heart and soul into this, and results are fantastic.
Incredible attention to detail has been paid to all aspects of this game, from the story, the voice-acting (best in the native French), design and graphics – all of which combine to create moments of true fear and suspense.
If there’s one game you’re going to pick up this month – make it A Plague Tale.
Rating is based on the Xbox version of the game played on an Xbox One X.