Get ready to walk with rats.
Many interesting games graced the carpet of this year’s E3, but there was something interesting about developer Asobo Studio’s A Plague Tale: Innocence. A game of two children locked away in an old building surrounded by thousands of on-screen rats and the inquisition. With the right path to find and a puzzling challenge to figure out just how to get out, it’s up these two children to escape.
Having to walk through swarms of disease infested rats is no easy task. Taking influence from 14th century French architecture, with the creepy darkness and shadows to go along with it, we had to find out more. We had a chance to talk with Chief Creative Officer David Dedeine to find out what lies behind the creepy walls of this foreboding game.
How interactive is the atmosphere in Plague Tale?
It’s really more about…so for example, will have things like interacting with the traps, which have been made for the rats. And interact with sometimes even the background. The environment will be important but I would say the core of the gameplay is more articulated around at the inquisition on one side, and rats on the other.
The game’s aesthetic is grim but unique. What influences did you look to for properly capturing 14th century France?
So first, we are French and we are in a town in France where we still have buildings of this period of time. When we were thinking about this game, it was a great source of inspiration of something we know is different. Maybe some developers don’t have access to this architecture. So it’s important. It’s all over the place in the area we are located. Its something we wanted to share basically.
How many missions will be available?
It’s more like chapters of a story. We will have around 12 chapters.
"The story is basically linear. There is no branching. We really want to tell a great story. This tale, this nightmare needs to reach the public, talk to the public. We will not try to branch much, we try to focus on this [linear] path."
The central theme focuses on innocence and doing what’s necessary to survive in Plague Tale. Will players’ decisions to kill influence the overall course of the story and the ending?
It doesn’t influence the course in a sense where you will not change the ending of the game. The story is basically linear. There is no branching. We really want to tell a great story. This tale, this nightmare needs to reach the public, talk to the public. We will not try to branch much, we try to focus on this [linear] path.
What are some of the tasks players will have to perform? Is the game primarily focused on stealth and sneaking past patrols?
It’s a mix. It’s still an action-adventure game. So you will have sneak phases, we will have action phases, and also puzzle mechanics.
Given the grotesque nature of the game’s set-up, what influenced the creation of the two protagonists?
It’s really about playing with this huge contrast. Sort of a paradox between the innocent, and the fact that the relation between the two is special, it’s fragile. They are kids. In front of that we put something crude, brutal and dark [characters]. It’s really the way we wanted to fuel the game, I would say.
Can you tell us about some of the puzzles in-games, including the use of light to clear a path through the swarms of rats?
As you can guess, you will have to basically take advantage of the rats against the Inquisition in some cases, or the Inquisition against the rats. All of this will be twisted with elements like, how the wind can interfere with this, how the rain can affect the environment, or the daylight among other things.
Is there any sort of customization in Plague Tale?
Not really. We will have a crafting layer that will allow the character to react differently with the rats, and sometimes with the Inquisition. I don’t want to talk to much about that right now. But that’s basically the idea.
What kind of skills and abilities will the character have? Is there a skills tree?
Sort of. I would not call it an actual skill tree. The type of artifacts you can craft will drive the way you play. It’s not an RPG. It’s more of an adventure game. So there is no character skill tree, but more choices based on what you craft, and what to keep, what you use.
Will the game feature Xbox One X specific enhancements? What can players expect if they are playing the game on Xbox One X? Is 4K/60fps on the cards?
Sure. We will be 4K ready.
On PS4 Pro also?
"We’ve done the math, and had all sorts of discussions with Focus Home Interactive. So maybe will try, but right now the discussion we’ve had with the publisher was to not make Switch the priority."
From a development perspective, how do you find the Xbox One X to be? With so much GPU power, we are sure you must be doing some amazing things.
It’s awesome. It gives us a real…as the game was already running on classic Xbox, or classic PlayStation, suddenly you’ve got this power which comes as a bonus. Suddenly you can push the limit quite easily further. They are spectacular machines. Really good hardware. And you can already feel it.
What will the frame rate and resolution on the base Xbox One and PS4 for Plague Tale?
We aim for 30 FPS on Pro and Xbox One X. On the original systems we don’t know yet.
Do you have any plans to bring the game to the Switch? If not can you tell us why? Is it due to its weak processing power?
No. I will not lie by just saying…power. It’s really the power of the device. In this case it was the amount of rats we need to display. We already know that there’s too many rats, too many animations, too many AI at the same time. And if we want to give justice to – it’s like there is a large bridge between [it and ] Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro. And the Switch, it was too hard to make the same game in such a different context.
Did you attempt to get the game onto the Nintendo Switch?
We’ve done the math, and had all sorts of discussions with Focus Home Interactive. So maybe will try, but right now the discussion we’ve had with the publisher was to not make Switch the priority.