There’re a lot of rats to watch out for.
A Plague Tale: Innocence from Asobo Studios was a complete surprise at E3 2017, and one of the best looking games on the show floor. It is game centered around escaping a tower swarming with rats. This infestation is not your only enemy, you’ll also have to worry about the Inquisition; and they will do anything to get to you. With the moody atmosphere of the Middle Age in France, it’s easy to get caught up in this risky adventure that’s sure to pack a punch. But what else lies beyond the walls, and how far away is the freedom you so desperately seek?
A Plague Tale: Innocence is a third-person action-adventure/survival-horror game with variations in puzzles and has very strong stealth elements. This is 1349, France — it is the Middle Ages and the peak of the Black Death. It centers on two young children: Amicia, a 14 year old girl who watched over her eight-year-old brother Hugo. This is the time of the Inquisition, so Amicia and Hugo are trying to escape the wrath of this heresy as well as the rat infestation. For this video preview we were allowed to see the two children trying to escape the rat plague inside a massive tower, while discovering the right path to the way out.
"The architecture of A Plague Tale is unlike anything I’ve seen before."
The first thing that usually comes to mind when seeing a game with an A.I. co-op partner is that the character’s cooperation is usually terrible. What we see from the preview is a little more cooperation than a standard lame A.I. character that always walks into walls. As you control Amicia, you’ll be able to see fluid movements of Hugo (the A.I. partner), and also see how he interacts without you having to guide him every inch of the way. We’re not sure yet if you’ll be able to switch between partners, but it seems like there are several scenarios where doing so would come in handy. As you make your way through this massive towering building, there will be opportunities to get both characters to interact with the environment. There weren’t many puzzles within the video preview to note, but we see some stealth elements such as Amicia hitting a lantern with a stone to distract the guards to help her progress further along. Additionally, Amicia will be able to throw rocks as weapons, and sneak between shadows to avoid the Inquisition. Furthermore, avoiding the massive swarms of rats will be achieved by lanterns or other lighting that keep these nocturnal animals as bay.
The architecture of A Plague Tale is unlike anything I’ve seen before. Borrowing deeply from the exact architecture of the 14th century, the foundation on which this game exists is magnificent. The Gothic layers give a foreboding tale of their own of danger and death. The heavy lighting effects within the structure dampens all hope of survival, and really adds an eerie spin to the atmosphere. Just make sure you don’t stay in the dark too long. Rats infest the dark, and alone they don’t do much; but when they work together and create a sea of rodents… well, good luck. Transitions between weather will occur, but will not be dynamic. There will be heavy rain and winds that attack the internal structure, throwing off certain game elements along the way.
"Overall, A Plague Tale: Innocence is certainly a game to look out for. Its dark atmosphere weighs heavy psychologically, and it feels almost hopeless once you’re inside."
As rats build up, it becomes a puzzle to avoid them. Using light can help alleviate the stress of crossing paths and sneaking around Inquisition soldiers. There will be times when rats will even attack the enemies and leave the game wide open for different types of scenarios. You’ll see hundreds, maybe thousands of onscreen rats all at the same time, and all moving around trying to cause havoc. This is where the game looks the most intriguing. Seeing all of these rats at once is really amazing and it makes understanding the area that much more challenging. Figuring out just how to get from one place to the other looks to be a lot of fun.
Amicia and Hugo are beautifully modeled in the game and their innocent child demeanor is unique. You can see the movements of a child in their actions. They won’t be hustling down the halls like gun-toting heroes. These children are scared, and they just want to go home. This also brings up the topic of violence. There will not be much violence towards these kids in the game. The game ends, but not in any bloody sort of way.
Overall, A Plague Tale: Innocence is certainly a game to look out for. Its dark atmosphere weighs heavy psychologically, and it feels almost hopeless once you’re inside.