Enter the world of France in the 14th century and find a way to escape the plague.
At last year’s E3 I saw A Plague Tale Innocence by the developers at Asobo Studio, and I was more than excited to get my hands on it whenever it was to launch. Its dark atmosphere set the mood for the 14th century, Gothic-style structure, where the windows bled in the moon’s light, and fires raged against the deep-bronze colored walls that appeared to be melting into the floorboards. Sadly, at this year’s E3, the demo wasn’t quite as interesting and didn’t showcase as much. What it did show was no where on the level of last year’s demo, but it did shed a few tidbits on some aspects of the game.
A Plague Tale Innocence is a story about a young girl named Amicia de Runes who’s on the run with her little brother Hugo, trying to escape the war and escape the plague. This is a single player only experience, which means you’ll be escorting Hugo around as Amicia, and every move will be your own. Through whatever vile plains of of filth that drench the streets and fields of France you traverse, it will be your job to get Hugo to safety through whatever means necessary.
During this year’s presentation, we find Amicia in a field- as I said, the presentation wasn’t as eye-popping as last year. The field looks to be like something like a battlefield, or possibly a rebellion of sorts. Bodies lie around everywhere atop the dirt and prairie weeds that stretch on forever; death is everywhere. Clouds are setting in all around, as monumental structures fade into the haze of the eerie field. Pools of water have formed from previous rains, but some of those pools are also thick and red with blood from this lost battle. It’s impossible to tell who won, who lost. Maybe both sides did.
"The Light is good. Stay in the light. Torches line the prairie, one every so many feet lights the ground under the cloud canopy. The rats are coming for them."
Amicia holds her brother Hugo’s hand as they run through the field, trying to cross the prairie, looking for freedom from the ravages of war. As they briskly step over the downed men and their shields and their swords and spears, they’re confused; they just want to be safe and happy as all kids would like. Ahead of them is a horse, spearheaded to the ground on its side, still alive, struggling to get up. But it can’t get up. Amicia walks closer to see if she can help, just as the stomach of the horse begins to gyrate and pulse, harder, faster, wobbling unnaturally in every known direction. Then BOOM! Its stomach bursts open like a great explosive. But guts and organs don’t fall out. Instead, a swarm of rats, hungry for more, charges out and toward Amicia and Hugo.
The Light is good. Stay in the light. Torches line the prairie, one every so many feet lights the ground under the cloud canopy. The rats are coming for them. They’re weaponless, they have no means of attack. They’re only children. They run to the closest torch and relish in its warm glow as the rats continue their rampage toward the innocent children. And just as they approach, the light reflects the rats away like a barrier from the gods. The key is to avoid the rats by staying in the light.
Later on we find a man roaming the field with a lantern in his hand. He’s safe to roam around freely with that lantern, as long as it stays lit. It’s impossible for Amicia and Hugo to pass the man without getting caught by him or running into the rats. Amicia may not be able to attack, but she does have a slingshot. Her objective is to target the man’s lantern with a rock from the ground and break his lantern. She charges the slingshot, twists it around, then catapults it out and bullseyes the lantern. The lantern shatters as it hits the ground, and the rats swarm the man who no longer has safety from the light. We learn that Amicia’s slingshot is one of the very few accessories she has to get around the map without actually being able to attack or do much damage herself. It’s an inventive way to go about escorting Hugo safely, and we also learn that it can be used on the field to lower a beam to cross a field swarming with rats.
"Amicia holds her brother Hugo’s hand as they run through the field, trying to cross the prairie, looking for freedom from the ravages of war. As they briskly step over the downed men and their shields and their swords and spears, they’re confused; they just want to be safe and happy as all kids would like."
In these new ways I can see a little bit of changes to the game from I saw last year. A Plague Tale Innocence is certainly shaping up to look like a great game. Through two years of previews, however, it doesn’t seem to have a vast array of ideas that will make the game a contender for game of the year. It should, though, be something that will be fun for the short while it lasts. I’ll be looking forward to the release of this game, hoping to get a better look at France from the 14th century, and discover how Amicia and Hugo will escape the plague.