A Plague Tale: Innocence
|A Plague Tale: Innocence|
|Publisher(s)||Focus Home Interactive|
|Release||May 14, 2019|
A Plague Tale: Innocence is an action-adventure stealth game developed by Asobo Studio and published by Focus Home Interactive. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in May 2019, and received generally positive reviews from critics.
Amicia de Rune lives with her father Robert, her mother Beatrice, and brother Hugo as nobles in rural Aquitaine. Hugo has been ill since birth, and Beatrice, an alchemist, has locked him away in the family estate for years looking for a way to cure him. While hunting with Robert in the forest, Amicia encounters signs of a blight, and her dog Lion is gruesomely consumed by an unseen entity. They hurry back to the de Rune estate, but troops from the Inquisition led by Lord Nicholas arrive and raid the estate in search of Hugo, executing Robert. Beatrice instructs Amicia to take Hugo to his doctor Laurentius before she is apparently killed.
Amicia and Hugo flee through a nearby village, where they learn that hordes of ravenous rats have been spreading plague and devouring anything they come across. Evading hostile villagers and soldiers, Amicia and Hugo reach Laurentius' farm, but he is bedridden by the plague. When Laurentius' house catches fire, Amicia and Hugo flee with his apprentice Lucas to seek the hidden Château d'Ombrage.
As they evade the Inquisition, the rats, and invading English soldiers, Lucas explains that Hugo's blood carries a supernatural power called the Prima Macula. Beatrice and Laurentius had been trying to find a cure, while the Grand Inquisitor Vitalis covets its power. They are assisted by the sibling thieves Melie and Arthur, but Arthur is captured before the remainder make it to the Château d’Ombrage.
Lucas reveals that he needs a forbidden book called the Sanguinis Itinera to complete the elixir that may cure the Macula. Amicia infiltrates the nearby university to retrieve the Sanguinis Itinera while Melie heads off to rescue Arthur. Amicia recovers the book and rescues a young blacksmith named Rodric, who helps her escape. They reunite at the castle with Melie and Arthur, who reveals that he witnessed Beatrice in the Inquisition's custody. Amicia insists they not tell Hugo, who has overheard the conversation. When Hugo's condition deteriorates, Amicia and Lucas return to the De Rune estate, looking for answers in Beatrice's research. They complete the elixir and administer it to Hugo, relieving his symptoms. However, Hugo then runs away and turns himself over to the Inquisition to find Beatrice, leaving Amicia riddled with guilt.
Vitalis injects himself with Hugo's blood so that he too can possess the power of the Macula. Hugo manages to escape custody and finds Beatrice, who reveals that the Macula gives him the power to control the rats. Unfortunately, Beatrice and Hugo are recaptured, and Vitalis threatens Beatrice's life in an attempt to force Hugo's powers to fully awaken. A month later, the Château d’Ombrage is suddenly attacked by a swarm of rats led by Lord Nicholas and Hugo, who is embittered against Amicia. Nicholas kills Arthur and orders Hugo to kill Amicia, but she reconciles with Hugo and they work together to overwhelm Nicholas with the rats before he falls through the floor, leaving his fate unknown. The children decide that with the power of the rats they can take the fight to the Inquisition.
The children head for the cathedral, where the Inquisition has set up its headquarters. Rodric sacrifices himself to allow the others to reach the cathedral, where Vitalis is waiting, having bred thousands of rats that answer only to him. Vitalis and Hugo use their Macula powers to send hordes of rats at each other until Amicia is able to kill Vitalis. Three days later, both the rats and the plague have disappeared, and life begins to return to normal, although there is a lingering fear towards Hugo in the village. Melie parts ways with the group, and Amicia, Hugo, Lucas, and an ailing Beatrice head towards the harbor to seek a new life.
In the game, the player assumes control of Amicia from a third-person perspective. For the majority of the game, combat is avoided and instead, players need to utilize stealth to avoid hostile encounters. Amicia is equipped with a sling which can throw rocks to break drawbridge chains or stun guards long enough for the rats to ambush them, or even kill them with a headshot. The game is a series of survival puzzles, mostly consisting of methods to scare away or distract the hordes of hungry rats in order to gain access to new areas, or direct them towards murderous knights. The main method of scaring rats off is fire, as rats will seldom enter within a radius of burning torches and braziers. She can also craft special ammunition and supplies, which include fire-starting sulfur stones that ignite braziers, stink bombs that attract rats, or fire suppressants to extinguish torches carried by enemies. The younger brother can be directed towards specific tasks when Amicia is busy. Later in the game the player can assume control of the younger brother, who cannot craft items but is able to control rats and sneak through small spaces. All these abilities are combined when the siblings unite in the late game.
The game's development was led by Asobo Studio. It was their first original title since the team created the racing game Fuel in 2008, and the company wanted to create a narrative-driven experience inspired by The Last of Us and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. The main theme of the game was "family" and how the characters' relationships were challenged during adverse circumstances. Another important theme is "innocence". Hugo, in particular, will observe the player character's behaviors and slowly transform from an innocent boy to a ruthless individual. Child actors Charlotte McBurney and Logan Hannan provided their voice for Amicia and Hugo respectively. The two also participated in the writing process by suggesting changes to dialogue and alternative takes. Up to 5,000 rats can appear on-screen simultaneously. To ensure the game can handle rendering so many enemies without sacrificing performance, the team introduced four layers of details when rendering the rats, in which rats furthest away from the player character exist as a "background, non-animated mesh", whereas the rats closest to the player are animated in detail.
Publisher Focus Home Interactive first announced the game in January 2017 as The Plague. A first look game trailer appeared at E3 2017. The game was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on May 14, 2019.
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