A Plague Tale: Innocence

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A Plague Tale: Innocence
A Plague Tale cover art.jpg
Developer(s)Asobo Studio
Publisher(s)Focus Home Interactive
Director(s)
  • David Dedeine
  • Kevin Choteau
Producer(s)
  • Brice Davin
  • Jamal Rguigui
Designer(s)Kevin Choteau
Programmer(s)Alain Guyet
Artist(s)Olivier Ponsonnet
Writer(s)Sébastien Renard
Composer(s)Olivier Deriviere
Platform(s)
ReleaseMay 14, 2019
Genre(s)Action-adventure, stealth, survival horror
Mode(s)Single-player

A Plague Tale: Innocence is an action-adventure horror 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.

Gameplay[edit]

In A Plague Tale: Innocence, the player assumes control of Amicia de Rune from a third-person perspective. For the majority of the game, players need to utilize stealth to avoid hostile encounters, as enemies will kill Amicia instantly if they catch her. Amicia is equipped with a sling that can throw rocks to break chains, create distractions, or stun guards long enough for the rats to ambush them; she can kill them with a headshot. Her sling also has the ability to throw many other things, some of which can start fires, put out fires, and attract rats to a certain location.[1] The game consists of a series of survival puzzles, mostly of methods to scare away or distract the hordes of hungry rats in order to gain access to new areas or direct them towards enemies. The primary method of warding rats off is fire, as they will seldom enter within a radius of burning torches and braziers. Amicia can 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.[2] Amicia's younger brother, Hugo, can be directed towards specific tasks when Amicia is busy. However, this is risky, as Hugo will start to panic if left alone and can attract unwanted attention. Later in the game, the player can assume control of Hugo, who cannot craft items but can control rats and sneak through small spaces. All these abilities are combined when the siblings unite in the late game to survive and beat the inquisition.

Plot[edit]

In late 1348, Amicia de Rune is a young girl of noble descent who lives with her family in Aquitaine, which has been invaded by the English Army during the Hundred Years' War. Her younger brother Hugo has been ill since birth; their mother, Beatrice, an alchemist, has locked him away in the family estate for years while trying to devise a cure. While hunting with her father Robert in the forest, Amicia encounters signs of blight, and her dog Lion is gruesomely consumed by an unseen entity. Inquisition troops led by Lord Nicholas arrive at the de Rune estate in search of Hugo, executing Robert and several servants. Beatrice helps her children escape and instructs Amicia to take Hugo to his doctor Laurentius, before the Inquisition apparently kills Beatrice. The children flee to a village, where they learn that hordes of ravenous rats have been spreading the black plague (known as the Bite) and devouring anything they come across.

Evading hostile villagers—who blame travelers for the plague—and Inquisition soldiers, Amicia and Hugo reach Laurentius's farm and find him bedridden after being bitten by a rat. Laurentius implores Amicia to finish her mother's work. Amicia and Hugo flee the rats with his apprentice Lucas to seek the hidden Château d'Ombrage, which once belonged to the de Rune family. As they evade the rats and invading English soldiers, Lucas explains that Hugo's blood carries a supernatural evil called the Prima Macula, which has lain dormant within certain noble bloodlines since the Plague of Justinian. Beatrice and Laurentius had been trying to find an elixir that would mitigate Hugo's symptoms, while Vitalis Benevent, the Grand Inquisitor seeks Hugo for the Macula. Hugo and Amicia are briefly captured, but escape with the help of sibling thieves Melie and Arthur; Arthur is captured as the others escape to Château d'Ombrage.

Lucas needs a forbidden book called the Sanguinis Itinera to complete the elixir that may help Hugo. Amicia infiltrates the university near Vitalis' Bastion (the Inquisition's headquarters, in a cathedral) to retrieve the book while Melie rescues Arthur. Amicia recovers the book and meets a young blacksmith named Rodric, who helps her escape. Arthur heard while imprisoned that Beatrice de Rune is in the Inquisition's custody. Amicia insists they not tell Hugo but he overhears the conversation, and his condition deteriorates. Amicia and Lucas return to the de Rune estate, looking for Beatrice's research. In a hidden laboratory in nearby Roman ruins they complete the elixir, and administer it to Hugo to alleviate his symptoms. Angry at his sister for not telling him the truth, Hugo runs away to the Inquisition to find Beatrice. Vitalis injects himself with Hugo's blood so that he can possess the power of the Macula, but Lucas's elixir has delayed its development.

Hugo escapes custody and finds Beatrice. Before their recapture, she reveals that the Macula gives him the power to control the rats. Vitalis wants the same power; defying church orders to stop, he tells his men that he wants to control the rats to end the plague, which will give Vitalis great political power. He threatens Beatrice's life to force Hugo's powers to fully awaken. Château d'Ombrage is attacked by a swarm of rats led by Lord Nicholas and Hugo, still angry at 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. With the Château no longer safe, the children decide that with the power of the rats, they can take the fight to the Inquisition and rescue Beatrice.

Rodric sacrifices himself to allow the others to reach the Bastion. Vitalis awaits their arrival, having bred thousands of white rats that only he can control. Vitalis and Hugo use their powers to send hordes of rats at each other until Amicia is able to kill Vitalis with her sling. Three days later, both the rats and the plague have disappeared and life begins to return to normal, although many remain wary of Hugo and his power including Melie, who leaves. Amicia, Hugo, Lucas, and an ailing Beatrice leave in search of a new home.

Development[edit]

The game's development was led by Asobo Studio. It is their first original title since the team created the racing game Fuel (2009), 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 A Plague Tale: Innocence is "family" and how the characters' relationships are challenged during adverse circumstances.[3] Another important theme is "innocence".[4] Hugo, in particular, will observe the player character's behaviors and slowly transform from an innocent boy to a ruthless individual.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

Publisher Focus Home Interactive announced the game in January 2017 as The Plague.[8] A first look game trailer appeared at E3 2017.[9] The game was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on May 14, 2019.[10]

Downloadable Content

The "Coats of Arms" DLC is available for all the three platforms, and came bundled with the pre-order version of the game. It adds three alternate skins for Amicia and Hugo's outfits and coats of arms. The additional content is cosmetic in nature.[11]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
MetacriticPC: 81/100[12]
PS4: 81/100[13]
XONE: 83/100[14]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid8/10[15]
GameRevolution3.5/5 stars[16]
GameSpot8/10[17]
GamesRadar+3.5/5 stars[18]
IGN7/10[19]
Jeuxvideo.com16/20[20]
PCGamesN8/10[21]
Screen Rant5/5 stars[22]
Windows Central4.5/5 stars[23]

According to review aggregator Metacritic, the game received "generally favorable reviews" from critics.[12][13] It was the ninth best-selling retail game in the UK in its week of release.[24] In July 2020, Focus Home announced that the game had sold more than 1 million copies.[25]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Result Ref
2019 2019 Golden Joystick Awards Best Audio Nominated [26]
Titanium Awards Game of the Year Nominated [27]
Best Art Nominated
Best Game Design Nominated
Best Narrative Design Nominated
Best Adventure Game Nominated
The Game Awards 2019 Best Narrative Nominated [28]
Steam Awards Outstanding Story-Rich Game Won [29]
2020 New York Game Awards Big Apple Award for Best Game of the Year Nominated [30]
Off Broadway Award for Best Indie Game Nominated
Herman Melville Award for Best Writing Nominated
NAVGTR Awards Animation, Artistic Nominated [31][32]
Animation, Technical Nominated
Art Direction, Period Influence Won
Camera Direction in a Game Engine Nominated
Control Design, 3D Nominated
Costume Design Nominated
Direction in a Game Cinema Nominated
Gameplay Design, New IP Nominated
Game, Original Adventure Won
Lighting/Texturing Nominated
Original Dramatic Score, New IP Nominated
Performance in a Drama, Lead (Charlotte McBurney) Won
Performance in a Drama, Supporting (Edan Hayhurst) Nominated
Performance in a Drama, Supporting (Tabitha Rubens) Nominated
Sound Editing in a Game Cinema Nominated
Sound Effects Nominated
Use of Sound, New IP Nominated
Writing in a Drama Won
Pégases Awards 2020 Best Game Won [33][34]
Best Artistic Design Won
Best Sound Design Won
Best Narrative Design Nominated
Best Game Design Won
Best Game Setting Won
Best Character Won
SXSW Gaming Awards Excellence in Narrative Nominated [35]
16th British Academy Games Awards Technical Achievement Nominated [36]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Delahunty-Light, Zoe (March 22, 2019). "A Plague Tale: Innocence is here to make you realise how much we've become used to death in video games". GamesRadar. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  2. ^ Favis, Elise (April 28, 2019). "Watch Eight Minutes Of New Gameplay From A Plague Tale: Innocence". Game Informer. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  3. ^ Valdes, Giancarlo (June 19, 2018). "How 'A Plague Tale: Innocence' Makes Diseased Rats So Terrifying". Variety. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  4. ^ Ramée, Jordan (January 25, 2019). "Survive The Black Death In A Plague Tale: Innocence, Coming This May". GameSpot. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  5. ^ Delahunty-Light, Zoe (February 16, 2018). "A Plague Tale: Innocence will have up to 5,000 man-eating rats simultaneously on screen... but you're the real monster here". GamesRadar. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  6. ^ Chalk, Andy (January 25, 2019). "A Plague Tale: Innocence video tells a tale of orphans in the time of the Black Death". PC Gamer. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  7. ^ Belzanne, Auerlie (May 9, 2019). "Asobo Studio details the tech behind getting thousands of vermin on screen simultaneously". PlayStation Blog. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  8. ^ Foxell, Sam (January 7, 2017). "Focus Home Interactive and Asobo Studios collaborate on new adventure game, The Plague". PCGamesN. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  9. ^ O'Connor, Alice (2018-08-22). "A Plague Tale: Innocence does indeed look like that one game with the brilliant rats". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  10. ^ Reiner, Andrew (January 24, 2019). "A Plague Tale: Innocence Launches This May". Game Informer. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  11. ^ "A Plague Tale: Innocence - Coats of Arms DLC on Steam". store.steampowered.com. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
  12. ^ a b "A Plague Tale: Innocence for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  13. ^ a b "A Plague Tale: Innocence for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  14. ^ "A Plague Tale: Innocence for Xbox One Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  15. ^ Moyse, Chris (May 20, 2019). "Review: A Plague Tale - Innocence". Destructoid. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  16. ^ Agnew, Callum (May 14, 2019). "A Plague Tale: Innocence Review | Oh, cruel world!". Game Revolution. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  17. ^ Khee Hoon Chan (May 13, 2019). "A Plague Tale: Innocence Review - A Sea Of Putrid Rats". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  18. ^ Zoe Delahunty-Light (May 13, 2019). "A Plague Tale: Innocence review: "There are glimmers of something special"". GamesRadar+. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  19. ^ Petite, Steven (May 13, 2019). "A Plague Tale: Innocence Review". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  20. ^ Carnbee (May 14, 2019). "Test de A Plague Tale : Innocence par jeuxvideo.com". Jeuxvideo.com. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  21. ^ Chris J Capel (May 14, 2019). "A Plague Tale: Innocence review – you'll want to catch this one". PCGamesN. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  22. ^ Burks, Robin (May 13, 2019). "A Plague Tale: Innocence Review - Heart Pounding and Emotional". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  23. ^ Lowry, Brendan (May 13, 2019). "A Plague Tale: Innocence PC review: A gripping stealth title that will keep you glued to your seat". Windows Central. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  24. ^ Dring, Christopher (May 20, 2019). "UK Charts: Rage 2 is No.1 but fails to match original". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  25. ^ Handrahan, Matthew (July 1, 2020). "A Plague Tale: Innocence reaches one million sales". Gameindustry.biz. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  26. ^ Tailby, Stephen (September 20, 2019). "Days Gone Rides Off with Three Nominations in This Year's Golden Joystick Awards". Push Square. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  27. ^ "Titanium Awards 2019". Fun & Serious Game Festival. Archived from the original on November 21, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  28. ^ Winslow, Jeremy (November 19, 2019). "The Game Awards 2019 Nominees Full List". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  29. ^ Watts, Steve (December 31, 2019). "Steam Awards 2019 Winners Announced". GameSpot. CBS Interactive.
  30. ^ Sheehan, Gavin (January 2, 2020). "The New York Game Awards Announces 2020 Nominees". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  31. ^ "2019 Nominees". National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers. January 13, 2020. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  32. ^ "2019 Winners". National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers. February 24, 2020. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  33. ^ "All the categories (2020)". Pégases Awards. February 7, 2020. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  34. ^ "Pégases 2020 : La liste des vainqueurs par catégorie". Jeuxvideo.com (in French). March 10, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  35. ^ Grayshadow (February 17, 2020). "2020 SXSW Gaming Awards Nominees Revealed". NoobFeed. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  36. ^ Stuart, Keith (March 3, 2020). "Death Stranding and Control dominate Bafta games awards nominations". The Guardian. Retrieved March 5, 2020.

External links[edit]