Release Date : 18 October 2022
Developer(s) : Asobo Studio
Publisher(s) : Focus Entertainment
Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch
After an amazing episode in May 2019, we were excited to discover A Plague Tale Requiem. A sequel worthy of it?
In 2019, we were able to discover the adventures of Hugo and Amicia back in 1348, in France which was ravaged by the Hundred Years’ War and which was hit by the beginning of the Black Death epidemic which killed 25 million people. The game had the brilliance to make rats a physical materialization of the disease, as a deadly metaphor.
A PLAGUE TALE REQUIEM, A MAGNIFICENT CREATION
Without going into all the scriptural details to avoid spoilers, just know that we still play as Amicia and her little brother Hugo, children of the Lord of Rune. The ride of Edward III (the military campaign of the King of England) has just ended one year ago and the vassals of the King of France are in expectation, while the Plague has ravaged the armies, cities, and villages. Following the scenario from the first game, we leave the landscapes of Guyenne to focus on the southern regions of the Kingdom of France, especially the roads of Occitania such as the Pink City.
This is an opportunity to explore typical and much sunnier landscapes from the beginning of the game, with its typical fields and its famous lavender. A Plague Tale Requiem is therefore a great way for the developers to play with contrasts, to alternate between dark themes (the constant disease and death) and the great sweetness of the landscapes and their warm atmosphere. It is this stunning contrast, like Midsommar, that allows us to better understand the plunge into horror that our heroes will experience and at the same time a whole population, from the richest lord to the most miserable peasant.
From the very first minutes, we witness a real demonstration of Asobo studio’s expertise in terms of art and technique. It’s simple, and beautiful. The game passes a new milestone compared to 2019, everything is a perfect match, whether for the beautiful art direction, the breathtaking technique or the coherent and intelligent level design. The environment serves the story and vice versa, it’s hard to find flaws as the game will catch your attention from the first hour of play. The PC version also offers the luxury of DLSS to overcome the most demanding areas and ensure a framerate that doesn’t drop off into the abyss. However, we didn’t touch the console versions.
THE CONTRASTS OF OCCITANIA
Just like in the previous title, the game offers us the smart gameplay of the character duo, essential to progress in the environments. In the beginning, our companion Lucas, an alchemist’s apprentice, allows us to get out of tricky situations thanks to his great knowledge of herbs. And that’s obviously without counting the various cranks to be operated by two people to hoist a portcullis, open a gate, or simply slip through a winding path. Thus, A Plague Tale Requiem never gives us the impression of being alone, but always with two people, since the game is designed so that the progression is impossible otherwise.
A NICE PROGRESSION CURVE
And this obligation of the duo is obviously a great opportunity to enhance the writing and the story by making the characters more and more engaging. If we already knew it thanks to the first episode, this sequel, which starts in the company of Lucas, is the occasion to see how much Amicia loves her brother Hugo and that she is ready to all sacrifices to save him from his curse. Even the worst possible things. Our young warrior is more skilled than ever with her slingshot, and if in most situations Requiem requires a heavy dose of infiltration, there are times when killing is the only available option. And every death is never pointless in A Plague Tale, which is what makes the characters so human and the game so realistic in its philosophical approach to human life. To kill or survive, she has several strings to her bow (no pun intended). For example, it is possible to extinguish the torches of opponents from a distance by throwing a stone or a jar of an antifire concoction. There are always workshops at regular intervals in the scenery to significantly improve your equipment. There are 3 lines of progression: Caution, Aggression and Opportunity. Each one allows you to move towards action or pure infiltration. In Aggression, for example, Amicia can literally push an enemy to the ground in the middle of the rats…
THE BEGINNINGS OF HORROR
Shortly, the landscapes of Occitania will turn into a nightmare and our heroes will soon come across the hordes of rats, which was already the salt of the first game. You should know that for this sequel, the number of rats displayed, already quite substantial in the first game, is multiplied by 60. This leads to terrifying scenes like World War Z where mounds of rats climb on top of each other to access certain areas, sometimes moving in waves. A new proof that the game engine has something to satisfy also any horror lover. Moreover, Requiem does not go easy on the gore, with its share of skinned, disarticulated or devoured corpses by groups of rats, always more numerous and voracious.
A QUALITY INFILTRATION
Infiltration is even more exciting as it is sometimes necessary to juggle between the fear of being spotted by a soldier and the fear of being eaten by rats if you don’t manage the surrounding light well enough. Because yes, the only weakness of rats besides food is light/fire. It will therefore be necessary to constantly analyze your environment to understand how to reach or bring light. A Plague Tale Requiem is engaging, stressful, agonizing but above all insanely exhilarating. With its constant attention to detail, Asobo succeeds in always having something to say or show for the right reason. Nothing is free in A Plague Tale and this new opus is the proof of an undeniable expertise for the video game. If Requiem is not a revolution compared to Requiem, it is the logical and necessary progression to a story worthy of an excellent movie or novel. As an added bonus, the game is longer than its predecessor, which means a few more hours of pleasure.
A MASTERPIECE FROM A TO Z
It’s hard to say more without going into spoilers, but just know that A Plague Tale Requiem is a narrative and adventure experience that you have to live. It has the added bonus of charming both your eyes and ears, with exceptional music that will only fill your heart with emotion. The soundtrack is brilliant from start to finish and you can’t imagine a better way to follow the tragic destiny of Hugo and Amicia.
A Plague Tale Requiem is a true poetic and beautiful experience. Like a poet’s writing, the game charms us with death and horror. It’s a real videogame experience, touching, almost overwhelming in its story, and visually and musically impressive. Not to mention a quality infiltration gameplay that is both stressful and oppressive, finding the right balance between ease and difficulty. A masterpiece, quite simply.