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A Plague Tale: Innocence Review

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14th century Europe was a challenging time for citizens.  The Catholic church was rampant in a quest to thwart heresy resulting in punishment, torture, and excommunication.  If you were targeted by the inquisitors you may be forced to leave your home, your town, or even this life.  Also during this time came several versions of the plague, specifically in England the bubonic plague that introduced a specific bacteria into the bloodstream resulting in painful boils, fever, and eventually death over only a handful of days.  The bubonic plague traveled easily in England throughout the mid 1300s via fleas living on rats, which found their way into living quarters thanks to early sewer systems and poor ventilation.  Needless to say once an outbreak occurred in your area, the death of many was eminent.  It is during this dangerous time for any living creature, especially children, that A Plague Tale: Innocence begins.

Video games have always seemed to handle story in a largely dichotomous way: either story is everything and gameplay suffers for it or gameplay is king and the story can be forfeit if need be.  A Plague Tale: Innocence is therefore a rare treat because it prioritizes the story and builds the gameplay mechanics around it, seemingly sacrificing little in the balance.  This wouldn’t be possible were it not for the plot, dialogue, and gorgeous visuals that introduce protagonist Amicia, a teenage daughter to an English lord, and her five-year-old brother Hugo.  Once the story is established and the realities of the world begin, the adventure adapts to the story that’s being told.  If you need to run from the pursuant Inquisition, you will be greeted with an action-heavy sequence whereas if you’re trying to sneak by them, stealth sequences become necessary.  This pattern continues to create a myriad of different gameplay mechanics to move the story along.  Even in sequences that have little to no gameplay, where you are simply traversing an area during a rare moment of safety, the steady banter between characters keeps it feeling alive.  There are even moments where you discover new circumstances or information along with your characters, but only when you migrate the pair or the camera to be able to see it, which made these discoveries feel like one of the entire group – both the on screen characters and the player alike.

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Written by Fred Rojas

May 16, 2019 at 11:00 am