A Plague Tale Innocence (Review) Xbox One

A Plague Tale Innocence (Review) Xbox One
Review Score:

For those of you who recall my previous review for RIOT: Civil Unrest, know that I was taken by surprise, by a game that ended up being different from what I had originally imagined.  I didn’t think another game could possibly raise the bar like that, but A Plague Tale: Innocence by Focus Home Interactive did just that; and even more so.

APT: I puts you in the midst of 14th century Black Plague-ridden France, while aiming to provide a heart-wrenching story of two siblings — Amicia De Rune and her younger brother, Hugo — who are struggling to survive history’s darkest hours.  French developer, Asobo Studio, puts you in the midst of quite the ambitious battle against an array of adversaries; most notably your emotions.  And as the story plays out around you, you are forced to make hard choices that leave you stunned and speechless more often times than not.

Amicia lives an almost tranquil and relaxed life during these darker times. She’s the daughter of a knight who is a minor noble, and she lives on a country estate, and spends her time in the woods with her father, learning to hunt with a sling. However, all is not quite as perfect for the young girl. On the flipside of things, Hugo seems to be stricken with a rather mysterious blood disease, and Amicia’s mother has devoted her life to studying alchemy, in an attempt to hopefully discover a cure.  As if things weren’t getting bad enough, the Inquisition arrives. They are desperate to capture Hugo, and slaughter everyone at the estate while on the hunt for him.  The siblings manage to luckily escape — thus their quest to avoid/escape the Inquisition and find Hugo’s cure begins.

The moment you set foot into the world of APT: I, the first thing you’ll immediately notice is just how beautiful the game looks. I could very easily use every adjective possible in this paragraph to describe the beauty alone, but instead I’ll just say this: this game is that drop-dead gorgeous. APT: I was so well designed to create that perfect, immersive environment.  Now, while said environment isn’t always so pleasing to the eye — and yes, don’t be surprised if you find yourself afraid to continue onward or if your stomach turns at least a little — it’s really because of the game’s immersion that causes your emotions to be so present.  Oh, and another thing worth mentioning about these emotions is to be prepared to experience them a good bit. I mean, the whole purpose behind APT: I is the struggle that Amicia and Hugo face during such an unforgiving time in their lives; and Asobo brilliantly captured this, to the point of not requiring more than a line of spoken dialogue and a decision to achieve that.

The gameplay mechanics are surprisingly well executed, which consist of two major components: stealth and puzzles. And while you’re busy running, hiding, jumping, shooting, and solving puzzles, you’ll also have to keep a watchful eye out for crafting materials that’ll make your life easier as you progress. Yes, you read that last part correctly in the aforementioned sentence — strangely enough, the developer has snuck in this particular element that remarkably feels so right at home, in such the hectic, story-driven game.  Having included the crafting aspect of this game, leads to even more decisions having to be made by you, as to what to craft and when. Resources are mighty scarce here, and should you spend all of your resources crafting upgrades or failing to craft any, it will certainly hurt you later on.

Remember those two components I just mentioned?  The stealth portion of APT: I is mostly about staying out of the line of sight of soldiers, guards, and the Inquisition, because the moment you’re spotted by any of them, they will quickly kill you. However, don’t think that stealth is just for evading purposes, as you’ll often find yourself having to get into a safe enough position to fire a stone from your handy-dandy sling. Just keep in mind that taking out your enemies requires skill, and reloading your sling and preparing to fire again takes time.  A missed shot can often be a fatal error. The other portion of the game is puzzle-driven, and mostly involves staying away from the rats that are plaguing France. They have the tendencies to swarm, and will almost instantly devour you, if you happen to make contact with them.  Despite their deadly approach, they’re not invincible. They’re afraid of anything having to do with light, and for good reason; they will die if they get caught in it.

As you progress through APT: I, you will gain knowledge in crafting/alchemy, which will come in even more handy when applied to your sling. You’ll learn how to create special potions from the ingredients that you gather, which then these potions can be used on the stone for an added effect. For example, one will cause the rats to move out of your way for a few seconds or overtake an enemy that’s too far away from a source of light. Two potions that are of most importance though, are ones that will extinguish a flame and ignite something flammable. These particular ones will allow you to literally manipulate the rat swarms to save yourself or attack an enemy.

This game is a very solid effort, with an excellent mix of stealth-action and puzzle-solving. The stealth-action sequences are definitely intense, as you often have just one chance to make a shot or escape your enemies, which in turn amps up the excitement.  And the puzzles are clever, without being too difficult to solve.  As an added bonus, if you seem to get stuck in an area, Amicia or another companion will offer a hint or suggestion, without giving everything away. I said ‘another companion’, because you won’t always be by yourself or with Hugo.  In fact, you’ll come across allies throughout the game that will join you on some of the levels.  Each of these characters have their own special abilities to help you as needed, plus you can have them do certain tasks to aid you with the solving.

If you’re looking for a game with a very gripping story that connects you with the characters from the very beginning, plus having action, stealth, puzzles, and crafting all mixed together very nicely, then this game is totally it. If I were to have anything negative to say at all, it would be that I was left with wanting more; as in, say a sequel perhaps?  (Nudge Nudge, Asobo…)

Sean ‘ToonBoy’ Boley
Platform:  Xbox One
Developer: Asobo Studio
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
ESRB: M
Price: $49.99

A Plague Tale Innocence Official Website:
http://aplaguetale.com/en

Review Score
Graphicswww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The visuals are of stunning, top-notch cinematic quality!.
Soundwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Love the soundtrack!
Gameplaywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Very nicely done all the way around; very solid.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
A title that truly hits you in the feels; we need more games like this one.

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