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A Plague Tale: Innocence (PS4) - hell comes to Aquitaine

A Plague Tale: Innocence (PS4) – hell comes to Aquitaine

Medieval France is the setting for an unexpectedly bold mix of stealth adventure and rat-infested horror…

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Video games are a nightmare for arachnophobes. Spiders are almost as common a foe as zombies, with most of natures other most unpopular animals never seeming to get a look in. But if you suffer from musophobia then wed say straight way that you should not, under any circumstances, play this game. Which is a shame, because for anyone that doesnt have a disproportionate fear of rats this is one of the most interesting video game releases of the year.

A Plague Tale: Innocence is set in southwest France during the Hundred Years War. Thats not a good time for the country, as not only have the English just invaded but theres a plague of rats that threatens to spread, well… the plague. (And even if they werent no one wants hundreds of thousands of rats hanging around, whether theyre carrying disease-ridden parasites or not.)

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You play the game as a young noblewoman named Amicia de Rune, whose five-year-old brother Hugo has a strange ailment that has kept him confined to their estate. When their home is raided by Inquisition knights specifically targeting their family the pair are forced to go on the run, contending not only with the Inquisition but the hordes of rats that seem to be everywhere.

A Plague Tale is essentially a stealth game, but one where you are almost always on the defensive. Youre not trying to the hide in the shadows so you can jump out and garrotte someone, youre doing it simply to stay out of sight and escape. Even without the unique setting thats an unusual thing for most video games, and as a result A Plague Tales focus is less on action and more on puzzle-solving and storytelling.

Although the game has one foot in historical truth the tone of the game is purposefully off-kilter from the very start, with the rats portrayed more like a demonic horde than a natural infestation. Were not joking about this being nightmare fuel for musophobes, as even if you actively like the real things the creatures in the game, with their horrible noises and ability to strip people to the bone, like land-born piranhas, are horrifying by any measure.

Hugo spends most of his time understandably terrified, so its up to you, as Amicia, to guide him to safety – literally. You have to keep holding Hugos hand or hell start screaming out if left alone for too long, which obviously creates problems when youre trying to get things done. If your escort mission radar has just gone off then you need not worry too much, as the game is careful not to fall into the more obvious pitfalls the idea presents.

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Instead, each set piece works more like a self-contained puzzle, where you use the fact that the rats hate the light, and especially fire, to either avoid them or place them in the path of the Inquisition. This can get rather contrived at times, and the game does a good job of pretending youre in more danger than you actually are, but the mechanics and setting are more than interesting enough to excuse the smoke and mirrors.

A Plague Tale: Innocence (PS4) - that's a lot of rats

A Plague Tale: Innocence (PS4) – thats a lot of rats

Amicia and Hugo arent entirely helpless, with Hugo able to fit in small gaps that no-one else can and his sister possessing a sling that can knock out, stun, or even kill soldiers. She can also load up with alternate ammo that can start or put out fires or attract rats towards a certain spot. Combat is still a minor part of the game but there are what are essentially boss fights at the end of some of the chapters, and the last one in particular is very impressive.

Despite the original script presumably having been written in French, the dialogue is surprisingly good and the characterisation of Hugo, the primary reference of the subtitle, is especially good. Not only does he avoid being an irritating burden in terms of gameplay but hes a genuinely charming character to be around. As obviously traumatised as he is, his childlike wonder at the less disturbing sights he sees are very endearing, as is his unconditional love for his sister.

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Hugos ability to find beauty and companionship all around him, despite all the many terrors, is genuinely uplifting and far more subtly illustrated than many more high-profile games. The voice-acting and the graphics, particularly the animation, are also much betteRead More – Source

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