A Plague Tale: Requiem review

A Plague Tale is back with its sequel, Requiem, following on from the first game A Plague Tale Innocence, which managed to pleasantly surprise audiences when that was released back in 2019. It wowed fans with its unique rat-tech, and now A Plague Tale Requiem is here to improve on the first game, as Amicia and Hugo desperately search for a cure.

A Plague Tale is set in 14h century France, where the Black Death is rife, killing hundreds of millions of people. Rats are identified as carrying the disease and spreading it like wildfire, and Hugo appears to have a mysterious connection with the rats, a gift which is being exploited by the people around him. Unfortunately for Hugo and Amacia, this connection with the rats is slowly killing the boy, and it’s up to them to find a cure before it takes Hugo’s life.

We start the game in relative peace and quiet since the events of the first game. Amacia, Hugo and their mother have decided for a fresh start and moved to a new city. It’s not long before they find trouble once again as the rats arrive with the plague and all hell breaks loose. Once again the rat technology is employed and then runs and crawls over each other moving in a huge mass together like some big, deadly creature.

With regard to gameplay, this is a stealth game. It’s all about finding your way from point A to point B, often trying to coax Hugo along with you, without getting detected and without getting mauled by the rats. More often than not there are enemies that get in your way, and you can take them down, but you have to remember you are playing as Amacia, a teenage girl. It’s not a fair fight when she has to take on the men of 14th-century France, especially when they are desperate. The main tool you have in your toolkit is a slingshot, which allows you to create distractions and sneak past enemies.

Amacia does have some unique skills though, she’s an expert when it comes to plants and herbs. This means she can collect various items from nature, combine them together and make new and innovative ammo for the slingshot. This allows you to affect the environment, primarily by creating noise, but also by affecting the rats. The rats, while dangerous to you, are also a tool you can use against your enemies. It’s all about the use of light, they don’t like it and won’t touch you when you are in it or near it. Therefore, if you manage to knock out an enemy’s torch, then they are food for the rats.

A Plague Tale Requiem does bring in some new toys to play with including a crossbow, and various companions. You can kill with the crossbow, as long as the enemies aren’t wearing body armour, and you can use your companions to fight for you. For example, the soldier will fight for you, or you can work with Hugo, who can control the rats much more directly. Companions are very powerful, but unfortunately, they aren’t with you all the time.

One of the stand-out features of the original were the graphics. The fidelity and detail achieved in Plague Tale Innocence were top-shelf, and the sequel is equally impressive. The environments are detailed, plus you get to experience it during the day, at night, when the sun in shining and when it’s raining. Whatever the weather, it’s a stunning-looking game.

The game ramps up in difficulty as you progress through the levels, which is natural. Stealth sections are fairly frequent and can seem overly punishing in places. If you get spotted during these stealth sections, enemies have the nasty habit of calling each other, and more often than not beating you to death. While this doesn’t differ from the original, here you do have a few more options and flexibility to escape the deadly beatdowns. Stealth isn’t normally my genre, and I was made acutely aware of this during my time with Plague Tale Requiem.

One thing the game does really well bring you along for the journey and clearly signpost where to go and what to do. Stealth could be compounded by confusion if you didn’t know where to go, but your destination is clearly laid out in front of you. While you may not know how to get there, you at least know where to go. How you get there is going to be the fun part, and this is something I really appreciated about the game.

Your actions have concequences in Requiem. While the first game was about getting through the ordeal and navigating little Hugo to safety, here you have the chance to kill more enemies, and it’s something that weighs heavy on Amacia on their adventure. Often the supporting cast will react negatively if they see Amacia kill someone, and that adds to the story as you have to live with your actions. Similar to Red Dead Redemption, the environment reacting to your actions adds weight to the overall story and gameplay mechanics.

Overall, A Plague Tale Requiem is a great sequel. While I don’t gel very well with stealth games, this is more than just stealth, there are layers here of great story, interesting gameplay, fantastic visuals and audio. If you played the original then it’s a no-brainer to try out the sequel. If you haven’t played this series before, and you like a good adventure, then I’d recommend giving it a go.

Developer: Asobo Studio
Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: 18th October 2022