A Plague Tale: Innocence review for Xbox One, PC, PS4

Platform: Xbox One
Also On: PC, PS4
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Asobo Studio
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

A Plague Tale: Innocence brings together all kinds of things that I hate in games. It?s mostly one long stealth-based escort mission. It relies heavily on the trope of kids in peril. It requires a fair amount of crafting. It features lots and lots of gore-based horror.

I?d like to say that, even with all these strikes against it, I still found a way to love it. Or, better still, that A Plague Tale does all of those things so well that it showed me that it?s not that any of those things are inherently bad, it?s just that I?ve never experienced them at their best.

To say either of those things, however, would be a lie. A Plague Tale: Innocence just plain wasn?t my cup of tea.

That said, even if I wasn?t crazy about the game, I can still admit it did a few things very well. For starters, it?s legitimately creepy, and frequently outright disgusting (which, I assume, is what it?s going for). The game is about two kids making their way through Medieval France during the height of the Black Death, and they?re constantly under threat from both rats carrying the disease and villagers terrified of newcomers who might be carrying it. For the latter, the game does a good job of making almost everyone you come across seem like a potential (or very real) threat, which sets an appropriately paranoid tone.

As for the rats…if you have a strong stomach, you can reach about ?rat kings, the (thankfully rare) phenomenon whereby masses of rats get stuck together and basically turn into a giant, writing ball. A Plague Tale takes that concept to the extreme, and every so often you find yourself plunged into rooms full of endless rats streaming over every surface and devouring everything they come across, leaving behind only bloody stumps and entrails. It may be the single most nauseating thing I?ve ever seen in a video game, which may be a dubious honour, but also one that A Plague Tale undeniably deserves.

Unfortunately, the rest of the game isn?t nearly as compelling. The story isn?t terrible, to be fair, but as I said, it?s built around a girl escorting her mostly useless little brother through peril after peril. Even after he gains a few more abilities later in the game, it still doesn?t make for the most compelling gameplay. On a similar note, you?ll really need to enjoy skulking in the shadows and running for your life if you want to get the most out of the game — which, to be completely honest, I just don?t.

I fully recognize, though, that my experience of A Plague Tale: Innocence may be completely different from someone who enjoys escort missions and who loves stealth. If that describes you, there should be plenty for you to enjoy. Just make sure you have a strong stomach too, because…man, those rats.

Focus Home Interactive provided us with a Plague Tale: Innocence Xbox One code for review purposes.

Grade: B