A Plague Tale Requiem preview: More of a good thing - MrLiambi's blog


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Monday, 29 August 2022

A Plague Tale Requiem preview: More of a good thing

One of the sleeper hits of the last generation of consoles, A Plague Tale: Innocence, has a sequel coming very soon. 

We've had hands-on time with A Plague Tale: Requiem at Gamescom 2022, and are pleased to confirm that it looks like plenty more of an already-good thing. 

Picking things up

Protagonist Amicia and her little brother Hugo have been through the ringer after the harrowing events of Innocence, but Requiem actually picks up with them doing okay, from what we've learned so far.

They're on a new journey with their mother and seem to have left behind the strife that had previously dogged their every step.

That optimism doesn't last - surprise, surprise. Things go south quick and the rats that have plagued them are back in the picture, along with a recurrence of Hugo's mysterious illness. 

We picked up our hands-on around a third of the way through the game, with Amicia and Hugo seemingly separated from their mother and trying to find their way south to an island that has been haunting Hugo's dreams. 

Starting off serene, the demo showcased the trademark slow, grinding rise in tension that worked so nicely in Innocence. We walked Amicia and Hugo through a gorgeous forest, an open wildflower meadow and into a camp of pilgrims. 

Then, of course, the good times ended, with soldiers arriving to search the camp for our heroes thanks to their crimes in earlier chapters. Like some of the first game, this whole story-driven section was somewhat on rails, but through environments so gorgeously realised that it's simply a pleasure to amble through them.

Once the game threw us back into stealth scenarios, though, things got going nice and quickly.

Run and hide

Requiem plays, from our time with it, very similar to Innocence - perhaps slightly more smoothly, but it's a close-run thing. 

In the more active parts of the game, you'll navigate around areas teeming with guards and pockets of the plague rats that torment you, trying to get through in whatever way you can.

When it works best, as it often does, this has you mixing a bit of planning and strategy with off-the-cuff panic. The demo we played had some impressively large areas to get through, and while we successfully picked our way through some without being discovered, others left us sprinting to a bolted door just in time to escape the chasers we'd alarmed. 

Along the way, you'll use a range of tools - for one, the sling that featured heavily in Innocence is back, with a new missile type that flares up fire. This allows you to stun torch-carrying enemies, among other uses. 

Amicia also has a handy crossbow now, for lethal ranged takedowns, although it's slow to load and ammo is extremely scarce. You're able to fight off enemies up close (a bit), but fundamentally, if you get into that situation, you're likely to die quick. Amicia is a slim young woman, and these armoured soldiers are often twice her size. 

The demo also showcased Hugo's ability to once again control hordes of rats, this time in a way that you have more control over. The tension of taking over these swarms to direct them at your enemies, while trying to ensure that you don't leave yourself open to being devoured, results in some great fun. 

A gorgeous journey

What's so impressive is how Asobo Studio blends its storytelling with gameplay - from the dialogue that Amicia and Hugo whisper to each other as they hide from guards to the ever-present threat of the rats, it feels like an effective medley.

Amicia was sporting a gnarly head wound throughout the demo, clearly suffered in an earlier section, and the stress summoned up by her moments of dizziness and discomfort is just another layer of canny manipulation from a dev team in its element, tugging on your emotions.

As we mentioned earlier, though, another big part of the game's storytelling is down to some mightily impressive visuals. Innocence had some really great environments at points, but Requiem is on another level.

From the very beginning of our demo, outdoor and indoor scenes alike wowed us with their lighting and detail. Rock formations had the look of photogrammetry, so realistic were their crags and cracks, while the forest canopy dappled the light brilliantly in the pilgrims' camp.

There's also constantly clever use of colour - huge swathes of red fabric adorning the camp turn it from a generic sight into a memorable area. While strategically-placed torches light up scenes eerily or reassuringly depending on what the moment demands.

We're really excited to see what further locations the full game takes us to, because from the evidence we saw, we'd expect each to be as sumptuous as the last.

Source : https://www.pocket-lint.com/games/reviews/162385-a-plague-tale-requiem-review

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