A Plague Tale: Innocence might have been one of the last things I saw at E3 this year before the trade show closed its doors, but it might have also been one of the most surprisingly creepy, unsettling demos at the show. Set in France during the middle-ages and in a town at the behest of both an overbearing Inquisition and flesh eating rats, A Plague Tale ramps up the thick gothic atmosphere with puzzle gameplay that might just make it stand out amongst the crowd.
You’ll play as Amicia – a 14-year-old girl who has found herself warding her 5-year-old brother, Hugo. They’re alone in this dangerous part of France, both seeking out their lost mother and just generally staying away from anything that moves other than themselves. The Inquisition patrols the streets with gloomy lanterns, stripping away the darkness at their feet. It also, coincidentally, acts as the only defence against the carnivorous rats that have infested the entire city – scurrying in wait for the moment the light is sniffed out, and they’re giving the chance to attack.
Given Amicia’s size, it’s no surprise that you’ll be using her brain more than brawn to circumvent enemies in A Plague Tale. In the short demo we got to see her using a sling with a rock to knock lanterns out of the hands of patrolling guards. With the light gone the rats move in, truly emphasising a death by a thousand bites as they tear away guards in just a matter of seconds. The sound design is particularly unsettling here, as the squeaks of the ever-present rodent threat barely drowns oublood-curdlingrdling screams of their victims. Amicia might seems cold hearted in this regard then, but she’s simply looking out for herself. And Hugo too.
Hugo, as you may expect, comes in handy in a few ways. Although you don’t seem to have direct control over him at any time, Amicia will need Hugo to access areas she otherwise can’t crawl into. His small size allows him to reach switches and light sources to help progress puzzles, as was seen in a creepy multi-faceted encounter in an abandoned cathedral. The central hooks still loops back to light – or better yet the aim to obtain it. Acting as the only defence against the rat horde, it’s central to survival. And an easy marker as to the way forward for Amicia and Hugo.
And while this demo isn’t indicative of the final game (we were told specifically that this sequence wasn’t going to make it into the final product as is), it did act as a suitable tonal piece to start getting imaginations racing. Especially if the closing moments are any indication as to the direction the 10 or so hour narrative might take. As Amicia and Hugo make their way further into the catacombs of the cathedral, they find themselves surrounded by decrepit skulls and bones from countless corpses. A voice calls out and Hugo runs forward, yelling for his mother. Amicia gives chase, sensing the entire thing as a elaborate ruse before the demo cut to black.
Suffice to say, I don’t only want to see more of this disturbingly gorgeous gothic world, but I’m already invested in the bond that exists between Amicia and Hugo. Their journey might be a twisted and dark one, and I’m excited to see how Amicia will further use her abilities to both fight for and protect her younger brother. A Plague Tale: Innocence is only out next year, but it’s already looking like one of the biggest under the radar games to keep a close eye on.
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Last Updated: June 20, 2017