A Plague Tale: Requiem review: A feast for the eyes, but its narration lacks bite

When we last saw Amicia and Hugo de Rune in A Plague Tale: Innocence, the two homeless orphans escaped the clutches of the Inquisition, desperately trying to find a cure for the cursed Prima Macula in Hugo’s blood. They were also fighting for their lives against thousands of bloodthirsty rats eager to devour them. These two have been through more danger and trauma than anyone should have in a thousand lifetimes, and after the rather happy ending of the first game, it got me thinking: when will these kids get a break?

It turns out the answer is never. Asobo’s sequel A Plague Tale: Requiem is just as bloody and dark as its predecessor and as the siblings continue to fight in a violent world that wants them dead, they will both face tough moral decisions in the name of survival. Oh, and there are more rats. As, a lot more rats.

In Requiem, the duo are forced to flee their homeland and travel south, still trying to find a way to control Hugo’s supernatural power that allows him to control rats. The two specifically search for an island that appeared in Hugo’s dreams in hopes that it holds the key to saving him from his affliction. It’s long, but it’s the only lead they have.

Much of what you’ll do is the same as in the first game, lots of stealth, taking out soldiers with Amicia’s slingshot, using different combinations of alchemy, and sneakily manipulating the horde of rats to work in your favor. It’s all very familiar, but Requiem expands on many of these features, making for a bigger, darker sequel.

The rat-tech is more impressive than ever. Watching a tidal wave of rats devour an entire city – crashing through the streets, spilling over walls, and engulfing entire buildings – is terrifying.

From the very first scene of the game, it’s obvious that Asobo really focused on the show with Requiem. Innocence was set against the backdrop of a dark, war-torn France – with blood-stained battlefields and disease-stricken cities – and while Requiem was also dark and dark in its outlook, Asobo gave the series a major burst. I have always been struck by the beauty of Requiem. Sure, there are still plenty of disgusting rats’ nests and towns full of corpses that make my stomach churn, but there are also quaint medieval towns, pebble beaches, lavender fields and rolling oceans. . In beauty or in ruin, the environments are magnificent.

A young girl prepares to throw a flaming pole into a cave in A Plague Tale Requiem

What doesn’t kill you
A new skill automatically unlocks additional abilities to suit your playstyle. If you’re more sneaky, you can unlock skill perks that allow you to make less noise when moving, but if you’re more aggressive, there are another set of perks that lets you push enemies into open fire and rat nests. Yeah.

The siblings’ surroundings may have improved somewhat in the sunny south of France, but their situation has never looked bleaker, and it won’t be long before the show’s real stars arrive. , in all their little toothy glory. This time, however, Amicia has a lot more tools at its disposal. Your trusty slingshot is back, allowing you to carefully and accurately throw stones and alchemical powders to distract or eliminate soldiers. Staying close to a light source and finding the best patch of long grass to hide in is still key to survival, but with larger sets it feels like you’re actively choosing your own route and style. playing through danger instead of following what has been laid. out before you.

How aggressive you want to be is always up to you. Throwing a boulder at a chest full of metal armor to get a guard’s attention is one way, or blowing out their torch and plunging them into darkness so the rats can feast on their bodies in is, uh, definitely another.

A swarm of rats approaches a soldier from behind in A Plague Tale Requiem

You can get a nice first-person view of the horde as you decide where to move them and who to devour. Which isn’t terrible at all.

The tension between violence and justice was something I loved about Innocence and, as Katharine noted in her preview, it’s an ongoing ethical dilemma kids have to deal with in Requiem. Amicia’s arsenal in Requiem now includes a deadly crossbow, a knife that can be used to quickly stab soldiers to death, and tar that burns when it comes in contact with open flame – incredibly useful for taking out heavy soldiers shielded. All three are fast, aggressive, and hard to watch unfold.

Right in the feelings
I really want to shout out Charlotte McBurney playing Amicia real fast. The energy and sheer ferocity she brings to the role is pretty incredible. Be prepared to have your heart well and really ripped out.

What’s interesting about Requiem is that it’s not just teenage Amicia who has to grapple with the ethics of her actions, but also Hugo. The five-year-old still has the power to control the horde of rats, an ability he discovered near the end of Innocence, and he uses it multiple times to devastating effect. As the two desperately seek protection, Amicia begins to grow more aggressive and is also forced to watch her brother go down the same violent path. If the first game was about two estranged siblings who trusted each other, Requiem explains how this ethical dilemma separates them.

It feels like this escalation is heading towards some sort of conclusion, but sadly it dies off halfway through the game as the story becomes more preoccupied with the duo finding Hugo’s cure. It’s an unexpected change of direction that puts the story on uneven ground. The emotional fallout throughout the game is still touching, but it’s a shame they don’t explore the idea in more depth, especially when Innocence and Requiem rely so heavily on the bond between the two siblings. At least there’s no pope rat.

In beauty or in ruin, the environments look gorgeous and with Asobo’s tactful art direction, Requiem feels visually cinematic, which really helps bring those emotional moments home, like adding a shiny feather duster to a punch.

Other storytelling issues involve Requiem’s ​​new cast. Beatrice, Amicia and Hugo’s mother, returns from the last game, as does Lucas, a young alchemist who tries to help the two siblings keep their spirits up. However, these familiar faces are quickly replaced as Requiem introduces other new characters. The first is enemy-turned-friend Arnaud, a knight who will charge into battle for siblings on instruction, adding yet another violent option to Amicia’s arsenal. The second is pirate girl Sophia, who can set grass on fire with her mirror to distract the guards and acts as emotional support for the two children in moments.

Mechanically both add some nice options to how you handle the sneaky parts of the game, but story-wise they’re rushed so fast they never felt like they had a lot of background work, which means I didn’t feel as attached to this new gang as I did to the bunch of scoundrels at the end of Innocence. In all honesty, I ended up really liking Sophia towards the end of the game (she looks devilish but it’s actually a cinnamon roll vibe that’s completely endearing) but that doesn’t stop Arnaud and her from feeling like empty vehicles to delivering fun new abilities instead of fully rounded characters.

There are many different environments in Requiem, both beautiful and horrifying. My screenshot folder is well and truly stuffed.

Requiem is certainly a dazzling display of detail, color, and thoughtful art direction, but it never quite reaches the momentum of its predecessor, even if the stakes are unequivocally higher. Huge settings and a wider selection of abilities make sneaking through areas infested with soldiers and rats an exciting, if slightly repetitive, challenge, but Requiem’s ​​story fails to maintain the same level of drama and of show.

Comments are closed.