A Plague Tale: Requiem was released for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Windows and Xbox Series X/S on 18 October 2022, with the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One versions being a cloud-based title. It’s been one of my most anticipated titles for 2022, and I’ve just finished up my play-through on PC.
To start, I’m not proud to say I bounced off the original game (A Plague Tale: Innocence from 2019) after only a few hours. Although I thought it looked good and appreciated what it was trying to do, the game never managed to get its hook in me.
Regarding the sequel, I had a massive change of heart.
Set around six months following the original game’s events, you’ll continue to follow main characters Amicia and Hugo de Rune as they search for a cure to Hugo’s Illness. The Macula is a mysterious, ancient curse that runs in the bloodlines of particular families. It plagues the de Rune family and, in particular, has awoken in Hugo de Rune’s blood. (Because it’s a Plague – Tale)
If you did play the first game, many of the mechanics will feel similar. This time, everything feels significantly expanded, and the game is all the better for it. First, no more one-hit deaths if an enemy catches Amicia; you’ll get a chance to counter and get back on your feet. This alone made a massive difference to my enjoyment of the game. The combat is still more focused on stealth, but once you’ve levelled up your stats, you can fight.
Puzzle-based stealth is how I describe the game, with most encounters taking a little time and thought to get through. I never found myself stuck, but exploring your options is a must. Although you fight human enemies, nothing will prepare you for the number of rats you’ll come up against. When it comes to the rats, STAY IN THE LIGHT is as simple as it gets. At times you’ll even use the rats to solve puzzles.
You’ll have several options; as you progress through the game. You’ll be able to create and extinguish fire and make small firework like explosions. You can get really creative with your use of these skills, and I loved the way they all worked. You’ll even be able to use tar to expand any flames or fires you create. All your abilities can be used against human or rat enemies and are all used together to create interesting puzzles.
Your abilities are primarily used via your trusty sling, a versatile weapon which can bring down most enemies. You’ll need to get creative at times, and using Extinguis to put off the light of a torch to see rats devastate a soldier is both amusing and disgusting at the same time. Later in the the Plague Tale, you’ll have a better option than the sling (no spoilers here for what that is).
As the Macula continues to affect Hugo, you’ll also gain many rat-based abilities. Echo allows you to view all the enemies in an area, much like detective mode in the Batman Arkham games. It’s a shame that capabilities like this have become so overused, and it seems like an easy option for gamers to scout out upcoming areas. What is more enjoyable is the ability to take control of a group of rats and direct them towards anyone you need to take down. This feels like a total powerplay, and you can quickly clear an area and path an exit.
Any gear you have can be upgraded to allow for more damage to enemies and longer-lasting effects. You’ll do this by collecting scrap and materials and upgrade tokens at workbenches that can be found during exploration. I’d recommend saving up your tokens, as there’s an upgrade that allows you to do this on the fly without needing a workbench once you collect enough.
Alongside the expanded abilities and inventory, the game is WAY more extensive and better looking than the original. The game is fantastic to look at and might be the best-looking game of 2022 that I’ve played, although keep in mind, I haven’t been able to play a small number of PS5-exclusive games in 2022 (Horizon Forbidden West and God of War Ragnarok). The visuals on offer are one of the few times since the new generation of consoles that I’ve felt I’m playing something I couldn’t have a few years ago. Frankly stunning in motion.
The game’s visuals truly show in some of the sections of rat chases. It was noted just before release that the game can generate up to 300,000 rats on screen at once; it’s something unique to witness, and it sent shivers down my spine trying to escape it. Between these chase sections, the open-world-like exploration sections have moments of darkness and beautiful splashes of colour. It’s hard to write just how impressed and in love I was with the game’s visuals.
In terms of story, the game also managed to grab my interest. It’s an emotional tale about a sister wanting to care for her brother. The voice acting and script are superb, and I hope all involved are recognised at any end-of-the-year and best-of-game awards. Amicia is such a strong female lead character and someone I had grown to love by the end of my playtime.
The game’s plot will see both main characters on a journey for peace, from that of both the rats that have terrified the de Rune family and the pain that Hugo is experiencing. Set in medieval France in the 14th century, you’ll travel through a handful of places like Provence, Marseille and the island from Hugo’s dreams, La Cuna.
During Plague Tale, you’ll meet many different characters and even befriend a few, like Sophia and Arnaud. One is a pirate with a heart of gold, and the other is a disgraced knight. I loved them both, and either was strong enough to lead their own game and story.
Although I’m trying to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, there is a very drawn-out section later in the game that goes on too long. The game is best during its more significant set pieces, and the extended exploration section outstays its welcome. I enjoyed learning more about the history of Hugo’s illness, but this could have been shorter.
On PS5 and Xbox Series consoles, the game appears to push what’s possible so far, with neither featuring a 60FPS mode. If you’re lucky enough to have a 120hz capable TV or monitor, you can take advantage of the 40FPS VRR (Variable Refresh Rate)mode for a slightly smoother experience. If not, you’ll be locked to 2k and 30FPS.
On PC, I’ve been playing at 3440 by 1440 at Ultra settings with DLSS performance mode on. It’s usually given a framerate of around 70 to 80 FPS (with a couple of dips to 60ish later in the game during busier sections). Take note; this is with a 3070 and an AMD 5800x, so you might need to lower the settings on any older hardware.
Asobo Studio and publisher Focus Entertainment deserve massive praise for delivering an outstanding game and one that hugely improves on its original title. The narrative is excellent, and the production values are through the roof. I’m curious if they will continue the series and what we might see from them in the future. A Plague Tale: Requiem is the best game I’ve played so far this year!