Thursday, 23 May 2024

A Plague Tale: Requiem Review

Going into A Plague Tale: Requiem, the highly anticipated sequel to A Plague Tale: Innocence, I had high expectations for an improved and expanded experience. Little did I know just how significantly this sequel would surpass the original. Requiem is not simply a standard sequel; it is an epic tale that reaches new heights in terms of scope and storytelling prowess. Although the game’s sheer size can sometimes strain its execution, particularly in the first half, I am overall impressed by the boldness and nearly universal improvements of Requiem.

The Continuing Story of Amicia and Hugo

Requiem picks up roughly six months after the events of Innocence. While it is possible to follow the narrative without prior knowledge of the series, I highly recommend playing Innocence or familiarizing yourself with its story first. The story revolves around siblings Amicia and Hugo de Rune as they strive for a semblance of normalcy while grappling with Hugo’s rat-infested Macula condition. Initially, the game provides a glimpse into their ordinary lives with their mother. However, as expected, the Macula plague resurfaces, forcing Amicia to once again become their protector. This shift leads Amicia, Hugo, and the returning alchemist Lucas on a journey to a mysterious island in search of answers and a cure.

An Extended Journey

One aspect of Requiem that stood out to me was the change in setting and the introduction of new elements to the series. However, it took quite a while to reach this point. About half of the game is spent escaping from their new home to reach a boat that will take them to the island. While these 10 to 12 hours are enjoyable and reminiscent of the first game, they lack the fresh experience I anticipated from a sequel. Additionally, I encountered several technical issues, including distracting framerate drops, visual bugs, and one complete crash.

Uncovering the Island’s Mysteries

Despite the slow start, once the characters reach the island, the game takes on a whole new level of excitement. The story gains momentum, introducing new allies, villains, a cult, and intriguing lore. Exploring the island feels like navigating a miniature open world, and it is the most expansive area in the series. The narrative leads you through various locations on the island, engaging you in solving ancient underground ruins’ mysteries or defending against secretive slavers waiting for the Child of Embers. By the end of the game, I felt intimately familiar with the island’s layout.

Perfecting the Mechanics

The island segment of the game impressed me the most because everything came together seamlessly. The puzzles that allow you to manipulate the rats’ aversion to fire, using them to stealthily eliminate enemies, were consistently satisfying. The story’s twists and turns, combined with the central mystery of the island, kept me engaged throughout.

A Visual Feast

Visually, Requiem is stunning. Asobo Studio has created a painterly aesthetic, using unique and vibrant color palettes that complement the medieval setting beautifully. The game captures moments of despair and darkness through a grayscale palette, while also showcasing the vibrant beauty of the island’s coastal flowers. Requiem truly is a treat for the eyes.

A Mix of Intensity and Excitement

Requiem breaks up moments of quiet and stressful stealth gameplay with sequences akin to those seen in Crash Bandicoot. These segments see Amicia fleeing from massive hordes of rats or sprinting towards safety. They provide a much-needed change of pace and highlight the game’s bombastic nature. Requiem takes the series to new heights in terms of scale and size, surpassing Innocence in every way. The addition of new weapons, such as a one-hit-kill crossbow, and Hugo’s ability to control rats and consume enemies further enhance the gameplay.

Streamlining the Experience

Despite my overall positive impression of the island segment, I feel that Asobo could have trimmed a significant portion of the game. While not inherently bad, these sections felt like unnecessary padding that hindered the pacing of Requiem.

Conclusion

Upon completing Requiem, I was relieved, not because I didn’t enjoy the game, but because the journey of the de Rune siblings is often tense and emotionally draining. At times, it can feel excessively long and sadistic in its focus on inflicting psychological distress on the protagonists. Nevertheless, I admire Asobo Studio’s command of the series, its rat-infested stealth mechanics, and its grandiose storytelling. Requiem goes beyond being a mere sequel; it is an impressive continuation of the series. As I reflect on this captivating journey, I look forward to the future of the series and eagerly anticipate what lies ahead.

FAQs

Q: Do I need to play the first game, A Plague Tale: Innocence, before playing Requiem?
A: While it is possible to follow Requiem’s story without prior knowledge, playing Innocence or becoming familiar with its story will enhance your understanding and appreciation of the sequel.

Q: How long does it take to reach the island in Requiem?
A: Reaching the island is a significant portion of the game and can take around 10 to 12 hours. Despite the slower pace, this section sets the stage for a thrilling and expansive narrative.

Q: Are there technical issues in the game?
A: Unfortunately, some players may encounter technical issues such as framerate drops, visual bugs, or even crashes. While these issues can be distracting, they don’t significantly impact gameplay enjoyment.

Q: Does Requiem surpass its predecessor, A Plague Tale: Innocence?
A: Yes, Requiem elevates the series to new heights in terms of scope, storytelling, and gameplay mechanics. It surpasses Innocence in every way, offering a grander and more captivating experience.

Q: Will there be more games in the series following Requiem?
A: While the future of the series is unknown, Requiem leaves players excited about the potential for further adventures. Whether Asobo Studio plans to continue the franchise or take a break, Requiem concludes the current chapter with an impressive conclusion.