A Plague Tale: Requiem

A Plague Tale: Requiem came out in October last year. I loved the original Plague Tale: Innocence. Can this sequel live up to its predecessor?

Plot

A Plague Tale: Requiem kicks off where A Plague Tale: Innocence left off. If you missed A Plague Tale Innocence, well…

Okay, spoilers for Plague Tale: Innocence incoming.

Read on at your own peril!

Innocence stars Amicia de Rune. In the game, we learned that Amicia’s brother Hugo is afflicted by something called ‘the Macula’. This disease is slowly killing him, but it also draws forth hordes of rats that Hugo can control, and the rats cause the plague. In the first game, the inquisition wants to control Hugo, but in the end, he frees himself. They kill the grand inquisitor, who wanted Hugo’s powers for himself, and escape with their mother, and their friend Lucas, an alchemist’s apprentice.

When Requiem starts, the group has left their home, and is in search of a cure for Hugo. As they travel, the Macula reasserts itself. They travel to a small city, where they hope to find aid from the Alchemist Order. The city seems a haven at first, but looks are deceiving. The plague and Macula rats already haunt the catacombs beneath the old city arena.

As the story unfolds, things grow grimmer and grimmer for Hugo and Amicia. Their search for a cure leads them into some very dark and disturbing places. This strains both of them to their breaking points, and well beyond.

Confusion

The first game had a pretty straightforward plot, with some twists and turns. Unfortunately, the second installment has added a lot of lore. ‘Lore’ is not bad (well, the star trek version is), but it can lead to confusing and contrived plot points. For example, see… well, most Final Fantasy games.

Requiem’s plot is more confusing than the first game. They build on the previous game, but add more… stuff. I had trouble keeping up, here and there. For example, I completely missed Arnaud’s mercenaries and the Count of Provence’s soldiers were different groups, and who Arnaud was.

That said, as the game progresses it really drags you in. And it doesn’t make the game any less fun. Well, fun isn’t the word, this is a horror game. Entertaining.

Gameplay

Like the first instalment, Requiem is a mix of stealth gameplay, puzzling, and some other weird mechanics. Like the first game, you run afoul of enemy soldiers, which you have to evade or kill. But, you are not an action hero cutting down swaths of enemies. You’re a young girl. Killing soldiers can be done with your trusty sling, or you can extinguish the enemy torches and the rats will do it for you. But if the soldiers get to you, one blow of their sword and you’re done for.

Some of the mechanics have changed from the first game to the second. There are more different types of enemies, and you get more weapons. Besides the sling and pots from the first game, a crossbow is added to your arsenal. Also, Hugo has control of the rats quite early in the game, adding to the options.

All in all, you can do more than in previous games, and the stealth sections feel more varied. That said, more is not always better, and I found myself falling back on familiar tactics from the previous game. Luckily, the game has a lot of different segments, requiring different tactics. The scenery is more varied than in the previous game too.

Atmosphere

What Innocence and Requiem have going for them is that both have a really well-created atmosphere. The oppressive gloom of the plague in the first game, and the horrible disease chasing Hugo — both figuratively and literally — in the second, are something else. The whole game breathes horror just below the visible surface, ever-present and sometimes bursting forth, without revealing how deep and dark that horror truly runs.

Amicia and Hugo are, again, the stars of the game, and both really grow in this second game. Requiem really goes all out on their characters and how they develop, and it is a sight to behold.

If you are able to run the game on high settings, the game looks gorgeous. It does take a mighty rig to run at these high settings. Where the first game ran well even on less powerful machines, this game uses all the juice it can. And, of course, this has led to some complaining, and perhaps rightly so. A game that needs to jump through hoops to run on the latest generation of consoles might be a bit too much. Then again, if you can play Requiem on a high-end PC, it looks absolutely brilliant.

Conclusion

If you like horror or stealth games, you’ll probably like this one. But if you hate stealth games and horror, you’ might not like it’ll probably want to give it a pass.

If you haven’t played the first game, I do recommend playing that first, though. If you have and liked it, go get this one too.

I think they’re both awesome.

Martin Stellinga Written by:

I'm a science fiction and fantasy author/blogger from the Netherlands