A trip to Focus Home Interactive’s E3 booth usually never disappoints, and this year was no different. One of the titles the publisher was showing off really stood out to me as having potential to be something different for the third person genre, which is A Plague Tale – Innocence. I was treated to a hands-off demo at the show to learn more about its Middle Age France setting, as well as its main characters and core gameplay mechanics.
The game takes place during the plague era in France and the year is 1349. You take control of two kids who are fleeing from the Inquisition, as well as an intense invasion of rats carrying the plague and thirsting for flesh. The main character is a 14-year-old girl named Elisia, and then there is her brother Hugo, who is more or less your AI partner. He plays a major role in the game’s stealth and puzzle-solving mechanics, as well as its emotional tones, which the developer is aiming to have grip you and take you on a journey full of mystery, intrigue, and perils.
The demo I saw was a pre-alpha build, but the tech looked pretty tight, and the visuals were of a very high quality. Stealth is definitely a main gameplay mechanic, and it makes sense when you consider the protagonists are kids in a world full of devastation and persecution, and not to mention all of the plague rats. Staying in the shadows is just how Elisia and Hugo must survive, but they have light on their side, and the rats, when they’re used strategically to take down the Inquisition enforcers trying to take you out.
Light, in the form of lanterns and fire, is a main tool and mechanic — at least in the demo — to progress in the game and solve its puzzles. I saw Elisia use her sling to break the lantern of an Inquisition solider, which eventually led to the plague rats the light was keeping at bay to eat him, therefore allowing Elisia to move forward. I also saw the rats used as a means to block Elisia and Hugo’s progress, which required another strategy to get past, so this game is all about the use of light and shadows to manipulate the world in the favor of the protagonists.
A Plague Tale – Innocence looks to be more than just a stealth game with puzzles, which should come in the form of an emotional tale. The developers made it clear that this game and its 10 hour length were crafted in a way to really let the story shine, and the emotional journeys of the kids take center stage. The tech is very impressive, it can handle up to 3,000 rats on screen at once without bashing an eye, and the visuals are also top-notch even at this stage of the game’s development. I will be tracking its progression as it makes its way to a late 2018 release for PC and consoles. I recommend you follow along with me, because like many of the games I played and/or saw from smaller studios, this one has the ability to be a stand out if the developers can nail their vision.
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