A Plague Tale: Requiem review – Innocence with a bit more Bite

A Plague Tale RequiemFocus Entertainment / Asobo Studio

A Plague Tale: Requiem is a tense yet touching experience filled with love, sacrifice, and endless nightmares, but it’s not perfect.

Coming just three years after A Plague Tale: Innocence, Requiem follows the tragic tale of Amicia, Hugo, and their family as they struggle to navigate their own lives and the deadly diseases encapsulating the world around them.

The game has a distinct preference for stealth which makes for a thrilling and unpredictable experience, guaranteed to make you uncomfortable in certain elements. However, despite the gripping storylines, some elements just fall flat.

A Plague Tale Requiem: Key Details

A Plague Tale Requiem gameplay trailer

Love and Heartbreak Coincide

A Plague Tale Requiem Amicia and HugoFocus Entertainment / Asobo Studio

A Plague Tale Requiem explores two children coming to terms with the violence of their childhood and examines the psychological impact of such a dangerous and unpredictable world they find themselves in.

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However, despite these complicated elements, one theme strikes through the heart of this tragic tale — undisputed love. Through certain failure, impending death, and fatal disease, Amicia and Hugo always find love hidden within a rat-infested nightmare.

The story works in a similar way to its predecessor, Innocence, easing the player through beautiful scenery with joy and exciting experiences for Hugo, only to, just as quickly, plunge both the player and the characters into the type of darkness, danger, and cruelty many have grown accustomed to.

Throughout the game, Hugo, Amicia, and the rest of the characters develop and grow in their skills, weapons, abilities, and personalities. That growth, both tangible and plot-centric, is a real joy to savor throughout the 15 or so hours spent with our protagonists.

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It also made for seamless and natural ‘upgrades’ in their arsenal. Giving Amicia her crossbow was smooth and felt perfectly natural, along with the new alchemical additions from Lucas.

The only real issue with the story is the notion that, if you haven’t played Innocence there are a few gaps and elements of confusion. The game relies on you knowing who the characters are and what they’ve been through, often referring to ‘The Bite’ and ‘The Macula’ as if we should know what it means. Nevertheless, it is still easy enough to piece the story together, but we’d recommend doing the “homework” first.

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Fast-paced but forgiving gameplay

A plague tale going through rats with a torchFocus Entertainment / Asobo Studio

Complementing an engaging yet heartbreaking story is the gripping gameplay. A Plague Tale: Requiem pulls you into every element of its story. From the stealth to the battles to the occasional skippable cutscenes, it’s commonplace to be fully immersed in each chapter and beyond.

This is significantly aided by the im-macula-te (get it?) soundtrack and sound design that encompasses every aspect of the experience. The whispers bite into your ears and the haunting violins draw fear and anticipation to the surface of every movement. It’s truly breathtaking.

One of the most impressive aspects of A Plague Tale: Requiem’s gameplay is how it managed to keep us engaged through its array of puzzles. They perfectly balance the feeling of accomplishment with providing a genuine challenge, and never felt like the hard stop they can be in other titles.

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A slow-burning experience

A Plague Tale requiem CrossbowFocus Entertainment / Asobo Studio

A Plague Tale: Requiem is considerably longer than its predecessor but still manages to keep the gameplay intuitive and fresh, despite having multiple chapters all involving stealth and battles. This is primarily due to the added abilities for both Hugo and Amicia that introduce new ways to tackle puzzles and the game as a whole.

Hugo’s ability to see enemies through walls feels deeply reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed while Amicia’s new crossbow and counter skills allow you to tackle problems head-on or sidestep them depending on your playstyle and preferences.

Such versatility really sets Requiem apart from its predecessor and engaged us considerably more when we were forced to assess each upcoming situation and figure out if we wanted to sneak or go in with crossbows blazing.

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While the versatility is wonderful, one of the best things about A Plague Tale: Requiem’s gameplay is the notion that you don’t unlock all of the resources at once. For example, the crossbow doesn’t come into play until just before halfway through the game and the upgrades and skills don’t overwhelm you as the role out at a steady clip.

Versatility and frustration

A Plague tale requiem graphicsFocus Entertainment / Asobo Studio

In plenty of other stealth-based games, it either allows you to roam the open world or places you on a tight path that you cannot deviate from. A Plague Tale: Requiem has taken the traditional tropes of its genre and flipped them.

It grants every type of gamer an element of their preferred style. A Plague Tale: Requiem has collectibles for you to look for yet doesn’t punish you for heading through the story without any deviation. The resources required to create ignifiers and other tools are all nearby when you need them, meaning you still need to keep an eye out but you’ll never be punished for not searching around.

The main issue with the action-style gameplay is the camera and its lack of movement. Occasionally, when running away from rats you’re forced to control Amicia as she runs towards the camera, Crash Bandicoot style. Unfortunately, all that serves to do is either kill Amicia or cause a significant amount of frustration. It’s impossible to see where to go and since it’s not a straight line, guessing is your best option.

AAA ambitions

A Plague Tale Requiem Amicia and HugoFocus Entertainment / Asobo Studio

When it comes to the graphics and overall design of Requiem, we felt rather torn. In the right light, and when a horde of rats is in motion, A Plague Tale: Requiem is really something to behold.

And yet, it still feels as though there could be more detail on characters and textures, with many scenes lacking emotion due to the lack of sharpness.

In an age where loading screens are practically gone, it was surprising to sit back and wait for the game or a chapter to load for a couple of minutes. For immersion, this was a sizeable blow and felt like one of Requiem’s weaker elements, especially when paired with the aforementioned trial-and-error sections.

The Verdict – 7/10

Hugo and Amicia’s story remains just as compelling as it was in Innocence, but A Plague Tale: Requiem swings for the fences by offering more of almost everything that made its predecessor great. Some curious design choices dampen its impact a little, but overall, it’s a great return for a duo that are fast becoming some of our favorites.

Reviewed on PC