In my continued quest to play outside my comfort zone, I began exploring the Game Pass library and stumbled upon A Plague Tale: Innocence. I remember seeing the trailer for this game when it was first announced and thought it looked amazing, but being the scaredy cat that I am, there was no way I was going to do it. Well, a couple of days ago, I decided enough was enough. I was going to branch out into the genre and see if it was too scary for me to play.
I’m learning as I’m writing about scary games that my definition of scary is “a game with jump scares and me being chased with no way to defend myself or figure out how to escape easily”. This game is classified as a horror game, and it certainly lives in the horror genre, but I did not get scared when I played in. Instead, I was completely engrossed from the get-go; the game is visually stunning and I was so curious about where the story would take me.
As with just about every game I play, I find myself laughing at things maybe I’m not supposed to. In this game? Funny dialogue line delivery that doesn’t really match the moment, and the shuffling run of a 5-year-old being absolutely spot-on. The first moment I laughed? This cut scene:
This game is the perfect mix of a compelling story, exploration, action, and stealth. The swelling of music, the ominous mood, and beautiful backdrops had me staying up late to continue the journey. I completed over half the game in one day.
I really loved how this game unfolded. The mystery and intrigue really maintained throughout the game and even as more information was shared with you, it still wasn’t quite clear where it was going. Have I mentioned how beautiful I think this game is? I mean, it is REALLY beautiful. Macabre, but beautiful. (Look at Hugo’s little arm pumping as he runs though… is it just me or is that totally a spot-on 5-year-old run?)
The game has you traveling to various locations dodging traps, sneaking, and using your environment to create distractions. While there is some room for creativity, some sections require certain actions to be taken in order to progress. For example, I was spazzing in this room trying to figure out how to evade guards and move rats. Using light, you can manipulate the paths rats can travel. I was supposed to distract both the guards and the rats with one another, but was detected, leading to this spastic execution that, while cool (and admittedly, completely lucky, I should’ve died), meant I couldn’t move forward and had to restart from the checkpoint.
I was expecting to hate the escorting a child aspect of the game, but it wasn’t too bad. Hugo isn’t the most helpless, in-the-way companion I’ve had in a game and he can be pretty useful. There are moments where you travel alone, and even a segment where you navigate the world as Hugo, but that wasn’t too awful because of the story progression.
The game isn’t without flaws. There were a couple of moments I had to restart because of bugs. NPCs that were aggro’d and never cooled down, a cart that I literally could not move anywhere except backwards and forwards. These were minor inconveniences and the checkpoints didn’t set me too far back. I really liked how the game introduced new elements and skills as you progressed. You learn the behaviors of the rats and can use this to your advantage. Side note, the rats animation makes me laugh sometimes. They’re very erratic and fun to just stand and watch sometimes. Be careful walking too close to them though. You’ll think you’re on the border of the light and they’ll jump you just to keep you on your toes.
The stakes get higher the closer to the end you get. More enemies appear in groups and you have to be quick if you’re going to engage in combat. I often chose attacking over sneaking and was on the brink of death one-too-many times.
So, what else can I say? I loved this game. This is the first time I’m considering going back into a game just to find the hidden curiosities, flowers, and gifts (luckily, the game tells you what you’ve found in each chapter so you don’t have to redo everything). The world is immersive, the visuals are stunning, and while it is definitely in the horror genre, I wasn’t scared playing it.
This is a game worth visiting. If you’re looking for a unique experience, A Plague Tale: Innocence delivers.
What games have you played that have caught you by surprise?