The past week or so has been an amazing time to play A Plague Tale: Requiem–a haunting Halloween ambiance surrounding me as I stealthily navigate 14th-century France during a dreadful time. The sequel to A Plague Tale: Innocence is a stunning affair and feels like one of the first real next-gen games I’ve played on my PS5 (thanks to continual backlog!) The characters and story are both endearing and desperate, and completing each chapter will have you wishing you had more time to play the next. The gameplay is improved for the sequel, and while there can be repetitive moments, the desire to learn the story of Amicia, her brother Hugo and their companion Lucas doesn’t diminish. I believe that the strengths of A Plague Tale: Requiem vastly outweigh its weaknesses, and you would be hard-pressed not to consider this as a contender for one of the top games of the year.
A Plague Tale: Requiem picks up shortly after its predecessor leaves off and to some degree, hopes you left off there as well. I will say that those who pick up from the sequel may have difficulty wrapping their head around the story. Requiem does a modest job of filling in some of the blanks, but some elements may lose their gravity within the context of the bigger story. I would highly recommend going back and playing Innocence if you have the opportunity and time, but YouTube videos can be just as helpful to summarize. Needless to say, the story in Requiem is just as compelling as Innocence, as you navigate through a beautifully bleak and desperate world to solve the mystery of Hugo’s sickness. The pacing between each chapter hits on pivotal story beats that serve your progression well.
The visuals, voice-acting, and sound design are all incredibly stunning and well done. This world is believable, as are the characters’ emotions as they deal with the barrage of highs and lows present in the game’s narrative. Interactions with NPCs and allies add compelling elements to break up combat or while searching for a new location to explore. Then there are the rats. The sheer number and movement of these creatures as they bust through walls and wash over dark floors are delightfully terrifying, yet not without hiccups. My PS5 had noticeable drops in performance when a tsunami of rats came rushing onto the screen that would eventually resolve. And since the rats move about almost like water, there would be some weird glitches of them stacking up between light sources that just looked silly.
Progressing through A Plague Tale: Requiem involves puzzle-solving, stealth mixed with combat, and surviving hordes of rats as they wash over the terrain like a tidal wave. Puzzles and enemies will become increasingly complex, but Amicia gains skills and upgrades to assist in overcoming these changes. Your play style will impact what skills Amicia levels up, so if you are excelling at sneaking around, Amicia will get better at it. You will also find resources that can be used to upgrade your sling and increase the carrying capacity of critical pots or alchemical ingredients. Lucas will also gain abilities to help in your traversal through heavily guarded areas or rat-infested corridors. I found myself enjoying the mix of gameplay, but there are points where things felt a bit repetitive or unnecessary, leaving players wishing they didn’t have to sneak past that additional guard outpost or deal with another area of rats.
Slinging rocks and throwing pots full of fire starter aside, the environment can also help and hinder your progression. Stealth masters can sneak their way through guards by utilizing cover and slipping through windows or under tables. Nothing is more satisfying than sneaking past a patrol of guards with zero suspicion, saving your pots for the next part of the level. Rats, on the other hand, know you are there, and you’ll be relying heavily on alchemy and running from light source to light source. Mix rats and guards together, and you will find yourself using any option that makes sense. In most instances, there are several ways you can approach an area, and how you solve it is ultimately up to you. If you mess up, you can restart sections with a quick pause menu option. I used this quite a bit and appreciated the forgiveness in setting me up not too far from where I stumbled.
A Plague Tale: Requiem does include collectibles to find and some additional gear to pick up if you’re willing to explore and work through some hidden side quests. The main campaign is about 18-20 hours and I would guess a 100% completion would add another 5-6 hours for those of you who are dedicated to the cause and/or trophies. There is also a New Game+ mode that ups the difficulty and adds additional challenges for players to try and complete.
This review is based on a retail copy provided by the publisher.
... for the Masses
A Plague Tale: Requiem is a compelling tale that mixes puzzle solving and stealth gameplay into a beautifully written adventure. Apart from some repetition and technical hiccups, this visual delight shines bright in a year where there hasn’t been all that much to talk about regarding next-gen. This is one to play and should be near the top of many 2022 GOTY considerations.