The game I played was not the game that I was expecting. For some reason, I had it in my head that this was going to be a horror game – I thought I was in for images and themes that would haunt me for a while. However, this is not a horror game. The thing is, that fact didn’t keep me from being haunted by what I experienced while playing this one.
As I played through A Plague Tale: Innocence, I started to get the feeling that I was playing a fairy tale. You play as a young girl who is trying to save her brother and herself from certain doom while exploring a country that has been dominated by a terrifyingly evil oppressor. You take on enemies with nothing but a sling and a handful alchemical concoctions that have an almost magical effect when used. You will come across some seemingly paranormal forces that will twist your understanding of the game’s world again and again. But the fact that your character, a child who is perceived as powerless, must go head to head with an evil force that has taken over and devastated the country around her. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it felt like a fairy tale to me.
However, what made the game horrific in my eyes was probably due to when I played it. If I had played this last year when it was released, I don’t think it would have spooked me much. But I played this in March or April of this year and playing a game that revolves around rampant disease and death with the real world in its current state probably helped the game leave more of an impression on me. I can’t say that playing this game now would be a good idea for everyone, but if you haven’t had enough scares just by reading the news lately, I would recommend playing this to freak yourself out some more.
Oh, and there’s rats. Lots and lots of freaky, dirty rats.
As far as the actual gameplay is concerned, this one plays out in two distinct styles. When guards are the biggest threat around, the goal is to stealthily make your way to the next location. When rats have covered every square inch of the floor, the game takes on more of a puzzle game feel. Some of the best parts are when the two styles overlap, and you’ve got to puzzle your way through a stealth section.
When I played this one, I literally couldn’t stop. Aside from taking a break to sleep, I played this one in a single sitting. The story, the gameplay, the visuals… everything came together to make a game I can’t help but recommend. That is as long as you’re up for something that might hit a little too close to home right now.