The clever mix of stealth and confusion, not to mention the setting and strong characters, made it an absolute joy to play. In fact, we went on to name it our Game of the Year!
With such a strong first game, it was always going to be difficult to take that core experience and not only replicate it, but improve every aspect of the gameplay and story. We’ve seen a few games slip up when it comes to this, but thankfully Plague Tale: Requiem isn’t one of them. In fact, Requiem not only matches the first in terms of its tight gameplay and captivating story, it regularly surpasses it. It’s an amazing achievement and a perfect example of how to deliver a perfect sequel.
The story follows the events of the first, thrusting Amicia and her brother Hugo back into the heart of plague-stricken 14th-century France. The couple travel far south to try and live a normal life, but of course Hugo’s curse prevents them from doing so. Determined to try and put an end to Macula once and for all, Amicia and Hugo are joined by their friend Lucas and his mother Beatrice (along with several other companions) as they set out to get answers. But will they find him in Marseille? Or is it the strange island of La Juna where they will find salvation?
The main part of this game that ties everything together is the bond between Hugo and Amicia. There are some really heart-wrenching moments here and the last two chapters in particular are excellent, rivaling some of the writing you’ll find in Hollywood productions (the good ones, not the garbage regularly presented in big franchises)
If that’s not enough, Amicia’s inner conflict can be seen cleverly throughout the game. Large themes around death, revenge and righteousness can be felt throughout the title. Amicia suffers a lot in the 17-hour story, torn between helping and loving her brother and stopping the destruction and chaos he has caused.
Amicia falls several times as she sees her head momentarily too late to sob and try to pull herself together. This is a perfect example of creating a complex, emotionally torn protagonist in a game.
The story itself serves as the foundation for the rest of Requiem, which sees 16 chapters between the two predominant gameplay patterns seen in the first game. Before we get into that, it’s worth bringing up the charts. Plague Tale: Requiem is absolutely stunning. With an impressive shooting range, the game balances performance with quality, and some of the effects are breathtaking.
Wet mud leaves footprints underfoot; water crashing realistically against rocks in a bay; while the flickering lights of the flame danced maniacally around. It really is an absolute joy to play, and the team has done a wonderful job of breaking up each level, adding a slightly different weather pattern to the combat.
Early on, you walk up a flight of steps, through a bustling village, to your home, where the sun shines and the flowers dance lazily in the breeze. The next level, when you have to go back down the same path, it’s not only dark, but it’s covered in rain. Although the environment is the same, it feels like a completely new area.
These kinds of situations keep popping up, especially in the second half of the game, and prove that the creators put so much thought into aesthetics.
But of course, graphics mean nothing if the game doesn’t shine, and thankfully Requiem’s polished mechanics are more than adequate to deal with what this game throws at you. Like A Plague Tale: Innocence, the game works in two stages, fighting human enemies and rats. The latter is more methodical and puzzle-based, requiring you to get from point A to point B across large maps.
For those who haven’t played the first game, rats are immune to any attacks, but are repulsed by fire. There’s also a special ingredient you can unlock later that lets you lure rats to a specific location or control them directly, but most of the game sees you using fire or tools in your arsenal to traverse the map.
The second element of stealth comes from the human enemies that have seen the most updates from the first game. Amicia is now more skilled and can actually fight against multiple soldiers. While you can still sneak your way around and avoid encounters (which is the most rewarding way to play), you can also turn the fight back to the French if you want.
With your trusty slingshot handy, a well-placed headshot will take down most enemies. Armor wearers have special methods for shipping, which I won’t spoil in this review.
At the end of enemy encounters, the game’s temporary “XP” mechanic kicks in. These simply act as skill bars that upgrade and affect how Amicia approaches other battles. This is divided into Cautiousness, Opportunism and Aggressiveness. Each of these unlocks new skills you can use in combat or unlock the ability to move to the next area, from moving faster while crouching or shooting enemies from behind. It’s an added incentive and reward for playing a certain way, and Requiem handles it beautifully.
Along the way, you can also upgrade your equipment at workbenches (and later without if you’ve upgraded your equipment enough). By finding Tools and parts in the environment, you can upgrade all aspects of your equipment, allowing you to hold more alchemist potions or your sling, which allows for more accuracy or power. Not only that, but the game is full of collectibles, from hidden chests (which can only be opened with a disposable knife), flowers or souvenirs, the latter of which play out as mini-cutscenes.
The length of the game is about right, although some may argue that it is a few hours too long. Pacing is basically divided into two distinct parts with an interval in between. The first part sees you travel to Marseilles and beyond, while the second part tackles the key myths and ideas hinted at in Tales of Innocence. It works surprisingly well, with the aforementioned interlude working to soften things up.
God, what a beautiful OST this has. Olivier Deriviere deserves a lot of credit here for presenting compositions that encompass a kaleidoscope of emotions. Exciting, discordant guitars for rat segments; beautiful chorus chimes for the intro scene; and soft, guitar-driven tracks. The game has a variety of effects and Plague Tale: Requiem does a fantastic job setting the mood with its sound. This also extends to the voice acting, which is exemplary throughout, and you can really feel the internal conflicts and issues between the characters.
Plague Tale: Requiem isn’t a perfect game, but it’s a perfect example of how to take everything that came before and improve every aspect of its development. From the beautiful soundtrack to the stunning locales; from the thematically resonant story to tight gameplay mechanics; Plague Tale: Requiem is one of the best games this year and is easily an absolute joy to play.