We should have known from the name Amicia that flowers would have a role in A Plague Tale.
Amicia comes from the Legume family according to Wiki. So the signs were clearly there. It’s a nice touch. In between the hordes of rats, creepy knights, and diseased corpses.
Little Hugo will pluck thirteen flowers throughout the game for his Herbarium, then place them in his sister’s hair.
It’s one of the purest, most delightful gestures I can remember in a long time and it really helps split up some of the games’ tense moments.
And believe me, it has plenty of those! We even compared it to Game of Thrones if you read our earlier preview.
Hugo believes that by putting flowers in his sister’s hair he is protecting her. He’s not strong enough to fight back and even gets tired from all the running.
But he believes that he can look out for his sister by drawing on the restorative and protective qualities of the earthly beauties.
It all ties in nicely with the game’s dabbling with the magic and mysticism of the fourteenth century with other collectibles like talismans and diaries.
Enemy soldiers are being eaten by gaping holes in the floor, hundreds of rats appear on the screen devouring everything in sight. The game certainly doesn’t lend itself to the conventional.
Fortunately, you can fight back with slingshots, stones and fire, protecting your innocent little brother at all costs.
Smartly, then, the game is primarily centered around stealth. You often need to use light to guide you through the rats, stick to the shadows to avoid the watchful eye of guards, always holding little brother’s hand.
It all feels a bit Last of Us and Gears of War, without the massive chainsaw guns and brutal executions. But it is as dismal as it is emotive.
The game tugs at the heartstrings with its characterization, specifically the relationship between brother and sister. They’re brought together under unexpected circumstances, learning about each other throughout the adventure.
It’s a powerful storytelling technique because Hugo doesn’t really know what life is like outside his bedroom and Amicia has only met her brother a handful of times before they’re running for their lives.
The game does lose its footing a little bit midway in. The pacing is a bit erratic and goes off the boil. There are also slightly too many stealth sections, some of which are almost impossible for you to get past undetected.
But it more than finds its feet again ready for the finale. Believe me when I tell you, the last few chapters are a proper trip that you’re not going to forget anytime soon.
This game goes to unexpected places, somehow making things even more interesting, and possibly opening things up for the future. I’m in for that.
A Plague Tale: Innocence has taken a lot of people by surprise, and for good reason. It’s a game that finds beauty in unexpected places while still managing to keep you on the edge of your seat.
No doubt about it, Asobo Studio have created a sure-fire contender for Game of the Year and I couldn’t be happier for them. This is a great game that deserves to be played.
That is, unless you’ve got a phobia of rats, then it’s probably best to stay well away…