The last few weeks have revealed a lot, including a release date
If anyone has been following A Plague Tale: Innocence, then you know there has been a lot of new information in recent weeks. There was a three-part web series that showed off some of the things that happen behind the scenes. Plus Twitter has been alight with snippets of information and pictures. For your convince, you will be able to find most of this new information in the following paragraphs because I am a charitable soul. Plus it gave me an excuse to dive into this game as thoroughly as possible.
At the beginning of the game, we will be introduced to the two main characters Amicia and Hugo. It starts off on just a normal day involving walking around the streets of 14th century France. The sun is shining, I’m sure the birds are chirping and everything looks quite lovely for our well to do protagonist and her brother.
But this is a video game. Happy moments never last and chaos must ensure. The chaos takes the form of the Black Plague and the Inquisition. This turmoil leaves Amicia and Hugo orphaned and completely alone. Hugo is only 5 years old and appears sickly, so he is unable to do much of anything on his own. It now becomes Amicia’s responsibility to take care of him.
Always remember the question ”Are you a man or a mouse?” because both are deadly in A Plague Tale. If it is an adult, it’s a member of the Inquisition and wants to kill you. If it’s a mouse then it’s really a rat and wants to eat you and there’s a lot more than just one. A rather simple equation to understand, but less simple to deal with. But there are several different ways to deal with all the different foes.
You will have choices in the form of how to handle the Inquisition. Stealth will be your friend in most cases, but much like Dishonored, whether you go about killing everyone to reach your goal or sneak around them is up to you. Either way, dealing with them before they see you will always be in your best interest.
The only weapon at your disposal is a slingshot of sorts that Amicia will use to launch stones and other things through the air at a surprising velocity. The force will be enough to break lanterns, knock people over, and cause dead bodies to fall into the swarm of rats below them. But that is not the slingshot’s only use.
There will come a time when Amicia learns a little alchemy and can use it to her advantage. One of the trailers shows 5 of the different things to learn. Ignifer lights embers and other flammable materials on fire from a distance while Extinguis, unsurprisingly, extinguishes them. Luminosa will create a circle of light that will cause the rats in the area to flee and can be thrown anywhere on the ground.
There are also some more aggressive types of alchemy when interacting with the Inquisition. Somnum is a tranquilizer type of mixture that will put people straight to sleep. The downside is that you have to get up close and personal to use it, which would likely be difficult most of the time. Devorantis is essentially an acid bomb that burns guards face and can focrce them to remove their helmets.
Creating these lovely little projectiles is a skill taught by other children Amicia and Hugo will meet. Most, if not all, of the NPCs met in this game will be orphans like yourself, struggling for survival. This allows Asobo Studios to tell the story through the eyes of children, making it even more traumatic and harrowing than it already sounds.
In the web series, the developers talked a lot about how they got their influences for the environment. The studio is in Bordeaux so they were able to walk along many of the streets and study the buildings that are still standing, of which there are many. But what I found particularly fascinating was the use of paintings. The paintings were used to help with mimicking natural light.
Three different painters were mentioned, and I, being the overachiever that I am, have done research into all three of them. Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter most famous for the ”Girl with a Pearl Earring”. His use of natural light coming from windows and realistic looking shadows would certainly make him an obvious choice to emulate. Pieter Bruegel painted more in the way of chaotic city scenes that often have fire and smoke filling the air. So I’m betting on there being some massive, fiery destruction somewhere in the story. The last is Claude Lorrain who is certainly my favorite of the three. Yes, the scenes he chose are stunning, but his paintings depict all times of day and weather. This means that whatever elements they decided to have in the game, they always have a painting off of which to base it.
Now on to the main attraction of A Plague Tale, the rats. No one really knows much about the rats at the beginning of the game. The plague has made them vicious and given them a taste for human flesh, but that’s about it. We also know that the Inquisition knows more but is unwilling to share this information. Instead, they would rather control them, as best they can, and use them for whatever nefarious purposes they have up their sleeves.
The developers go on to explain that the rats actually work on a hive mind mentality. Meaning that while the rats all seem to move as one, each individual is actually doing its own thing. Hive mind is based on, you guessed it, bees, and how if one bee learns something, that information is passed onto the entire hive almost instantly allowing the hive to work as one fluid unit. This is achieved by the bee releasing a pheromone into the air that the other bees can sense and react to accordingly. Hive mind mentality has occurred in humans as well but is usually reserved for cults. Rats are not creatures that naturally exhibit this type of behavior meaning the plague is not only making them violent but also more intelligent than actual rats, making them all the more deadly.
There is one thing that I am curious about however, that has yet to be discussed by the developers. Hugo is young and impressionable, but how will that play into the endgame? I am getting the distinct feeling that the choices you make will change the way Hugo comes out of the game. For instance, if he sees Amicia kill all the guards as opposed to sneaking by them, will that change the person he becomes? In real life, it, of course, would, but there is something in the way all of this has been presented that makes me think that it will in the game as well. Of course that is pure speculation.
Most of this can all be found in the web series for the game so if you have yet to see it, I would suggest checking it out. There is quite a bit new gameplay in there as well. Though interesting to see, you might want to avoid it if you’re attempting to go in as blind as possible.
A Plague Tale: Innocence has a May 14th release date on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
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