Going into A Plague Tale: Requiem, developer Asobo Studio’s follow-up to 2019’s A Plague Tale: Innocence, I was drawn to the general leap in quality and scale that most sequels embrace. However, I underestimated how important this leap would be. Calling Requiem a standard sequel is a disservice; Asobo has created a Plague Tale epic. It gives the Odyssian feel in scope and storytelling prowess. Although most of it came together for me by the end of my 20-plus hour journey through medieval France, the game feels strained by its sheer size, especially in its first half. Still, I’m more than impressed by Requiem’s boldness and almost across-the-board improvement.
Requiem starts about six months after the events of Innocence, and while it’s possible to piece together what’s happening if you’re new to the series, I’d really love to play Innocence or at least get caught up on its story before Requiem. I recommend. Siblings Amicía and Hugo de Rune seek a normal life, despite the condition of Hugo’s rat-infested macula. And for the time being, the game reflects what mediocrity is like for Amycia, Hugo, and their mother. Still, as you might have guessed, the macula plague begins to rear its ugly head once again, putting amycia back into protector mode. In this transformation Amicia, Hugo and the returning alchemist Lucas travel to a mysterious island in the south, in search of answers and cures.
I was excited about this change in setting and all the “new” it brought to the series, but it takes a very long time to reach it. At least half of the game is spent escaping to your new home to get to the island by boat. Don’t get me wrong, these 10 to 12 hours of Plague Tale’s are good fun, but they’re so similar to Innocence that, at times, it hardly feels like the new experience I expected from the sequel . It mostly dragged on, even though I was meeting characters that would become some of my favorites in the game, like the battle-hardened but soft-hearted Arnaud or the pirate queen Sofia. It didn’t help that I experienced various technical issues such as distracting (but not game-breaking) framerate drops, visual bugs, and an outright hard crash.
However, upon reaching the island, my thoughts changed completely. The story grows in speed and excitement, offering new allies and villains, a cult following, interesting lore, and a whole new mystery to wrap my head around. Even mechanically, the island represents a miniature open world, more massive than any other area in the series. Good fun is the way the game’s story drags you around the island, whether you’re solving the mystery of ancient underground ruins or fighting secret slaves who wait for the embers to hatch. By the end of my playing time, I felt like I knew its layout very well.
This part of the game impressed me the most because everything is firing on all cylinders. Simple puzzles that let you manipulate your aversion to fire to take down rat enemies have always satisfied me—using a special projectile to extinguish an enemy’s only flame, the rats Allows to feast upon his living body, never getting old. The twists and turns of the story kept me guessing, as did the central mystery of the island.
Requiem is also visually stunning, as Asobo creates an almost graphical look for the game with unique and playful color palettes that exquisitely complement the medieval setting. I remember a moment when it seemed like everything around De Runes was coming crashing down on him, and Requiem represented it visually with a unique, almost greyscale, palette that enhanced the attached metaphorical darkness. At other moments, I found myself pampering with photo mode to capture the colorful beauty of the flowers blooming on the shores of this lovely island. Requiem is truly a treat for the eyes.
Elsewhere, Crash Bandicoot-like sequences that see Amicia running toward the screen from a massive horde of rats, or running in the opposite direction to safety, are notably a break from the game’s otherwise quiet but tense stealth moments. was welcomed. These sections talk about the more bombastic nature of Requiem, which sometimes goes places where I can be totally screwed here, and I don’t think you’ll believe me anyway. Again, I want to emphasize how the scale and size of the epic Requiem is — it is innocuously larger than it is in every way. Even beyond the story, there are new additions to Amicia and Hugo’s arsenal, such as a one-hit-kill crossbow (don’t count on this too much, as arrows are hard to come by) or Hugo’s ability to control rats and feast on your Nearby enemies, before moment-to-moment gameplay.
Still, despite the fun I had in getting to the island, I can’t help but think Asobo could have cut through a big part of the game. That’s not to say that the sections I want to trim down are bad—they’re good because of A Plague Tale’s quality gameplay and storytelling—but they feel like unnecessary padding that hinders Requiem’s pacing.
I was relieved when the second set of credits for Requiem began. Not because I didn’t enjoy playing the game, but because the journey of De Runes in this game is too stressful and stressful for it. Sometimes, it takes too long and oddly saddened to focus your attention on De Runes to fake, aches and pains. At other times, I praised Asobo’s command for this series, its rat-infested stealth mechanics, and its gorgeous story. Fortunately, the latter shores up the former, and Requiem seems like much more than just a follow-up. With this journey behind me, I’m excited about where the series could go from here, but if Asobo plans a break for the franchise, rest assured that Requiem goes out with an impressive bang.