A Plague Tale: Requiem

released on Oct 18, 2022

A Plague Tale: Requiem is an action-adventure game similar to its predecessor. The player assumes control of Amicia and must face against both soldiers from the French Inquisition and hordes of rats that are spreading the black plague. Gameplay is largely similar to the first game, though the combat system is significantly expanded. The game features a progression system in which the player will be awarded additional skills and abilities. Stealth players will unlock skills that allow them to sneak around more efficiently, while those who prefer a more lethal approach will unlock additional combat skills. Locations are also larger, giving players additional options to progress.


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I think it's important to note right away, assuming this account somehow at sometime becomes valuable to future scholars, that relative to the first game Requiem is a slog. Which isn't to say that it doesn't go, but this game is devout in its belief of more being good.
The story, or should I say plot, asks the least of this fervor for more because it mostly says what players of the first game already knew. The Boy is a menace, but The Sister loves him, and The Sister is also The Player Character, so The Boy must be saved. To both Innocence and Requiem's credit, the obviousness of the problem fails time after time to subsume the narrative. From a pointillist's perspective I'd eagerly argue Asobo Studio is wasting its time with this, but thanks to the fantastic imagination of their environmental artists and game designers these games - and this game in particular - are quite fascinating.
Being a video game, let's address that bit. This is a sequel to a game in which the main character primarily wielded a slingshot and some pots. The slingshot had to be charged and the pots couldn't kill, no matter their contents. At various moments Innocence tries to address this with a new elemental effect, a crossbow and even the critters by which it's predecessor demanded attention, unfortunately its DNA often demands at least one death animation if not a scramble towards guides that not only tell you to do what you've been doing but make it sound easier than serving a single scoop of ice cream.
The combat explicitly stank whenever it was highlighted by Innocence, and whatever satisfaction this sequel allows the player is often couched more in the conquering of sub-menus than the men their elementally infused rocks and pots allowed for. But Requiem seems to think otherwise, replacing typical boss fights with arenas upon which a mysterious number (imagine every enemy type you've seen prior to said arena - hell, imagine every enemy you might expect to see in said arena while collecting materials before you trigger their entrance) of enemies descend upon you ... and yet it does all build to this one conflict that feels all the more satisfying for the knowledge that makes it quickly become as manageable as it appears overwhelming. So maybe I insisted on being dense for too long.
(I had to edit this in after the fact so I'm making it parenthetical just in case, BUT: more than anything, I spent most of this game marveling at its lighting. Particularly later in the game when both story and setting can be very dark, Innocence is VERY dark. Some of the more open areas carry a Red Dead Redemption 2 level of verisimilitude as well. The motion capture, facial animation and general cinematography belies the studio's budget, but the objects those variables sometimes fail are ALWAYS stunning. Despite the many, many inspirations you can immediately recognize Asobo Team drawing from, their results are fascinating.)
Still, being a year in which so many sequels seemed to understand "more complicated" as "more interesting", A Plague Tale takes the crown. Horizon held its ground against the bloat, God of War sashayed its way through several game designers' ambitions and The Last of Us Part I shied away from reinvention period (I swear I played more than Sony first party games!) but this game is absolutely dense with, well, game.
The really neat thing about both of Asobo Team's Plague Tale games is that despite their ambitions they have no interest in ignoring the core of video games. Sometimes this makes some of their dramatic beats absolutely comedic, but then even in their storytelling Asobo seems eager to ask themselves "if we already did X, what the hell is Y?"
This game has seventeen chapters - and some of them aren't much more than walking and talking - yet Asobo finds a way at every turn to make the player feel like a part of the story their telling. In the press for Innocence it seemed like they loved to point at Uncharted and Brothers as frames of reference. But here they've realized what I felt the first game was straining to commit to: this is a story about blinding passion, unrealistic faith and absurd love.
I'd never say this Plague Tale sequel is a better game than The Last of Us Part II but I think it has a more intuitive understanding of what it means to manipulate the player into being a villain.
So here is where I'll say it: this game is full of likable characters, but only a madman could love them. I love the reasons why the eight or so main characters in this game are all incapable of recognizing the shadows they cast - that number comes off the cuff, so I'd like to note that Hugo is absolutely not included in that count - but it also makes for a wildly incongruous experience. For those who've played the first game, it should come as no surprise that every festival is a funeral, nor every companion a friend.
But when you recognize that early (or remember it from the first game) and catch what the chapter breaks are implying (like the first game) you can be gifted with this truly unique amalgamation of Resident Evil 4, whichever Wicker Man you please, The Last of Us and Rise of the Tomb Raider that is truly bizarre. Because environmental art costs what it costs so many games have chosen to either bask in the relatively cheap labor of the Philippines or cross their fingers that animation, art or - ugh - gameplay will dominate the trailers and criticism.
Like Innocence before it, Requiem spends all of its time finding new ways for you to use its tools. I found this took nearly half the game to get used to, as you spend most of the game with four interactions containing five (four?) modifiers selected via either one supremely dense weapon wheel or fully logical yet no less mystical hot buttons on the d-pad. I'd love to say that when I'd finally earned more capacity for crafting materials (the game doles out some core character progression based on, supposedly, your play style) I got more inventive during combat, but it's honestly impossible to enjoy this game's definition of conflict after playing Horizon, Elden Ring and God of War this year, let alone some rabbit in a hat like Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando.
Or, y'know, Resident Evil 4 or Last of Us Part II. The Last of Us Part I had this problem as well I suppose but the latter game really hammered home that just because the player/protagonist alerted some foes doesn't mean they can't just find the progression point and nope the fuck out. Requiem loves punishing a player who finds the exit before they've introduced death to whichever lumbering oafs know that door or hatch means asylum.
Anyway, yes, not always a great game! However, as I said before but couldn't possibly emphasize enough what this game aspires to be and what it is fascinates me. Without saying more than amounts to a sales pitch, this game imagines a world in which H.R. Giger were asked to dream about and then illustrate Ellie Williams (The Last of Us - don't worry, I had to look it up too) and Nathan Drake (Spider-Man's alterego) noshing s'mores and sharing each others' adventures.
But that's also barely this game at all! Despite some clear animation shortcomings this may be the best looking game of 2022, and despite a heavy dose of schlock this story worthy of being told by a game this year as well. I recognize this is particular to the Playstation 5's DualSense but there are two specific moments during the game's last five or so chapters where the combination of contextual rumble and trigger pull blew me away. Especially in the trigger's case, I'm talking about a situation anybody who's played a Naughty Dog game from Crash 2 onward would be familiar with. It's relatively rote, even bland, in description. Yet I was absolutely roped in, as though I'd never helped Nathan Drake scale a train before.
I don't have a full paragraph for this because ultimately I'm an idiot and even I could tell most of this game's puzzles were pretty elementary, but if the imperative was to create 17 (disclosure: yes, 17 chapters, but not all 17 carry the same weight) mutations of the previous game's puzzles, they both mildly succeeded at replicating the first game and spectacularly failed at making Naughty Dog's Portal 2. Said another way, it's fun to see these puzzles for what they are up to the point they refuse to be anything else, and then you're just stuck following a script you've never read, merely acted out wrongly over and over.
And I think that's ultimately where this franchise - franchise? - wins with me - the bit from the paragraph before the last! It isn't just that the first game was wildly propulsive and charming in its Cleveland-esque ambitions, nor that the second game satisfactorily delivers on the promises of said propulsion or ambition. This game's a bit of a mess at times (I'm not sure I said it just before so I'll make it plain now: the sling Amecia relies on might be cute and she may only be 15 but them blokes got iron helmets and chain mail) and from the vantage of a Goodyear blimp I think the real evil behind the rat infestation of 15th century southern France is clearly the player characters we puppeteered along the way...but I can't help but root for these kids.
Rats off to ya.

First off, this game is absolutely beautiful and also ran like a charm. I've been playing it on a 3080 with basically everything on max and only dipped below 60 fps once.
For the game itself, I really loved it, but it probably could have been about 1-2 hours shorter. Nevertheless, the story is great and there are a lot of great new characters which you really come to like and love through the game.
If you've played the first one I highly recommend this for you as well, it's even better in my opinion.

I love you
But when you're gone
There'll be Nothing else
I'll be all alone
All alone
It's more Plague Tale!.. for better or for worse. I might as well start off with what makes it good, and there's defintiely some weight there. Plague Tale: Requiem is a whole lot more "serious" than its predecessor in that its a darker and more depraved game, which in theory doesn't make any media "better" but with a topic as traumatically heavy as the Black Plague, I think is necessary. Requiem doesn't shy away from death in its most cruel and encroaching forms. Characters close to Amicia and Hugo will perish, entire populations will vanish, and the two constantly weigh the consequences of their actions and quest to right the proverbial ship. The game doesn't only do this through the story, but with the backgrounds and environments that the two travel through. After spending much of the first game in Guyenne, the growing party spend much of Requiem in transit. While many of these locations are luscious at first, thanks to some amazing environmental work by Asobo, they quickly descend into dilapidated warzones dripping with plague-borne ooze and despair. I think this allowed me to get more emotionally invested in the game than its predecessor, I found myself groaning less at the dialogue/conversations because I was consistently grossed out by what I was looking at, which is a good thing. Overall I think characters were written much better; Hugo was way less annoying than in the first game, Lucas was actually fun to be around, Arnaud plays a good guardian, and Amicia leans in to the derangement necessary to defeat the evil at hand. While I'm not a fan of Amicia's voice actress, the writing of her character made her a very compelling sibling protagonist.
The story was also quite good in Requiem, though I don't think it (nor Ragnarok) should have been nominated for this at the game awards. Ultimately the themes don't get too deep, other than trying to find a cure for Hugo and defeating the Plague Rat issue, but The Last of Us didn't get too deep either outside of being a story more about humans against humans. I'm not trying to compare the two, because The Last of Us 1 is nearly a flawless game, but I think the commonality in a worldwide destructive illness and how humans react to it tie the two's stories, rather than being more philosophical. Plague Tale 2's narrative jumps around a bit and has some fairly obvious twists, but I found it compelling enough to see it all the way through the end, because it was satiating enough and the writing of characters made me kind of want to see their resolutions.
Now it made read that I was more favorable on the game than I was with Innocence, which is true to a point but there were a number of things not improved from first title to sequel. The first being the combat, it's still really bad... it's samey and motonous and any fighting involving the sling and crossbow take waaaaaaaay too long. If you're being attacked by multiple characters, it's effectively just a kite simulator in which you have to find an impediment to enemy movement, run five steps away, throw a sling, run five steps away, repeat. Even though you can upgrade the sling motion (which was hard because the game doesn't regularily give you enough resources to do this,) it's not enough to give you any flow to fighting. Amicia still has to rev it up and watch as the enemies run a little too fast at her, often times requiring other ammo types to defeat. This was also annoying, and ultimately was my problem with Scarlet Nexus (I bet you didn't think I'd include that here.) In Requiem, much like Scarlet Nexus, the player is given a ton of tools for defeating the enemies. But this is a guise to hide enemy variety, because just like with SN each of these concoctions made by Lucas are used for a certain enemy type. This means that the player doesn't really have agency to how they want to fight (which is key in gaming) but just has to match the type of alchemical item to whatever enemy is running at them, that got annoying and always will in games.
Another issue I had with Requiem, that I also had recently with GoW: Ragnarok, is the just constant puzzling for absolutely no reason. I'm staunchly anti-puzzle, but I can excuse it in games like Resident Evil or Zelda where they make it flow well enough with the game or encourage the player to succeed through self-discovery. Requiem's puzzles are just there... they're not hard, they're not fun, they're just there, and are EVERYWHERE. You're rarely given a hint, and the obnoxiousness of the puzzles being there just to pack in gametime only frustrated me throughout the narratively intense moments in the story.
Requiem was also rather buggy with enemy movement, often times if you were about to exit an area after sneaking through a plethora of guards and had alerted just one, they would teleport through a wall and stop you. I get that the devs wanted you to "sneak the right way" by either taking out all the guards or getting through undetected, but it got annoying how often I was penalized from reaching the objective while an alarm was raised. Maybe there's a "git gud" here but I found it far more annoying than not.
While A Plague Tale: Requiem is exactly what I was looking for Innocence's sequel narratively speaking, the constant puzzling for the sake of puzzling and lack of improvement to combat is not enough to warrant a higher rating. I wouldn't recommend Plague Tale as a series, but if you want a story taking place in a unique period in gaming (The Hundred Years War/Black Plague,) maybe you should start the under twenty hour A Plague Tale: Requiem

A Plague Tale: Requiem tem, acima de tudo, uma trilha sonora impecável. Não posso deixar de mencionar isso, pois ela é simplesmente fantástica e foi muito bem aplicada, não se excede na exposição e compõe com maestria as cenas do jogo.
Além disso, felizmente, Requiem melhora em quase tudo que o primeiro pecou, os quebra-cabeça são um pouco mais intuitivos, o gameplay é mais dinâmico/polido e o jogo é mais variado, com n-formas de se passar de fase.
Entretanto, em diversos momentos senti que a protagonista (Amicia) se explicava demais, inclusive na resolução de puzzles e afins, o que me tirou um pouco de paciência. Lado outro, ressalto que a dublagem/atuação da Charlotte McBurney foi excelente, digna de premiação.
Em termos de enredo, não tenho nada a reclamar. Particularmente, gostaria que Requiem fosse mais ousado com a sexualidade da Amicia, mas não foi o foco do jogo e tá tudo bem.

From the developers who watched a Lets Play of The Last of Us,

Really conflicted. In spite of an amazing story and an amazing foundation, the gameplay is a letdown. While Innocence overloaded you with rat avoidance puzzles and forced you into weird combat situations with wonky combat in the endgame, this game overloads you with weird combat situations with wonky combat almost the entire time.
I appreciate what Asobo went for with reworking the combat, and I do believe that some of the encounters in this game are fantastic in a nearly Last of Us Part 2 kind of freedom. But using the sling and the elements in play just do not work in active combat, and the one item that feels great to use for this (the crossbow) has severely limited ammo.
And when so much of the game this time is more action-heavy than Innocence, it unfortunately sinks the game quite a bit.
That said, I still think this game is stronger than the first in terms of its side characters. The core relationship is stronger and better-written, with Amicia and Hugo's actors delivering the performance of a lifetime. The game also has such good writing to the point that I was an emotional mess during the near-credits. But it's all about that gameplay loop, and what I played was frustrating and disappointing at times.
A really really good game that somehow self-sabotages itself from being a masterpiece.