- Version Played: Xbox Series S
I was honestly expecting a kind of “walking simulator” from this, but it’s very much a stealth-puzzle game with a heavy focus on story. A Plague Tale is set in 14th century France, you are the daughter of a lord, your brother has a mysterious illness and you are both forced on the run when the inquisition attacks, killing your family.
For the most part, I found the story to be very engaging, even if it is filled with a ton of young adult fantasy tropes. The game also crosses the line for suspension of disbelief, the game starts off feeling very realistic before this plague of rats comes along, which I had no option with, but then the game introduces alchemy as though it just a regular thing, with you meeting a 10 year old apprentice who acts like a complete master. The main mystery kept me going, although the game leaves a lot open to be answered in the sequel.
The gameplay is a stealth game, and getting spotted almost always results in death, you can’t run away, hide and try again. Throughout the game, you will gain lots of tools to throw or use with your sling, such as basic rocks, flaming rocks that can set things on fire (things like wood, you can’t just set armoured people on fire), or pots to cause a distraction. Each stealth section is like a puzzle, where you have to work out which objects to use and where to get past the enemies.
These objects need to be found or crafted, so there is limited supply. This makes things suspenseful, but it does mean that you can run out of things and be unable to progress, having to restart the chapter. I almost got to this, but ended up finding rocks by walking most of the way to the start of the level (you can only use rocks found in bags, I walked down a long stream with loads of pebbles to find this bag). It’s also possible to be caught in a bad checkpoint and have no other option.
There are a few sections where direct combat is the only option, with you having to use the sling to kill enemies running at you. These sections are quite annoying, and there’s one really bad section in the final chapter, where you can miss enemies through what seems to be random chance.
There’s a lot to like about A Plague Tale, but also a lot of annoyances. Hopefully these can be sorted for the next game.