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    dkirschner's A Plague Tale: Innocence (PC)

    [June 3, 2020 07:51:41 AM]
    This game was hyped hard. I had no idea what to expect except: (1) people loved it, (2) it's set in plague-era France, and (3) there are lots of rats. This was to my benefit because one criticism a lot of people have is that the story goes into left field. I accepted the supernatural cult-ish stuff with open arms. Even though it was out there, it made the game more interesting.

    The main thing I enjoyed, besides the visuals, music, and setting, was the relationship between Amicia (main character, older sister) and Hugo (child brother, develops gift). Their relationship is consistently strained and they play their roles well. Amicia is the protective one, and Hugo embraces being childlike and full of wonder. Even in the midst of a plague, he runs ahead of Amicia playing, makes loud noises when he shouldn't, wants to see his mom, and so on. Amicia struggles to quell his childlike tendencies because they are in serious adult situations (being hunted by the Inquisition, navigating levels full of deadly rats, and so on).

    So, there is this cool tension here between seriousness and play, and I feel that the gameplay and story reflect this. Perhaps it is this tension that people criticize when they dislike the gameplay and narrative realism contrasted with, or morphing into, typical video game tropes and power fantasies toward the end.

    The huge drawback of the game is its linearity. I recently played Dishonored 2, a game where you can complete any objective numerous ways, so this was especially frustrating. An example: On a farm, you have to lure rats away with meat. Amicia says that it doesn't matter if the meat is dead or alive. You have previously passed piles and piles of dead pigs, but no amount of looking near the dead pigs provides one you can interact with. There is one live pig, however. I didn't want to kill it (it was cute), but the game, after telling you there are options, forces you to kill the live pig. As others have mentioned, the game gives you tells moments before something or someone you like will die, which does feel a bit artificial.

    The game frequently makes it seem like you have choices, but you do not. You'll stealth through an entire level only to have been caught all along at the end, or set up an elaborate rat-prevention system only for the rats to have busted through it all along in the end (and then you have to re-trace your steps through this puzzle for the THIRD time--I hate this puzzle). You are drip-fed new ammo types for your sling. Two of them I didn't use one time after the tutorials. You'll rely on just a few ammo types. The stealth parts are less open-ended puzzles and more scripted sequences wherein there is a correct way to pass. This also made dying frustrating because 100% of the time you knew what you were trying to do, but you stepped too close to some rats, or the sluggish combat system didn't allow you to aim quickly enough at an approaching guard, and you have to start the slow sequence over.

    But you know what? In the end, when I was controlling rats and feeling like a power-hungry Crispin Glover in Willard, none of the game's problems mattered. TL;DR: If you can put up with a slow, linear game with a decent story and substandard combat for a while, you will be rewarded with rat tornadoes.
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    dkirschner's A Plague Tale: Innocence (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Sunday 31 May, 2020

    GameLog closed on: Tuesday 2 June, 2020

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Great setting, neat rats, not as scary as I thought. ------------ Worth playing for the rat tornadoes.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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