A Plague Tale: Requiem Review

Oh, rats…
A Plague Tale Requiem Header

The year is 1348. Six months have passed since the Inquisition was taken down a peg, and our heroes Amicia and Hugo de Rube are getting a well-earned chance to enjoy their childhood. Gone are the rats that menaced them in A Plague Tale: Innocence, and all seems normal and nice. All is about to go horribly, horribly wrong, sending on another desperate journey through A Plague Tale: Requiem.

A Plague Tale: Requiem opens with a tutorial on sneaking around in the form of a game of hide-and-seek with your alchemist friend, Lucas. Hugo seems to have shaken off the bloodborne disease from the first game, and he has had a blissful few months of just being a normal kid.

Despite the 10 years between them, the bond between Amicia and her 5-year-old brother Hugo is so strong, it’s almost tangible. The love these two have for each other, and even with their friend Lucas, is immediately visible and resolute, and this is something that endures throughout the game. Even if you haven’t played the first game, you instantly form an attachment to our protagonists.

But this isn’t a game of playing hide-and-seek with your little brother. Your antics wind you up in the murderous eyes of an angry farmer with a hatchet. One misunderstanding leads to another, and Amicia is forced to kill again to save her and her brother’s life. The stress is too much for Hugo and his disease — and all that comes with it (hint: it involves swarms of rats) — returns.

What follows is a fascinating and beautiful journey for our siblings – Hugo’s dreams drawing them to an island that will bring a cure for his Macula and his sister’s plight alike. For Hugo, this is a physical journey of traversing the world looking for the cure he literally keeps dreaming of. For Amicia, the journey is also a mental one as she is forced to kill many times, squaring the burden of this with the PTSD that is clearly brewing behind her eyes.

A Plague Tale Requiem Crossbow

The scurrying little demons from the first game are back, destroying cities and eating their denizens alive in the process. Throughout all of this, Amicia, Hugo and Lucas need to avoid being eaten alive while sneak their way past countless enemies who are not looking to forgive their trespasses.

Mechanically, this is much the same as the first game. Sneak if you can, but kill if you must. The little demons hate the light, but the light reveals your position to the enemy, making for an excellent game of rat and mouse. Whether you’re a cat in this admittedly tortured analogy depends on your play style.

Armed with a sling, Amicia can either take the human enemies down David-and-Goliath style, or you can send a menace of rats their way by plunging them into darkness, removing their only protection against the chittering doom at their feet. She also has a new crossbow that expands her options. Each kill affects the characters, commenting on your choice while trying their hardest to justify what needs to be done.

Being the 14th century, all light comes from either sunlight or flames. Flames are extinguished or rekindled using alchemical ammo — Ignifer to light fires and Extinguis to put them out. These can be combined with a sling, a pot (for a grenade-style weapon) or crossbow bolt through a quick crafting menu, opening up a range of solutions to the world before you.

A Plague Tale Requiem Rats

Of course, not everything is sneaky combat; the puzzles from the first game are back, though they are still simple at best. Unfortunately, at time of playing, they are also quite buggy in places, though all the ones we encountered were noted by the developers as having fixes coming in a day one patch

Bugs aside, the team at Asobo and Focus Entertainment have built a stunning game that is both challenging and compelling. Atmospherically, it is utterly brilliant; graphically, it’s totally stunning (although zooming in on the cardboard-like birds in photo mode really amuses me); and narratively the game is a masterpiece. I am well and truly endeared to the de Runes, and love doing my bit to help them get the respite they so clearly need and deserve.

A Plague Tale Requiem Ship

The photo mode is both a blessing and a curse. It’s great fun examining the world around you, but it’s very quickly apparent that it is very, very abusable. For the first chunk of the game you don’t yet have the ability to detect nearby enemies, but you do have the unintentional power of Photo Mode. Many a time when I wanted to count the soldiers or look for a puzzle solution, I would hit pause, go to photo mode and ‘God-mode’ scoped out the room because you can walk through walls and floors, and go pretty far from Amicia in the process. This utterly flattens out the tension, but it’s a bit too useful not to abuse.

A Plague Tale: Requiem gave me the chills. The graphics, sound design and writing are all phenomenal, and the gameplay is fantastic. There are a few issues with sneaking sections feeling samey, the puzzles being a little too easy, but these are forgivable for just how excellent Amicia and Hugo are as characters. If you enjoyed the first game, or you’re just looking for something narratively compelling, Requiem is the game for you.
  • Excellent writing, graphics and sound design
  • The characters are nuanced and likeable
  • Who doesn’t love a strong female lead?
  • Dependable stealth and combat
  • Sneaking sections can get a little repetitive
  • Puzzles are still a little easy
Written by
Barely functional Pokémon Go player. Journalist. Hunter of Monster Hunter monsters. Drinks more coffee than Alan Wake.