Tuesday 15 October 2019

A Plague Tale Innocence review: Hope amid the horror

(XO/PS4/PC) **** Age: 18+

A Plague tale: Innocence
A Plague tale: Innocence
Giga Wrecker Alt
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Slithering, hissing, squealing - the sights and sounds of the rat hordes never fails to set your skin crawling in gorgeous medieval adventure A Plague Tale. The story of two young innocents fleeing the murderous Inquisition in 14th-century France, APTI gives you a second enemy to constantly fear: the ravenous rodents who hunt in packs and baulk only at fire.

Spirited teen Amicia constantly leads her vulnerable little brother Hugo away from danger, stealthily escorting him past shortsighted soldiers and protecting him from the rat swarm that periodically emerges from nowhere. The set-up is a call-back to genre classics such as The Last of Us or Ico, where the lead character shields a weaker companion from evil.

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Amicia has little to defend herself besides a sling used mostly for distraction and sometimes setting the rats on the soldiers is her only option. That macabre tactic is characteristic of the grim tone that pervades APTI. But through all the grisly visions, the endless dead bodies lost to the bubonic plague and the perpetual bleakness of their quest, the growing bond between sister and brother keeps hope alive.

Warmly voice-performed by the child actors (even more so in the original French dialogue option), the unfolding story manages to overcome most of the clunkiness in the gameplay. You may tire of the sneak-find fire-sneak loop but you won't easily forget Amicia and Hugo's journey.


Giga Wrecker Alt

(Switch/PS4/XO) *** Age: 12+

From Gamefreaks, the people who make the global smash Pokemon, comes this curio, a rather less ambitious Metroidvania. GWA looks a throwback to another era with its simplistic side-scrolling visuals but luckily there's more heart beneath this rudimentary skin.

The basic gist involves a cyborg girl (who charmingly shouts "begorrah" during attacks) who infiltrates a robot factory to exact revenge for the end of humanity. Or something.

Anyway, she can summon lumps of junk to bash the bots or just make steps to higher areas. GWA is let down by imprecise controls but your gradually growing abilities and the fun physics puzzles compensate somewhat. Suffice to say, this side-project will not be troubling Pokemon in the sales stakes but it has a certain appeal for fans of the genre.

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