If you’ve completed A Plague Tale: Innocence, you know that Amicia and Hugo have been through a lot together. And from what I’ve seen of the sequel so far, A Plague Tale: Requiem has solidified their bond, but they are still looking to cure Hugo completely. Unfortunately, after the first game’s happyish ending, it would seem that trouble has caught up with the pair yet again and you’ll need to use every tool in your arsenal to get out alive. At least now that kit includes the full gamut of abilities from the first game at their disposal, with a few new tricks and some friends who are more than willing to offer a hand.
My preview took me through Chapter 6, which showcased Amicia’s newfound viciousness, and Hugo’s rat empowerment ratcheted up to 11. Hugo can now see through walls and control rats on a whim, but if he gets too carried away, a flood of the vermin will put him and his sister at risk. As we’ve already previewed this section, I’ll just briefly say that I am very impressed with the advancement of visuals as Amicia and Hugo look more realistic than ever before. Their battle scars are on display with details clearly emphasized by marks left, or infections spreading on the surface of their skin. Everything looks clearer than the previous game and it truly seems like the team is pushing the Unreal Engine to make this world pop in all the right ways.
In addition, the somewhat open areas of combat do an amazing job of showing you that the team is not afraid of expanding the map a lot more than before. But don’t expect an open world just yet, or at least not in Chapters 6 or 7, which is what I played. Instead, the areas you’ll be covering will be a lot more open and tricky to stealth your way through. I found myself just barely escaping many of the stealth/combat sequences – and I liked that. It gives a good balance of vulnerability for these two characters while also showcasing their new abilities, should you choose to go the violent route.
Visually, I really loved the fantastic use of Quixel Bridge, a tool used by Unreal creators that lets games use community assets. In Requiem’s case, it’s used to create a wide set of landscapes – from lush and gorgeous fields filled with flowers and pebble walkways, to rock-faced landscapes that melt into a beach filled with shipwrecks. The levels are still linear with a few branches that let you explore, but the set pieces do a lot to stick in your memory for either their beauty, ruin, or a mixture of both.
And for new puzzle content, four slingshot abilities are still there for you to use, but a crossbow has also been added with the same set of options. You’ll find yourself using this in combat puzzles in combination with other options, like sicking Arnaud on a lone target. This may seem overpowered, but your brute companion makes a lot of noise as he’s cutting down a foe so use him carefully. Hugo also has the ability to control rats at will now and will send them away from an area you need to get across or to eat enemy guards as a snack. But it does come with a limit, as otherwise it would be entirely too powerful. But both of these things, as well as Amicia’s stun or stealth takedown options, give you a lot of choices when entering combat. You’ll likely need to use all of it to solve each puzzle because at this point there are more guards than before and one slip-up will end your journey.
The goal in Chapter 7, meanwhile, is to get you a ship from pirate leader Sophia. She seems to be looking for a way out of the pirate life, and there’s some foreshadowing that she’ll be another companion on your travels. Here’s hoping her fate is a bit better than others these two have encountered. She’s fierce, mysterious, and hints at a rich story we’ll hopefully uncover more of. We’re introduced to her by Arnaud, a brute who has an instant connection with Hugo, but a terse relationship with Amicia because of a past altercation we’re not given more insight into. Each character has that enigmatic nature going for them, leaving me curious to learn more about their backstory, while also cautious about their involvement. I definitely got enough to be excited to see how it all unfolds as we progress.
Arnaud also gives us a hint at what collaborative puzzle solving looks like, as there’s a great section where you shoot at his shield with a flaming arrow and move through a rat-infested cave toward the exit. It all builds upon those rat-focused puzzles we loved from the original.
Our journey ends by setting off to sea during the middle of a storm and I truthfully cannot wait to see where this puts Hugo, Amicia, and others who’ve joined them on their journey. Based on this portion, the story and gameplay have improved in the exact ways they needed to without changing too much to make it feel foreign or overpowering. I look forward to seeing where this crew’s adventure goes when Plague Tale Requiem lands this October.
Source: IGN Video Games All