In June, we had the chance to get our hands on A Plague Tale: Requiem for the first time, the direct sequel to Asobo’s action-adventure game featuring Amicia and her younger brother, Hugo. A month before its release, the game let itself be approached one last time to help us understand the extent of its gameplay. One thing is already certain, since the Innocence episode the little mouse has grown.
Under the sun
It is under the scorching sun of Provence that we find our young heroes still hunted down by dangerous soldiers who roam the streets of the Kingdom of France. A few seconds of gameplay are enough to realize the goldsmith work done by Asobo on the game graphics. The views are magnificent, the color palette is rich, the animations are detailed. We are not yet at the level of a Naughty Dog production, but the French developers have released the horses. The music, by Olivier Derivière, is once again flawless. In our demo (which covers the sixth and seventh chapters of the game), Amicia and Hugo are looking for a way to escape, literally. Unfortunately for them, the local mercenaries want to catch them. It must be said that a boy capable of controlling mice accompanied by his older sister at the origin of several murders by the troop has what arouses many lusts.
Like the first episode, Amicia can rely on various objects such as a slingshot and pots to advance through enemy lines. This material helps him to divert the attention of his opponents or to delay or even kill them. If sneaking into tall grass to keep going undetected remains an important part of the gameplay, Requiem goes much further in its mechanics. The major evolution lies above all in the philosophy that embraces the management of weapons and ammunition. Here the player can at any time view a selection wheel that allows him to select the object he wants to use (slingshot, vase, crossbow) but also and above all the type of ammunition to be equipped (incendiary, smoke, explosive, etc.) . ). What appears to be just a simple interface redesign actually brings a lot of depth to the gameplay as it is now possible to mix any type of ammunition with any weapon. Mixing a pot with explosive ammunition, Amicia creates a grenade, adding a little fire to a crossbow bolt, the heroine shoots fire arrows. The examples are numerous.
This improvement goes hand in hand with larger arenas with many narrow passages, platforms to climb on or even sacks of saltpetre to spread.. The level design is more complex than usual in order not to offer a single solution to a problem. Controller in hand, it is clear that Asobo’s bet is a winner. Using Hugo’s different weapons, ammunition and powers (which will be discussed later), the player will emerge from inextricable situations. The enemies, numerous, however, give a hard time: the progression may be less easy than that of the original adventure. Of course Amicia can always count on workbenches to improve her equipment. In addition, the young heroine this time has skills (caution, aggression, opportunism) to enhance.
More seasoned than the epic that took place in Guyenne, Amicia and Hugo have serious concerns about their pursuers. The older sister now knows how to respond to melee strikes. In the event of an impromptu encounter, Amicia can attempt to thwart or stab the enemy, if the young heroine has a knife in her inventory beforehand. Contextual actions that might be described as QTEs are not reserved for combat. During the infiltration phases in the tall grass, a stone can be thrown in extremis if a guard is about to find the duo. Additionally, a warrior who gets too close can also be burned alive with a well-thrown torch.
Compared to the first A Plague Tale, escape is less synonymous with game over than before. The player who manages to break the lines of sight of the opponents after a general alert will be able to get away with it without a scratch. Hugo, meanwhile, still has the bond with the mice he acquires at the end of the first game, but his powers vary. With a simple press of the directional button at the bottom, the little brother is able to locate lurking enemies like a walking sonar. There is no need to own the latest Sam Fisher technology when you have a baby whispering in rodent ears. More interestingly, Hugo has the ability to transfer his mind to that of swarms of mice. The player can then rush towards the soldiers and climb past certain surfaces like an alien would do in Alien Vs Predator.
These different abilities generate a pleasant complementarity between the two protagonists.. Freer in what he can do, which contrasts with the often unique solutions of the first episode, the player must scrupulously observe his environment before acting. He can sneak in with Amicia if he wishes, put out the fires with saltpetre, which opens the way for the swarms of mice controlled by Hugo. Sure, we find soldiers with long-range weapons to be eliminated as a priority in order to advance, but in what we tested on these two chapters, few constraints were imposed on how to succeed in an arena. The many ways to interact with the elements of decoration, the weapons, but also the enemies for the moment do the job very well: Asobo seems to have been able to rely on the mechanics put in place rather than on the scripts.
This time spent in the company of Amicia and Hugo confirms all the good that we already thought about the title. A Plague Tale: Requiem suggests richer gameplay than the first episode, while maintaining quality staging. Closer to medieval Splinter Cell than a simple hide-and-seek narrative game, Asobo’s software meets all our expectations for the moment. From now on, we can’t wait to discover the adventure in its entirety. A Plague Tale: Requiem will be released on October 18, 2022 on PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X \ S and Switch (via Cloud). It will be available on launch day in Game Pass.