A Plague Tale: Requiem (PlayStation 5) Review

By Albert Lichi 28.05.2023

Review for A Plague Tale: Requiem on PlayStation 5

A Plague Tale: Innocence was a surprise hit when it came out in 2019. It wowed gamers with its impressive visuals and very grounded depiction of medieval France during the height of the black plague. The big twist to the narrative was a supernatural element involving rats and a little boy named Hugo who could control them at will. At the heart of this drama was his big sister, Amicia de Rune and her arc going from a young noble to a hardened warrior. Armed with only a sling, she and her friends were able to flee the cruel might of the inquisitors and Hugo was able to learn how to control his dark gift. A Plague Tale: Requiem is the successor to this fan favourite and it promises to up the ante in every way possible. How much can a stealthy action-adventure game be improved? Find out in Cubed3's review of A Plague Tale: Requiem.

When A Plague Tale: Requiem begins, it seems very promising. The graphics are an improvement and that is saying a lot since Innocence was already gorgeous looking. The first areas make a statement with large and vast open environments that are dense with details. The opening chapters have Amicia explore a town festival that has large crowds, and each NPC is fashioned with period appropriate attire and unique animations. Regretfully, the visuals come at a cost. Even from the beginning where action is at its most restrained, the PlayStation 5 version can only muster 30-40fps. The very first moment control over Amicia is given, the frame rate jitters. The screen violently tears as the camera is swivelled and spun. On the most powerful console on the market, A Plague Tale: Requiem is unable to run at 60 frames per second. On average, the fluidity seems to maintain 30fps throughout the entire experience and screen tearing is a regular occurrence. As a result, A Plague Tale: Requiem feels like a sputtering mess to play from beginning to end - and it is a very long game. Roughly twice as long as the first.

Screenshot for A Plague Tale: Requiem on PlayStation 5

After adjusting to the erratic frame rate and screen tearing, gamers will be able to appreciate the impressive artistry the boys and girls at Asobo had put into the setting. A Plague Tale: Requiem is set in a somewhat realistic depiction of medieval Europe, but there is a bigger emphasis on the fantastic than in Innocence. Perhaps this was due to the new console specs, but now the scope of villages and architecture far exceed what was possible for 14th century France. Everything is so much grander. There are sprawling dungeons that are festooned with elaborate contraptions, and enormous knights wear bulky armour that would weigh a man down so hard that he wouldn't be able to feasibly move. Any notion that A Plague Tale: Requiem is set in any real-world history is thrown out the window in exchange for spectacle and to facilitate more exciting gameplay. The trade-off of historical accuracy for the sake of the story does ultimately pay-off.

Amicia grows further disillusioned as the story of Requiem unfurls. Hugo's macula is evolving and the massive quantities of rats grow to absurd proportions. A Plague Tale: Requiem doubles down on Amicia's character as she is put through an emotional and physical ringer of a scenario that make her a lot like Guts from the anime/manga, Berserk. Her growing rage and nihilism is portrayed very believably, and the actress delivers a very emotional performance. One detail that is distracting is Amicia's accent. In Innocence, the actress had a very distinct French dialect that further emphasized the setting. It gave her a lot of flavour and made her dialogue memorable. For some reason, the voice actress completely drops the French accent and delivers all her dialogue with her standard English affect. This change is very jarring since it was a large part of the prior game's identity. Most medieval fantasy settings already default to British accents, and for A Plague Tale: Requiem to do the same right after the first standing out is disappointing.

Screenshot for A Plague Tale: Requiem on PlayStation 5

The gameplay is more of the same puzzle-stealth adventure style experience. Amicia will have to press on through tightly scripted environments; sometimes with a partner who has unique abilities which help inject variety in each set-piece. Where Requiem stands out from Innocence is the scope of each location, and the attempts for a more epic sense of adventure. The environments are massive compared to the prior instalment - often with multiple ways to negotiate each instance. Each stealth sequence is packed with variables that facilitates more diverse gameplay compared to the last entry. There are more enemy types and each one has their own gimmicks that make it so Amicia has to approach them differently. She may be a much tougher girl than she was, but she is still a girl who was raised as a noble. Amicia does not ever pick up a sword and shield to dodge roll around armoured Frenchmen. She can do stealth kills with single-use shives like in The Last of Us or use her sling to loudly choke un-armoured sentries. She can only take one hit before the second one kills her, and while she does have a regeneration factor, it is deliberately slow. Engaging with foes is more of a tactical experience - more Kevin McCallister and less Solid Snake.

A Plague Tale: Requiem doubles down on rats - in fact it looks like it decuples their amount. The infestation on display is likely why there is no last gen versions being released. The mass of these rodents flowing like ocean waves cresting and crashing is both mesmerizing and terrifying. Some of the best moments involve the puzzle sequences of having to find a way around the massive horde of ravenous rats. Like before, these creatures hate the light and using braziers, torches, and DIY tools to bypass them is a large part of the fun. Even better is when scenarios mix up both rats and guards in the same instance. These moments are where A Plague Tale: Requiem shines its brightest in establishing tension and memorable situations.

Screenshot for A Plague Tale: Requiem on PlayStation 5

The kinesthetics don't feel like a PlayStation 5 game. As inventive as the gameplay is in concept, the execution is unimpressive. Amicia's actions always are scripted or contextual and sometimes they don't make any sense. A lot of the time she will do things only because that is how she is programmed. An example of this is when slighting a stick, Amicia and whoever her partner is at the time will assume a hand-holding state where the walking speed becomes really slow. Another examples? Sprinting being something she does only in some moments, and she is not able to hop over knee-high ledges or jumping down from a two-metre height. These seem minor at first, but this is full of instances like this where the player's mental model is often shattered. Even when performing contextual actions, Amicia will snap into a position very unnaturally so her mo-capped animation can play. When everything is so intensely contextual, it makes the experience feel artificial.

A special mention must be given to A Plague Tale: Requiem's music. The soundtrack composed by Olivier Deriviere is a very powerful and driving score that breathes. There is a lot of reliance on "psycho strings" that give the impression of frantic, clawing rats, that also parallel Amicia's fractured state of mind. There is a palpable sense of build-up in scripted scenes that are supported by the rising tension in Deriviere's music, and it flawlessly puts the player in the protagonist's head.

Screenshot for A Plague Tale: Requiem on PlayStation 5

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

By the time A Plague Tale: Requiem concludes, it will feel like being dragged by a pick-up truck, across miles of concrete. The world depicted is a bleak and cruel one with no light at the end of the tunnel. Players will be getting their money's worth, as this is a very long game that is punctuated with lots of gimmicky sequences that add value to the package. The story does have a lot for fans to discuss, and the visuals are amazing, even if they came at the cost of a high frame rate. The gameplay is technically better than the first, but it was never amazing to begin with. The over reliance on prebaked contextual actions and the rigidness of simplistic stealth is something most could expect from a seventh gen console title, not a ninth gen console release.

Developer

Asobo

Publisher

Focus

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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