A Plague Tale Requiem Review: Gripping Narrative and Memorable Characters
A Plague Tale: Requiem — out Tuesday on PC, PS5, Xbox Series S/X, and Nintendo Switch via the cloud — is set six months after the events of the previous game, A Plague Tale: Innocence. Having survived the grasp of the Inquisition and with the Black Plague rat swarming off their scent, the de Rune family has found some respite in the outskirts of the Provence region. However, a chance encounter with bandits pushes Hugo to his limits, and it is now up to elder sister Amicia to search for a cure for the mysterious Macula poisoning his veins. It is this psychologically and physically downward spiraling journey of the de Rune siblings that is the captivating core of this sequel to 2019’s critically acclaimed A Plague Tale: Innocence.
Developer Asobo Studio has masterfully crafted the narrative of A Plague Tale: Requiem. It progresses in a way that sinks its teeth into you right from the beginning and never let’s go. Adding to that are complex characters who have been given life by some of the best voice acting that I have ever experienced in gaming. Their moments of sorrow, compassion, rage, and despair are elevated by the surreal — and at times, haunting — background score composed by the returning Olivier Derivière.
A Plague Tale: Requiem has been sculpted meticulously in every aspect. Technical improvements to the game engine allowed for over 35fps at the Medium preset at full-HD 1080p resolution on my PC, which has an AMD Ryzen 5 5600X CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a Radeon RX570 GPU. More importantly, the game looks gorgeous even at lower graphics settings. A Plague Tale: Requiem does not lose its visual appeal if you choose to go for improved frame rates. This sequel can pull at your heartstrings with the endearing brother-sister relationship of Amicia and Hugo, while also offering thrilling stealth survival gameplay.
A Plague Tale Requiem review: campaign
As stated previously, A Plague Tale: Requiem’s story picks up six months after the end of A Plague Tale: Innocence. This sequel assumes that you are familiar with the events of the first game, and spends no time jumping into the new adventure. If you haven’t played the first entry, you can still experience the story with a completely fresh perspective.
The game takes place in a new setting — the region of Provence — with new enemies on the tail of Amicia and Hugo. Newcomers to the franchise will not feel completely lost here. References to past events are scattered throughout the campaign to provide some context, without an exposition dump boring you or breaking the intense flow of the narrative. This approach by the writing team ensures that A Plague Tale: Requiem’s story can stand on its own.
As players, we primarily control Amicia throughout the 15-20 hours of the A Plague Tale: Requiem campaign. She is a force of unwavering resolve and will go to any length for the sake of her brother’s health. It is this desire to protect her brother that gets corrupted into disdain for the royal soldiers, mercenaries, and anyone else who might cause harm to Hugo. Her moments of blinding rage — exceptionally voice-acted by Charlotte McBurney — are jaw-dropping.
Despite her strong resolve, Amicia is not invulnerable. Her increasingly violent actions chip away at her sanity and physical well-being. During my playthrough, I felt compelled to take a passive approach, so I might not unwittingly contribute to her psychological downfall — not that it affected the game’s narrative. Still, I felt so emotionally connected to Amicia that I wanted to prevent her from turning into a mindless killer.
Amicia is not alone on this journey through A Plague Tale: Requiem. Other characters offer a helping hand. Hugo, her younger brother, is as sweet as ever but has to risk escalating the hold of the mysterious Macula on him, which allows him to control the rat swarm and protect his sister when she is left incapacitated. Lucas, an alchemy apprentice, accompanies the de Rune family on their journey. He serves as the sound of reason who tries to calm Amicia down during her fits of rage and offers passive alternatives to violence. Finally, Amicia and Hugo’s mother Béatrice cuts a sorry figure — struggling to pick between the desire to keep her children safe and her faith in an ancient order, which may or may not have Hugo’s best interests at heart.
Throughout your playthrough of A Plague Tale: Requiem, you will be accompanied by one or more of these allies — each of whom has unique abilities. Lucas can distract enemies, and constantly comes up with new alchemic recipes to assist in a pinch. Hugo gets more attuned to the rat swarm and can control it to devour helpless foes. He can even leverage their senses to detect enemies through walls. Other characters assist you on this adventure, either through the goodness of their heart or for personal gain.
A Plague Tale Requiem review: graphics and gameplay
A Plague Tale: Requiem is a visually stunning game with engrossing environments and almost lifelike character animations, especially facial expressions during emotionally charged scenes. Depending on where you find yourself in the story, the levels can be teeming with life or reeking of death. The excellent sound design and masterfully orchestrated background score further pull you into the beautifully horrifying 14th-century France setting that the developer has created.
Technical improvements to the engine underpinning A Plague Tale: Requiem means that there can be up to 300,000 rats on your screen at a time. This allows the rat swarm to take unfathomably monstrous forms, causing death and destruction on a massive scale. There are a few exhilarating chase sequences against the rat swarm that got me sweating. I was not prepared for the apocalyptic horrors that these rats brought, which will no doubt fuel my nightmares in the future.
Amicia is not completely helpless against the rats — or other human foes she encounters on this journey. Yes, A Plague Tale: Requiem focuses on stealth and survival, but it also provides you with a decent arsenal for dispatching enemies. Starting with just a rock and a sling, Amicia will acquire knives, pot bombs, and a crossbow as the game progresses. She can also craft various alchemic mixtures, which can be used to modify the impact of her weapons and tackle environmental puzzles. These increasing options prevent the enemy encounters from becoming stale. The puzzles are also challenging enough to offer you a sense of accomplishment but are not so hard that you are scouring forums online in search of the solution.
Considering the attention to detail that I observed throughout my playthrough, an uncharacteristic shortcoming in A Plague Tale: Requiem is the lone animation for Amicia’s takedowns and counters. (Meanwhile, Amicia’s trembling breaths become more and more audible as an unaware enemy gets closer.) In the beginning, I was skeptical that this might make enemy encounters mundane after a few hours. But thanks to the constant influx of new weapons, abilities, and allies, no level felt the same as there was always room to test alternate approaches.
As you level up, you will be able to unlock new skills, but character progression does not reward you with skill points that you can use to unlock abilities you wish for. Instead, depending on the path you take — stealth, assault, or alchemy — you will unlock new abilities only in that skill tree. A Plague Tale: Requiem takes an interesting approach to progression that I found refreshing.
A Plague Tale Requiem review: verdict
A Plague Tale: Requiem is one of those rare gems that comes when a developer refrains from sullying a great game with AAA fluff. There are no microtransactions anywhere. What we get is a game with a tightly knit narrative, breathtaking visuals, and characters that leave a lasting mark on your heart.
Amicia’s despair and resulting rage as she searches for a cure for the terrible illness plaguing her brother Hugo are bone-chilling. The masterfully written characters of A Plague Tale: Requiem become even more endearing thanks to excellent voice acting. The rich graphics and equally riveting background score further enhance this experience.
Character progression is paced adequately, and the gradual introduction of new allies on your journey prevents A Plague Tale: Requiem’s gameplay from ever becoming stale. Its level design also encourages you to try different approaches as new tools become available to Amicia.
Ultimately, A Plague Tale: Requiem is hands down one of the best single-player campaigns I have played recently.
- Captivating sound design, background score
- Great graphics, even at relatively low settings
- Multiple approaches to levels
- Repetitive takedown, counter animations
Rating (out of 10): 9
We played A Plague Tale: Requiem on a PC with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600X CPU, AMD RX570 GPU, and 16GB of RAM.
A Plague Tale: Requiem is released Tuesday, October 18 on PC, PS5, Xbox Series S/X, and Nintendo Switch (Cloud).
A Plague Tale: Requiem is also part of Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, with subscriptions beginning at Rs. 349 per month on PC and Xbox. The Ultimate membership, including online multiplayer and more, is priced at Rs. 499 per month.