Like the sequel to the indie darling A Plague Tale: Innocence, A Plague Tale: Requiem is ready to make the next chapter a family affair. The headstrong Amicia is once again determined to protect her brother Hugo from her from a church that would seek to use her ability to control swarms of vicious rats for her own personal gain. But while players primarily controlled Amicia in the first outing (sneaking around and throwing rocks to solve puzzles), her younger brother takes on a much more active role in the sequel.
My brief time with A Plague Tale: Requiem was spent on two mid-game chapters, consisting of settings in cavernous tunnels filled with rats, a series of abandoned ships, and an open, desert-like area covered by patrolling guards. Requiem it soon transitioned to the close-quarter stealth sequences that developer Asobo Studio created so intricately in the first game. In this case, they unfold into a series of structures used to dye fabrics. I crafted various alchemicals to light fires, create distractions, and even take down a surly armored enemy by hitting them in the back with rocks and explosive-laden bolts. All of this is in keeping with the tense, stealth-based strengths of InnocenceSure, but this time, stealth has become even more important, with an even smaller margin for error.
Much of this difficulty stems from Hugo’s more active role, which, while offering new abilities to experiment with, adds another level of vulnerability to the duo. Hugo can more accurately command swarms of rats to quickly finish off any enemy soldiers, well-armored or not, that cross their path. And unlike the first game, there’s a greater sense of control over the horde: you can drop into first-person mode and direct where the rats go and who they consume. But while the finer control of the horde may seem overwhelming at first glance, there’s a catch: If Hugo uses his rat command powers for too long, the swarm will go into a frenzy, resulting in an immediate game.
Hugo can also use the swarm to spot soldiers on the paths ahead, with an ability similar to echolocation. This works great for confined spaces with enemies around every corner. In this way, Hugo is both his most powerful asset and his greatest liability. He is not as nosy as Ashley Graham in Resident Evil 4since he can’t be killed or kidnapped by enemies, and isn’t as mechanically inconsequential as Isabel in infinity bioshock – is somewhere in the middle.
The link between Amicia and Hugo, of course, is both a narrative conceit and a mechanical one. Because commanding the rat herd has a lot of compensation, I’ve never really asked Hugo that much. Amicia’s constant warnings reinforced this decision tenfold, and the concern in her voice mirrored the tension in my chest. These moments feel urgent and real, and add to the bond between Amicia and her little brother. There’s a sense of real concern here, which made Hugo more than just an escort character with powers to make my journey easier.
The dialogue between the two remains charming, and when the grizzled knight Arnaud joins the party, Hugo helps ease tensions between the newcomer and the understandably sheltered Amicia. He does more than just provide a means to an end for the player, adding levity to the quieter moments between horrific cutscenes. In general terms, Hugo still plays the role of the “companion character”, but his seriousness and interactions with his sister, along with his sense of fantasy towards the world around him, help to elevate him as a narrative axis. . Even if the dialogue is a bit clunky at times, Amicia and Hugo’s relationship (and her desperate attempt to cure Hugo of his connection to the swarm) makes for an endearing line.
If nothing else, it makes him a valuable companion, despite the dangers inherent in his powers. As closely connected as he is to both the mechanical narrative and the actual script, Hugo feels that he has been designed with intent, unlike the characters who have played the “sidekick” role as an afterthought. It will be interesting to see if the game will be able to hold the landing when it launches on October 18, potentially cementing and further strengthening the bond between sister and brother that made the narrative pulse. A Plague Tale: Innocence a standout to start with.