The One with the Thoughts of Frans

A Plague Tale: Innocence is boring

I just finished A Plague Tale. It had some merit, but I enjoyed it an awful lot less than The Council. I will for sure not be replaying this one. The graphics are mostly outstanding, but I found the gameplay ranging from somewhat boring to downward frustrating at times, except for the first hour or two when it was very promising. It’s a bit of a mixed bag and I wouldn’t really recommend getting it except to gape at the visuals. The voice acting is also good, in French (in which I played it) as well as in English.

One of the game’s pretty castles. Le château d’ombre, the castle of shadows. Spooky.

The game reminds me of Alan Wake, by which I partially mean the mechanics, but primarily that it’s a game I wanted to like but didn’t. I have nothing against games that aren’t all that much of a game. Life is Strange is one of my recent favorites, and to what extent that’s a game is debatable. But when most of the game feels like annoying filler in between the story there’s something not quite right.

After a while you become painfully aware that the game will randomly prevent you from jumping down a ledge because climbing up on it advanced the story, so bye bye exploration, collectible or fuel that you needed. Sometimes this is done slightly more elegantly with the equivalent of a randomly collapsing or closing doorway instead of an invisible wall, but it’s annoying all the same.

There’s a very contrived mechanic around torches. A torch is vital to our survival? And there are multiple people in our party but we have to put down the torch for a second to climb a ledge? Well blimey, I guess that torch will now be lost forever. Without this continuous torch losing there are some occasionally interesting puzzle aspects that wouldn’t work, but I’m actually surprised I stuck with the game to the end. I suppose I wanted to see more pretty churches, castles, and Roman ruins.

Near the end there was an “emotional” moment that felt incredibly contrived. It was very annoying to boot because there wasn’t a save right prior to it, yet you had a bunch of materials, a whole (optional) cutscene, and the ability to upgrade your equipment. And it’s very easy to die during this contrived sequence. The checkpoint was at the start of the area rather than at the start of the contrived semi-cutscene! This kind of thing happens all too frequently in the game. So there you go, collecting all the things and upgrading your equipment just to do it all over again when you accidentally die on the linear path.

For the € 20-something I paid on GOG it was okay, mainly for the occasionally gorgeous art & graphics. But it’s repetitive, completely on rails, and the story is so-so.


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