A Plague Tale: Requiem makes one hell of a first impression. We’re yet to really see the true potential of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, and it’s difficult to know what chaos the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought on development pipelines – beyond the countless video game delays we’ve seen in the past two years. That’s why it’s worth paying attention when something new is able to stop you dead in your tracks. A Plague Tale: Requiem looks stunning. From its sprawling wildflower meadows to its densely populated forests to its intricately detailed ruins – developer Asobo Studio is set to once again deliver a world that you’ll be excited to spend time exploring. If you can stomach the sight of the rats, that is.
A Plague Tale: Requiem’s audio and visual design belies its humble AA origins. Asobo isn’t working with the sort of budget or personnel that the Naughty Dogs of this world might be – you have to imagine that The Last of Us: Part 1 had a larger-scale production than this upcoming stealthy adventure game – but still this studio continues to deliver viable alternatives. And there are parallels, outside of the awe-inspiring presentation.
A narrative framed around two journeying characters struggling to survive in a strange land, with brother-sister duo Amicia and Hugo returning for what is sure to be a harrowing adventure. Stealth takes centre stage, pulling focus onto careful and considered movement, as well as decisive, opportunistic engagement with any encroaching enemies. And then there are the puzzles, simple in their structure, but no less effective in giving you (and the characters under your command) a little room to breathe after tension ratchets up to unbearable levels.
Where The Last of Us’ Ellie prolong her survival with a well-placed brick to dissuade overtly-aggressive enemies in her younger years, Hugo is able to take brief command over a writhing, skittering masses of nightmarish plague rats in those moments where it really hits the fan… Okay, so maybe there are some obvious differences between them too. Either way, Requiem’s game director Kevin Choteau is happy when players do draw comparisons between the two. “With A Plague Tale: Requiem, our goal is not to make a bigger, larger, or longer game – it’s to improve the quality. We are huge fans of Naughty Dog, and if we can approach their quality then we will be super happy.”
Brave new world
Fall 2022 Preview
A Plague Tale: Requiem is part of the GamesRadar+ Fall 2022 Preview, which is exploring the most anticipated games set to release before the end of the year.
A Plague Tale: Requiem impressed in the time that I was able to spend with it. It’s clear that Asobo is working smartly to improve the weakest areas of 2019’s A Plague Tale: Innocence. It has tightened the quality of movement and resource management, expanded Amicia and Hugo’s skill-sets, and widened the levels to encourage more imaginative engagement with your surroundings. And not to harp on how good Requiem looks and sounds, but there’s clearly been a sizable investment in everything from motion capture to photogrammetry – a more authentic experience is the result. If this demo is a true reflection of the quality of Requiem as a whole, then we will be talking about this adventure for many a month beyond its October release window.
I was curious whether comparisons to Naughty Dog rankled Asobo – piling pressure onto an already ambitious production, and setting unrealistic expectations for a community who are desperate to once again steer Hugo and Amicia to safety. “You know, it’s because of The Last of Us that we made Innocence,” says Choteau. “We are super impressed every time they release something – Naughty Dog is one gen ahead of everyone else. You look at something like The Last of Us 2 and I don’t know if anyone can compete with that; two years later, it’s still the reference. So we are not ashamed of the fact that they are a big reference for us. We are looking at what they are doing – looking at how its games work and what we can learn from them – to help us improve, and to make Requiem even better.”
A Plague Tale Requiem is one of our most anticipated new games of 2022, and it’s set to release on October 13 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X.