Going into A Plague Story: Requiem, developer Asobo Studio’s follow-up to 2019’s A Plague Story: Innocence, I used to be ready for the same old leap in high quality and scale that the majority sequels embrace. I underestimated simply how vital that leap can be, although. Calling Requiem a typical sequel is a disservice; Asobo has created a Plague Story epic. It feels Odyssean in scope and storytelling prowess. Though a lot of it got here collectively for me by the tip of my 20-plus hour journey via medieval France, the sport feels strained by its sheer dimension, particularly in its first half. Nonetheless, I’m extra impressed by Requiem’s boldness and close to across-the-board enhancements than not.
Requiem begins roughly six months after the occasions of Innocence, and whereas it’s potential to piece collectively what’s occurring in the event you’re new to the collection, I’d actually advocate enjoying Innocence or at the very least getting caught up on its story earlier than Requiem. Siblings Amicia and Hugo de Rune are searching for a semblance of an strange life, regardless of Hugo’s rat-infested Macula situation. And for a while, the sport demonstrates what that normality is like for Amicia, Hugo, and their mom. Nonetheless, as you may guess, the Macula plague begins to rear its ugly head as soon as extra, forcing Amicia again into protector mode. This shift sees Amicia, Hugo, and returning alchemist Lucas journey south to a mysterious island, trying to find solutions and a remedy.
I used to be enthusiastic about this modification in setting and all of the “new” it brings to the collection, but it surely takes far too lengthy to succeed in it. Not less than half of this recreation is spent escaping your new dwelling to succeed in a ship that sails to the island. Don’t get me incorrect, these 10 to 12 hours are good Plague Story enjoyable, however they resemble Innocence a lot that, at occasions, it hardly felt just like the contemporary expertise I anticipated from a sequel. It largely dragged on, regardless that I used to be assembly characters that might turn out to be a few of my favorites within the recreation, like battle-hardened however soft-hearted Arnaud or pirate queen Sophia. It didn’t assist that I skilled numerous technical points like distracting (however not game-breaking) framerate drops, visible bugs, and one full arduous crash.
Upon reaching the island, although, my ideas modified fully. The story ramps up in tempo and pleasure, introducing new allies and villains, a cult, intriguing lore, and a brand new thriller to wrap my head round. Even mechanically, the isle represents a miniature open world to discover that’s extra sprawling than every other space within the collection. The best way the sport’s narrative pulls you right here and there on this island is nice enjoyable, whether or not you’re fixing the thriller of historic underground ruins or combating off secretive slavers awaiting the Youngster of Embers. By the tip of my playtime, I felt like I intimately knew its structure.
This a part of the sport impressed me essentially the most as a result of all the pieces is firing on all cylinders. Ingenious puzzles that allow you to manipulate the rats’ aversion to fireside to make them stealthily take down enemies at all times happy me – utilizing a particular projectile to extinguish an enemy’s sole flame, permitting the rats to feast on their dwell physique, by no means grew outdated. The story’s twists and turns saved me guessing, as did the island’s central thriller.
Requiem is visually beautiful, too, as Asobo has crafted an nearly painterly search for the sport with distinctive and playful coloration palettes that complement the medieval setting excellently. I recall a second when it appeared like all the pieces across the de Runes was crashing down atop them, and Requiem represented that visually with a novel, nearly grayscale, palette that heightened the enclosing metaphorical darkness. In different moments, I discovered myself stopping to tinker with picture mode to seize the colourful great thing about blooming flowers on the coast of this scenic island. Requiem actually is a deal with for the eyes.
Elsewhere, Crash Bandicoot-like sequences that see Amicia fleeing from huge hordes of rats towards the display, or sprinting in the other way to security, had been particularly welcomed breaks from the sport’s in any other case quieter however tense stealth moments. These segments converse to the extra bombastic nature of Requiem, which at occasions goes to locations I may outright spoil right here, and I don’t assume you’d consider me anyway. Once more, I need to stress how epic Requiem’s scale and dimension are – it’s greater than Innocence in each approach. Even past the story, new additions to Amicia and Hugo’s arsenal, like a one-hit-kill crossbow (don’t depend on it an excessive amount of, although, as a result of arrows are powerful to return by) or Hugo’s means to manage rats and feast on the enemies round you, up the ante of the moment-to-moment gameplay.
Nonetheless, regardless of what I loved upon reaching the island, I can’t assist however really feel that Asobo may have minimize a big portion of this recreation. That’s to not say the sections I would like trimmed are dangerous – they’re good attributable to A Plague Story’s high quality gameplay and storytelling – however they really feel extra like pointless padding that hinders Requiem’s pacing.
I used to be relieved when Requiem’s second set of credit rolled. Not as a result of I didn’t get pleasure from enjoying the sport, however as a result of the de Runes’ journey on this recreation is tense and tense for a lot of it. At occasions, it feels too lengthy and oddly sadistic in its deal with inflicting fakeouts, ache, and struggling on the de Runes. Different occasions, I admired Asobo’s command of this collection, its rat-infested stealth mechanics, and its grandiose storytelling. Happily, the latter edges out the previous, and Requiem seems like far more than only a follow-up. With this journey behind me, I’m enthusiastic about the place the collection may go from right here, but when Asobo plans a break for the franchise, relaxation assured that Requiem goes out with a powerful bang.