We returned to France in 1348, among the corpses piled on the battlefields in the transalpine plains and the rotting alleys of cities exterminated by the black plague. Why A Plague Tale Innocence is one of those stories that deserve to be lived a second time: already in our review of A Plague Tale we told you about a proudly linear single player title, anchored to its mostly narrative nature, but able to pack a satisfying adventure despite the technical limitations of a “Double A” production.
Today the title of Asobo Studio shines in a new updated look for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X| S, graphically refined and available free of charge for all users subscribed to the PlayStation Plus and Game Pass service (Xbox and PC). We then spent another dozen hours fleeing the blades of the Inquisition and the fangs of ravenous plagued rats, and we’re ready to tell you how it went.
A memorable journey
Perhaps it is superfluous to tell you from scratch the narrative basis from which the journey of Amy e Hugo, two brothers of noble origins who survived a terrible massacre and flee through a France torn by the Plague disease. Yet, for those approaching for the first time the small pearl born within the walls of the Asobo studios, it is worth reiterating its main prominent elements. A Plague Tale Innocente is a third person single player adventure featuring stealth mechanics and a decent assortment of environmental puzzles to solve. The aim of the player, in the role of Amicia De Rune, is to protect her helpless little brother Hugo, afflicted by a rare disease and for this ended in the crosshairs of the Inquisition. For this reason, the interaction with the child, as well as with other supporting actors who make their appearance during the journey, becomes fundamental for surviving the pitfalls of the journey: Amicia must always move holding the little one by the hand to lead him to safety, but all the same Hugo sometimes becomes a valuable ally in the most challenging stealth phases or for solving puzzles.
And to the realistic scenario, well supported by a good historical reconstruction and a sumptuous artistic direction, the guys from Asobo added some vaguely supernatural elements to give color to the gameplay of the work: the hordes of mice, represented as a horrible rotting entity that seems to have a life of its own, and the management of an inventory consisting of slingshot, stones and alchemical substances able to illuminate, sleep or stun the enemies.
In short, in the adventure of Amicia and Hugo an interesting amalgam takes shape: an effective and well-written story, supported by a gameplay functional to the nature of the project. But from a content point of view, both in terms of the story and the game mechanics, the next gen version of A Plague Tale Innocence does not add anything compared to the base title. So if you have already experienced the exciting journey of the De Rune brothers on the old generation consoles, and do not feel the need to retrace a path already trodden, the Asobo and Focus Home Interactive production could have little else to tell you.
In terms of longevity, in fact, A Plague Tale defends itself quite well: the dozen hours needed to complete it leaves you completely satisfied, without any kind of regret about the breath or the depth of the story. The situation changes, however, if you have discovered the title only now or, even better, if you are a fan of high resolution.
A Plague Tale su next gen
We know well the talent and role of Asobo Studio in the gaming industry. We are talking about a team that in the last twenty years has worked mainly on licensed titles, focusing largely on various Disney-branded tie-ins and only recently entering the Microsoft stables to support some Xbox and PC exclusives.
It is no coincidence that Asobo has even worked on the splendid Flight Simulator (to learn more you just have to “fly” to our review of Microsoft Flight Simulator). A flair fully and deservedly recognized in the gaming industry: the French studio, backed by an interesting proprietary graphics engine, came to the creation of A Plague Tale Innocence demonstrating an important proof of both artistic and technical maturity. And it must be said that, without some ingenuity on the graphic front and a not so valuable animation sector, already in the basic version for old generation consoles we could see a good polygonal modeling and a digital scenography of excellent workmanship.
On the new generation consoles the work of Asobo Studio is undoubtedly more refined and the glance really valuable. While not revolutionizing the aesthetic sector, the upgrade has benefited the scenic rendering of the work, thanks to more defined textures and more detailed scenarios. The visual impact is excellent both indoors and outdoors, although the very little interaction with the elements of the scene (bushes, overhangs, furniture or chairs) and the cast animations of the characters create a bit of contrast between the quality of the movements. and that of the staging.
To benefit from the operation of polishing it is in particular the effects, which exploits the greater power of the new gaming machines for staging pleasant and sometimes even surprising lighting effects. For example, we were struck by the reflections on the water surfaces, and the pleasant play of contrasts between the shaded areas and the light beams, especially at night.
It goes without saying that the most glaring improvements are those affecting resolution and frame rate, set at 1440p (with upscale to 4K) and 60 fps on both PS5 and Xbox Series X. While boasting a slightly more convincing shadow rendering than the counterpart , the PS5 version of the game shows some small uncertainty on the fluidity front, albeit without significant consequences on the effectiveness of the gameplay.
Still talking about the Sony flagship, an intriguing added value is guaranteed by the DualSense functionality support. The haptic feedback responds well during the run, for example returning the cadenced rhythm of the steps during the run or the tingling given by the advancing of the rats. But it is above all the management of the sling that has intrigued us: the adaptive triggers, for example, respond to the pull of the rope, simulating the rotational tension of Amicia’s remote weapon.