^ Stay tuned after the ads for our A Plague Tale: Requiem review chat over twenty actual minutes of gorgeous ultrawide gameplay at max settings on PC.
Marshalling all the power of next-gen GPUs to render a swarm of 300,000 rats gnashing its way through medieval France is, in and of itself, a pretty neat party trick. The fact that Asobo Studio use it merely as the basis for an arresting, gripping tale of human ingenuity in the face of unfathomable disaster is an astoundingly impressive feat: and as if that wasn't showing off enough, they've now gone and done it twice with A Plague Tale: Requiem, the bold and brilliant sequel to 2019's Innocence.
The first game earned itself comparisons to the likes of God of War and The Last of Us back when it came out, and it’s easy to see why: all of these games are, essentially, 20-hour escort quests that play out as a harrowing road trip over a dozen or so chapters. But without Sony’s money hose at hand to piss cash at your telly as though it were a truck stop urinal, there was a sense that Plague Tale couldn’t compete. It even got saddled with a pithy nickname in “The Past of Us”, as many quipped at the preview stage.
But the story of Amicia and Hugo, estranged siblings clinging on to each other as the world around them collapses into a toothy hellscape, transcended those sorts of diminutive comparisons. With a core cast of memorable characters, beautifully realised locations, and a seemingly endless trick bag of twists on the familiar childhood game of “the floor is lava”, it quickly became apparent to everyone that Plague Tale wasn’t an also-ran, but a serious piece of work that could just about stand tall amongst Triple-A giants.
With Requiem, the strength of those ideas gets the untethered, big-budget treatment that it deserves, delivering a solidly worthy sequel that, while not perfect (sometimes its various systems clash more than they interact), proves that the Plague Tale saga is more than worthy of consideration against those flagship Sony titles, and is every bit as compelling as as the Assassin’s Creed saga when it comes to the narrow field of historical action adventures with daft fantasy twists in which you batter the pope.
While the original game was a more intimate affair (as intimate as dark ages rat apocalypses can get, at least), the ante-upping sequel works wonderfully as a companion piece: no less terrifying, and yet, with a shift in the balance of power that puts the protagonists on a war footing, turning the tables ever so slightly against the dominating foes of the original story.
Essentially, it’s Plague Tale getting its own James Cameron sequel. What an absolute treat.
A Plague Tale: Requiem is out tomorrow on Game Pass for PC and Xbox Series X|S, Steam, and PS5.