A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Plague Tale: Innocence is a stealth action/adventure game available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. The game is set in 1349 and casts players as Amicia de Rune, a young teenage girl who's suddenly forced to take care of her ailing brother when their home is invaded and attacked by the Inquisition, along with an even worse supernatural threat. Over time, both kids reluctantly grow into leadership positions and heroes as they move through the land, aiding others and leading a group of orphaned kids to safety against incredible odds. There's quite a lot of violence, mainly caused by swarming rats that strip anything they come across to the bone, spraying blood in the process. Amicia can use a sling to take out human opponents, although she expresses regret and remorse at these actions. Some scenes also take place on a battlefield or in towns with many bodies and body parts strewn about in gruesome ways. There's occasional use of "hell," "bastard," and "s--t" in the dialogue, and scenes where players find enemy soldiers drunk or asleep with bottles strewn around them. Alcohol can also be collected and used to craft items.
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What's it about?
A PLAGUE TALE: INNOCENCE is a stealth action/adventure game set in France in the Middle Ages, specifically during the Hundred Years War. Players step into the shoes of Amicia de Rune, a 15-year-old noblewoman, and her five-year-old brother, Hugo -- two orphans trying to survive against seemingly impossible odds. Hordes of rats have swarmed the land, eating virtually everything they come into contact with in seconds. A mysterious disease has also struck much of the country, killing peasant and noble alike. Hugo has contracted this illness, but seems strangely immune to its effects. Unfortunately for him, the Inquisition knows of his resistance and will stop at nothing to acquire him for their own twisted purposes. It's up to Amicia, Hugo, and the band of orphan children that they gather along the way to avoid being hunted down by the soldiers of the Inquisition as they try to find a cure for the disease before it's too late. Can Amicia and Hugo escape the relentless soldiers and swarms of rats? Are the vermin attacks random, or is there something sinister behind their behavior? Most importantly, will Hugo survive the plague or become the latest victim? Their fate, and the fate of the world, lies in the player's hands.
Is it any good?
This adventure takes one of the darkest chapters in history, tosses in supernatural twists, and adds young unlikely heroes, resulting in a gripping tale from start to finish. A Plague Tale: Innocence is set during a turbulent time in history, when war and disease threaten to wipe out much of Europe. But instead of a warrior or a medic on the front lines, Innocence casts you as a young teenage girl who has to take care of her ill little brother. Amicia isn't a fighter; her only weapon is a sling that she uses in self-defense or to knock objects down. But if she gets hit once, she's dead, so players quickly learn to rely on stealth and distraction to move soldiers away from entrances or pathways, or attract hazards to take out opponents, especially because the slightest misstep or noise from hiding spots or shadows could lead to death. But you can't simply stay in the dark. A Plague Tale forces you into the light by wielding torches, fires, or other light sources to stave off the swarming rats, who will try to sneak in and devour you every chance they get. It's this tension between the light and the dark, of avoiding human threats and fending off animal ones, that creates incredibly gripping tension from start to finish.
There are still some rough edges that keep A Plague Tale from being perfect. While the game has the illusion of choice, it can be strikingly linear. Towns and levels tend to tease additional pathways you can take, but they frequently direct you toward a specific location. Similarly, while Amicia can enhance her gear in any way players want (as long as they have the components), there's clearly a specific path of upgrades you need to take to be the most effective in each level. Choosing incorrectly can make a challenging level even harder than it needs to be, especially in the few moments when you need to protect yourself with your sling against many incoming enemies. Speaking of your sling, there are moments when you need to aim accurately within a matter of seconds, but Amicia can take a bit longer to lock onto her target. Once you get accustomed to her lag in aim, you can adjust to these situations, but it can be frustrating if you miss your throws and are forced to restart a level multiple times. These minor problems aside, A Plague Tale: Innocence is an incredible story that fans of stealth adventure games will really enjoy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in A Plague Tale: Innocence affected by the fact that the main characters express remorse and regret about killing enemies? Is the impact lessened by the fact that violence is frequently done in self-defense rather than just to eliminate opponents?
What makes someone a hero? Do people learn how to become heroic from listening to stories from parents or reading books, or is it something that they can grow into based on the situation they find themselves in?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $49.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Focus Home Entertainment
- Release date: May 14, 2019
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Great Girl Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.