We keep plaguing developers to do something different. Gaming, we tell them, needs different voices and different stories.
Well, one plague begets another.
A Plague Tale: Innocence is exactly the kind of title gaming used to produce in the Playstation 2 era, an offbeat story that borrows elements from popular big budget games to tell a different story.
In this case, the setting is France, during theBlack Death, and the main characters are an orphan, Amica, and her younger brother, Hugo.
The developers, Focus Home Entertainment, say they want a story in which Amica has to grow and adapt in a time of fierce hardship, while taking care of her brother and guiding him to safety.
These themes are heavily evident in the gameplay videos that Focus Home have released, showing Amica sneaking through the streets of a filthy, disease-ridden France, desperately hoping she won’t be caught by the prowling guards or, worse, the rats who infest the shadows.
In A Plague Tale, rats are the ‘demons’ of this vision of history, working together in huge packs and hunting their prey with cold ferocity.
In the gameplay videos, the only way Amica could get passed them was by using fire or distracting them.
In that sense, A Plague Tale seems to be a stealth game at its core, where avoiding both guards and the rats, and solving the landscape puzzles those enemies provide, will be key to the fun.
The presentation, especially the music and graphics, seems of high quality for a mid-range title and the tone and feel bring to mind Hellblade, a game that similarly brought a unique story to gaming’s lower budget landscape.
A game set during the Hundred Years War, in which inquisitors roam the land and two children face a bleak fight against the plague?
Call us twisted, but that just might catch on.
A Plague Tale releases this month on PC and consoles.
If the Black Death is a little too grim for you, then you can always retreat to a world of fantasy, instead.
Last year, there was no better game for that than Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Ubisoft have just released the first chapter of some pretty exciting DLC.
Called The Fate of Atlantis, this DLC does a number of things that will likely entice people back to the game.
Firstly, it takes players to the titular Atlantis, albeit through a ‘simulation’ provided by one of the game’s gods.
This means you’ll be running into all kinds of demi-gods and famous figures from myth, which is exactly what we want from a game of this nature.
Secondly, The Fate of Atlantis allows player to create their own character, which is a first for a mainline Assassin’s Creed game and will likely make fans pretty happy.
It also means you can jump right in and play the DLC, as it doesn’t require your main quest Odyssey character to be at a certain level.
All in all, The Fate of Atlantis looks to be very solid wish fulfillment on Ubisoft’s part.
In this case, we highly doubt it sinks without a trace.
Finally, for those who prefer to take matters of history into their own hands, there’s Anno 1800.
Much like Civilization and the Paradox simulation family, Anno is a game for people who enjoy building societies and seeing them crumble, due to logistical ineptitude.
Set in 1800, this latest release in the Anno series asks you to micro-manage every aspect of your burgeoning industrial settlement and expand further into the New World.
You need sheep, so that you can weave wool, so that you can clothe your farmers, so they can feed the miners, who can, and so on.
There’s a lot of multi-layered management and planning required.
We love these types of games, especially when they are as beautifully meticulous and designed as Anno, but we’re also terrible at them.
With the way we manage our towns, history would surely have written us out of the story.
Still, Anno is a must buy for fans of empire-building. It’s not Anno from us — it’s a yes.