The plague was spread by rats, and you can’t have a game about the plague with rats, and boy, does this game have rats! Technically, the swarm of rats is possibly the most impressive and stand-out feature. Not only do you have to avoid guards, but both of you have to manoeuvre around the impressive swarm of rats that can only be repelled by light. From lighting braziers, torches, stick of wood and campfires to name just a few; the game keeps switching things up to keep this interesting and always changing it up at a decent pace to stop things from getting stale.
Enemies also can get eaten by swarms, but even they use the same tactics to avoid them. Lit lanterns and torches allow them safe passage through the horde and make it a near impossible feat for Amicia to battle them or sneak past.
Amicia is a dab hand at using a sling, starting off with simple rocks to break chains or make noises to lure enemies. She loses her ‘innocence’ when she kills a man with a rock form her sling, but it soon becomes the best method of dealing with them. But as I mentioned before, game keeps switching things up, so before you know it, guards with helmets enter the fold and you need to deal with them in a new way. In the early portion of the game, all encounters are very linear and only have one way to solve them, which last about six chapters, I have to admit I almost gave up on the game getting any better, thankfully it opens up.
Alongside these changes you will continually unlock new weapons and you are able to upgrade them too. Collecting materials like The Last of Us to craft new and interesting weapons that really make the game more entertaining. These elixirs can all be thrown at the enemies or at objects in the environment, for example ‘Exstinguis’ can put out torches, campfires and even enemy lanterns to cause the rat swarms to devour them. Or alternatively you can upgrade you sling to knock off enemy helmets and just take them out that way. The options in the later game truly make it fun. Although there was one section with four enemies near the end of the game which felt broken. Enemies could see you inconsistently and it made it very difficult to know when you were safe and when you weren’t.
There are a few really entertaining boss fights too, which change the game to a predominantly stealth game to more of an action and aggressive form of play. However, that is not all, traversal puzzles also play a key element to the game. Nothing that will cause you to look up a guide, but mildly challenging enough to keep you on your toes.
One of the biggest flaws in this game is the animations, and the odd bug here and there. For example, you can get stuck on geometry or by NPCs. The visuals are very impressive and the characters look great, but without motion capture, they do seem a bit stilted in comparison to other triple A titles in the genre. Another bug I faced was when trying to escape a guard, which in the early portions of the game is pretty much game over, but on this occasion I was able to get to an area where I could crawl under a barrier. The guard grabbed me, but I was able to counter it with the ‘Somnum’ potion and knock him out, but the game had blocked the exit and I was stuck in limbo. A quick ‘Restart from Last Checkpoint’ was required, nothing major, but it took me out of the experience.
This leads me onto the check-pointing, in most scenarios the checkpoints are quite generous, but there are a few where if you die, you have to listen to the same dialog over and over, or watch and instigate the same cutscenes over and over. It can become quite draining.
Overall, I have to say I am quite surprised by this title. It seemingly came out of nowhere, I had low expectations but it completely exceeded them and more. The game looks stunning, the story is sombre and well told. The music is dramatic and akin to The Last of Us. It isn’t as polished, but in itself is a great package. There are collectibles and areas you can take different approaches with for those wanting to go in to get a few more hours out of this 8-9 hour game. Definitely worth a purchase, especially at a reduced price.
- Replay Value