— Focus Entertainment

Logging onto your PlayStation account, the third-person action-adventure game shines at the top. It’s familiar, fun, and can take many different forms. While PlayStation has especially leaned hard into this genre with the likes of The Last of Us, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Ghost of Tsushima, etc., it doesn’t have a monopoly on the genre.

One of 2022’s most surprising games was A Plague Tale: Requiem, from French developer Asobo, which delivered a quality stealth action experience alongside gorgeous visuals and a heart-wrenching story. Now it’s free for PlayStation Plus subscribers, making it easier than ever to play one of the most unique takes on a familiar genre.

The first thing that will take players’ breath away when starting A Plague Tale: Requiem is the trees. This game has gorgeous trees. Seriously, I mean it. The opening moments of Requiem are bucolic, highlighting just how graphically stunning the game is. “Best looking game” gets thrown around a lot anytime a new AAA release comes out, but for my money, Requiem is still one of the most impressive games to look at. Its environments are rendered in such detail and color that it is hard not to find yourself staring at every new vista.

That extends beyond the game’s picturesque moments and into the horrific moments of medieval blood and muck that permeate Requiem’s dark story. Even when it’s a horde of rats writhing as a singular mass, there is something impressive about the moment. That’s because Asobo is no stranger to rendering expansive worlds with such gorgeous detail. For proof, just load up Microsoft Flight Simulator, the Studio’s previous title.

In the same vein as most third-person action-adventure games, Requiem’s gameplay consists of exploration, combat, and light puzzles. The game’s environments are much larger than its predecessors which opens up the possibilities for how players interact with the world. This new freedom mostly shows itself during combat, which now allows for improved stealth as well as more aggressive tactics to take care of enemies.

What makes Requiem feel unique is its combination of human and environmental dangers as protagonists Amicia and Hugo need to be wary of not only those hunting them down but also the rat plague infesting the world. Using fire to coral rats or snuffing torches out to send a horde to attack a nearby guard is a satisfying strategic element to combat. Hugo’s unique abilities to control rats add even more interesting avenues to go down when presented with a challenge.

All of these interesting graphical and mechanical elements of Requiem only help lift up the game’s core duo. Just like in its predecessor, the heart of Requiem isn’t the gorgeous world or interesting combat scenarios but the story of siblings Amicia and Hugo in their struggle to survive in a world full of gore and pain. The performances of both siblings (from Charlotte McBurney and Logan Hannan) propel this game through its roughly 20-hour runtime. This is another way Requiem fits into the more well-known prestige third-person action-adventure games from PlayStation, performances are the star of the show, much like The Last of Us.

A Plague Tale: Requiem’s world is dark, bloody, and hopeless. But fighting to keep Amicia and Hugo alive despite everything makes this one of the most interesting twists on a familiar formula. Whether it be the stunning vistas, engrossing combat, or central duo, there is something for everyone to fall in love with along the journey.

A Plague Tale Requiem is available for PlayStation Plus subscribers on January 2. It is also available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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