Asobo Stu­dio of­fers a glimpse in­side its dark ad­ven­ture

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Adam Bryant

Pub­lisher Fo­cus Home In­ter­ac­tive De­vel­oper Asobo Stu­dio ETA 14 May

Sur­viv­ing in 14th cen­tury France dur­ing the Hun­dred Years’ War is tough at the best of times, but when you’re on the run from the In­qui­si­tion and para­nor­mal swarms of blood­hun­gry rats are nip­ping at your heels, it can be quite a night­mare. So you’ll be pleased to know that you’ll be able to ex­pe­ri­ence this hard­ship your­self when Asobo Stu­dio’s dark ad­ven­ture re­leases this May.

A Plague Tale: In­no­cence fol­lows two young sib­lings who are torn from their life of no­bil­ity and thrust into an emo­tional jour­ney of sur­vival across France. You play as Ami­cia, a young girl caught up in the midst of war. Fol­low­ing a fam­ily tragedy, you are left or­phaned and the re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­tect­ing your five-year-old brother, Hugo, who ap­pears to be suf­fer­ing from a mys­te­ri­ous ill­ness, falls to you. In this harsh and un­for­giv­ing world you must do what­ever it takes to sur­vive.

The an­nounce­ment for the game’s re­lease date was ac­com­pa­nied by the launch of a be­hind-the-scenes web se­ries. The first episode of which, ti­tled ‘ Roots Of In­no­cence’, takes a look at the char­ac­ters and themes that can be found within the game. The de­vel­op­ers are aim­ing to ex­plore the jux­ta­po­si­tion of child­hood in­no­cence and the harsh, bru­tal world in which these chil­dren must nav­i­gate, while at the same time not shy­ing away from the re­al­i­ties that they face. “Killing adults as a child is not an in­nocu­ous sub­ject,” ex­plains cre­ative di­rec­tor David Dedeine dur­ing the web se­ries’ first episode. “It gave us the abil­ity to build a strong iden­tity. Maybe it will not please ev­ery­one, we un­der­stand that, but it does not mat­ter, we don’t want to di­lute our vi­sion.” Asobo Stu­dio does not dis­ap­point. You’ll be forced into sit­u­a­tions where you must do the un­for­giv­able and un­savoury, like killing other peo­ple and hid­ing un­der dead bod­ies, in or­der to sur­vive.

Rat­tus rat­tus

The video also gives us a glimpse of the game’s craft­ing and cus­tomi­sa­tion sys­tems. Dur­ing your jour­ney you’ll meet many other or­phans, one of which is Lu­cas, an al­chemist’s ap­pren­tice who will teach you new recipes to use with your sling. One will al­low you to cre­ate balls of fire that you can use to scare away rats.

Rats are pos­si­bly the most fear­some en­emy within the game. Swarms of these plague-in­fested ro­dents of­ten lie be­tween you and your des­ti­na­tion and you must take ad­van­tage of the en­vi­ron­ment to cir­cum­vent them. Luck­ily Ami­cia is re­source­ful with her sling. In the game­play demo, Ami­cia, Hugo and Lu­cas must tra­verse a bat­tle­field. Dead bod­ies are strewn about all over the place, which the kids must clam­ber over. Along the way they come across the corpse of a dead horse whose body ap­pears to be bub­bling and bulging. Sud­denly, it bursts and a sea of rats pours out. Ami­cia scav­enges ma­te­ri­als and crafts a flammable pel­let that she launches at bra­ziers and stacks of hay. The rats, fear­ful of the fire, rush away from the lit ar­eas, grant­ing the kids pas­sage.

You can take out sol­diers, too. The lanterns that sol­diers hold can be knocked out of their hands, plung­ing them into dark­ness. With their pro­tec­tion ex­tin­guished, it doesn’t take long for the rats to surge to­wards the group and de­vour them.

The themes of dan­ger, sur­vival and the loss of in­no­cence are there, but we’ll have to wait un­til May to find out if Asobo Stu­dio has united them in a com­pelling way.

“You’ll be forced into sit­u­a­tions where you must do the un­for­giv­able”

AboveAmi­cia’s sling will come in handy. That guard won’t know what hit him.

leftUp to 3,000 rats can be squirm­ing around on the screen at the same time.

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