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The RPS Advent Calendar 2019, Dec 1st

Winner of the Least Annoying Child Award, 2019

The first day of the RPS Advent Calendar has arrived! Harken to the scritching and scratching of approaching festivity, and open the first door!

It's A Plague Tale: Innocence!

Alice Bee: You know what, A Plague Tale was really bloody good, wasn't it? Probably not a laugh a minute if you've got a thing about rats, though. Actually, not a laugh a minute even if you love rats. Rats do feature heavily, as a literal flood of danger and a metaphorical flood of corruption. Hugo and Amicia, children of a local noble whose family home is attacked by religious zealots, are going it alone in the medieval countryside.

Their tale is mostly hardship and woe. But it's the bits that aren't woeful that are especially worth highlighting. The grim, goffic bits, with rats and wars and monks getting eaten alive, would be unrelentingly grim without contrast. Hugo and Amicia's ragtag Goonies gang of orphans, and their sunny wintry days together in an abandoned castle hideout, make the bad times grimmer by contrast. Sacrificing a live a rat horde doesn't carry the same weight if you've got nothing to fight for.

It's almost unrelentingly goth, though. A Plague Tale absolutely stacked it in the boss fights, but the rest of the time the one hit death nature of the puzzles and combat made it all feel tense. Some big soldier with 'orrible breath bears down on you, while a sea of writhing, squealing rats is kept at bay by his torchlight. But I can douse your flame with my sling, matey. Not so clever now. It became almost a rhythm game on some levels: one, two, put out torch, four, five, throw explosive, seven, eight, demon rats.

Hugo is what you fight for, by the way. My little chubby cheeked angel, so barely out of his toddling days. I love him so much. He's such a little sweetheart, and he's trying his best! He must be protected at all costs.

Alice L: A Plague Tale gave me something I didn't realise I wanted. Or perhaps, didn't realise I missed. A linear, single player game with a strong female lead in Amicia, and... Oh, a child. But, as Alice Bee said, Hugo is really not that bad. And I, too, was expecting to hate him.

Not for any reason other than I don't like children. In video games, or in real life. Because of this, I wasn't even sure that I'd want to play an escort mission for an entire game. But it turns out, I did. And I loved it. There were a lot of things I really enjoyed about A Plague Tale, in fact. The medieval setting, the characters you encounter along the way, the use of light and dark to fend away those little plague ridden ratties, or having those same ratties doing your bidding... Mainly Hugo, though.

I'm a little bit sad about how much bad press rats might have gotten from this, though, and I wasn't a fan of what happened to the pig. Both pigs and rats are really very nice. But I couldn't stop myself playing. I couldn't bring myself to step away from it for too long, as I just wanted Hugo to be okay. And like I said before, I hate kids. (And in games.)

Looking for a different door? Head back to the RPS Advent Calendar 2019!

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