Holy shit! Where has this game been?! I’m normally pretty on top of nerd culture, but this one totally snuck up on me. And now that I have seen the unveiling of it, I can’t get enough. This has sky-rocketed from a game I have never heard about, to me desperately hoping it comes out in 2019. I know it won’t be this year, since the phrase “Work in Progress” is at the top of this video all the time it’s up, but a man can dream, right? Much like a lot of the games I have been stoked for, over the years, it begins with us seeing a decent snippet of gameplay. Going in not having known anything about this, I was giddy to see more. It kept me enraptured from first to last.
Part of me wishes all games did that – introduce themselves with a long gameplay bit, then have the story trailer and whatnot to get me into the narrative. If they can find a way to work both in, that’s great. And for those who want to call foul because of how I said that I like how Kojima has done with his new project, there’s a difference. I expected what Kojima did. He likes the secrecy. And this trailer was in the same vein. The gameplay was more in depth, but it didn’t spoil the whole experience for me. It tantalized me enough to want more. That’s what a good trailer is supposed to do! There’s a lot to talk about with this, so let’s get into it.
We begin on a boat, with a boy who looks to be in his early teens steering, and an young woman who is holding a young boy. The lad is sick, and she is concerned. This companion, introduced as Lucas, seems to be a very knowledgeable sort. She asks him about the nature of the brother’s disease, and he imparts information from alchemists. From their conversation, I can gather that the parents of the two passengers are dead, and Lucas is not a family member. So what is the nature of their relationship? An interesting question. Over the course of the trailer, we see that he is quite dedicated to the two.
I’m also curious as to what disease the girl’s brother has. The title of this game has Plague in it, but I get the feeling that it isn’t The Black Death. If that were the case, then he’d probably be fucked. Does take a touch of the realism out when Lucas explains that it can have effects, depending on the person. As if this is some supernatural thing that will give him super-powers. I am kind of hoping not, because as this trailer goes on and we see how it looks grounded in realism in a lot of ways, it makes the description of the illness seem far-fetched. Of course, it may just be that it is a folktale and the kid really does have a very bad illness. Kind of hoping so.
Once we get past the cutscene into gameplay, we find out that the place they are heading is French. So this game takes place in Medieval France?! Alright! This makes me happy. Their accents go with it, I suppose. Lucas knows enough about this kid to know his name – Hugo. Alright. This tells me that there is some connection between the two sibling and Lucas. Enough for him to be very brotherly and it feels natural. The visuals in this gameplay bit are unbelievable! It genuinely does feel like I am in Medieval France on a very foggy day. Getting a sense of place like this is just astounding. I also caught that we have the Roman numeral V and a title. So this is the fifth chapter of this story. That’s interesting as well.
As we journey down the river, I can’t help but notice there is some banter between the girl and Lucas. She cares for his comfort, and he talks with her like they are close enough to be open about that. It’s an interesting hint about their dynamic. Curious to see who Lucas is to the two of them.
Hugo finds himself a British shield and sword, pretending to be a knight, but the girl and Lucas are immediately alarmed. Why would that be here? The answer doesn’t take long, as the smell of death greets them. At the top of the hill, they see the source – a battlefield, full of rotting corpses. The detail again comes to mind, and you can feel the horror of countless dead bodies, all around. It’s clear that girl wants to go around this, but Lucas tells her they have no choice, if they want to get to the Chateau.
What follows is a brilliantly told bit of exposition through gameplay. You can feel their horror, having to climb over the dead to get away from the nightmare. Hugo feels like a real kid, asking silly questions to the person who is the adult in his life at the moment. Coming up to the corpse of a horse, the situation goes from bad to worse. Rats burst out of the rotting carcass, and now they are surrounded.
Then we get to see a gameplay feature. You can loot the environment, and fashion weapons out of what you find. It’s a simple crafting mechanic, but it makes sense. We also see that the girl’s weapon of choice is her sling. After fashioning some incendiaries, you find you can use them with the sling to fire volleys at flammable targets. Light keeps the rats away. Odd, but whatever. I’ll go with it. There are also some cool environmental puzzles, like using a trebuchet to assist in lighting more fires. We also find that the girl, Lucas, and even Hugo are involved in solving these puzzles. That intrigues me more.
I’ve said before how little touches in these kinds of trailers go a long way for me. Little signs that the developers show special attention to detail. One thing I noticed is that your torches burn down, if they are just sticks of wood. The kind enclosed in metal don’t, but that little touch goes a long way to selling me on the realism. It’s good stuff.
A human enemy comes into play, and here shows off a couple more mechanics. Not only can you use long grass to hide in, but she can also use her sling to target either human opponents, or their stuff. Like when you use it to break the lamp the guard is using to keep the rats away. Whats follows is, what I’m sure in real life would be absolutely horrifying, the rats tearing him to pieces. His screams sound real enough. Lucas finally says her name. I think it was Alysia? Correct me if I’m wrong. It’s also interesting that you can use the rats ripping other enemies to pieces as a way to charge past them. This game looks so fucking grim! I love it!
We get more environmental puzzles, this time with siege weapons. I cannot get over how amazing this looks. The siege tower is full of arrows. Looks like it was headed for a wall we can see behind, but never quite made it. Here we get to see that, since it’s clear she’s not made for battle, when enemies catch sight of you, your best option is to send some stones flying from your sling, straight at their heads. Naturally, the rats tear their corpses to pieces, giving you an in to get inside the siege tower.
Since stealth definitely seems to be the name of the game, using breakable jars to lure guards away is smart. Giving you the chance to shatter their lamp and let the rats go to town on them. It’s such a disgusting way to deal with your enemies. I genuinely do love it. After pushing a siege weapon and getting it stuck in the mud, you realize that not only does tall grass factor in, but so do other environmental hazards. I kinda like that. Makes you wonder what ways they will integrate that into the narrative.
Alysia gets to have this neat bit where she follows an English soldier who has a torch, in order to get close enough to get one that is on a cart. That tells me that there is going to be a lot of clever sneaking in this game. I love it! Again, little touches like that go a long way. She’s not a warrior, after all. The best she can do is use her small size and padded feet to stay silent and move among those who are dangerous. The game helps you keep track of the positions of her enemies by having a kind of white border on the side they are facing. I like that too.
There is this other nice way of the game telling you that you can only be stealthy. Notice the metal helmets that they are wearing? That’s a nice way for the game to tell you that their heads are protected. If they find you, you’re fucked. No ifs, ands, or buts. And the guy has a torch on top of a pole, which means that you can’t break it. The only choice you have is to sneak. The player here is smart, realizing that they have to ditch the torch and head into the tall grass to sneak past.
It seems that even the dead can be of some use, as there is a wonderfully grotesque puzzle of using dead French soldiers as food for the rats to sneak past. It also gives us a nice little bit with Lucas being very kind and telling Hugo to stay close to his sister. I like this character more and more. The trailer ends with a knight who appears to be trapped begging to be helped, only for you to use him as living bait for the rats, so you can escape.
This trailer is DARK! I cannot love this enough. I am going to be reading all I can about this game, to learn everything I can about when it will be released and what other media will be put out regarding it. Sure, it’s easy to make comparisons to this game and titles like The Last of Us, but the setting and character give it all it needs to stand apart. Not to mention the fact that stealth is the only tool you have. There is no shanking or fist-fights. All you can do is hide, use the environment, or the sole weapon you have in order to stay alive. This looks awesome.
Cannot wait to see more!