When it comes to medieval times, there's no shortage of titles on the market, whether they're fantasy loosely based on the period or more historically authentic. It seems that there's something about the odor of unwashed bodies, abject poverty, and brutal disembowelment that attracts people. However, while most games put you in the sweaty leather boots of a warrior swinging various implements about, A Plague Tale puts you in the somewhat less sweaty and decidedly less enviable position of a teenage girl having to take care of her little brother and make it through France in one of its many darkest hours.
Set in 1349, the game focuses on the siblings and their perilous journey through France, torn apart by social unrest triggered by the Black Plague and fueled by the ravages of the French Inquisition. Unable to face their foes head-on, the brother and sister have to resort to their cleverness and tenacity to survive - and find out why the Inquisitors are so interested in them.
The game isn't aiming for realism, but rather authenticity: Replicating the atmosphere and feel of medieval France buckling under the Black Plague and extremism that followed in its wake, A Plague Tale mixes fantasy and history into an unique tale that explores one of Europe's many, many apocalyptic events.
After all, the Black Death was not the only plague of its kind, although it was certainly one of the most devastating. It lasted four years, from 1347 to 1341, and killed an estimated 30 to 60% of the European population, adding to the tens of millions of deaths it already caused in Asia. However, it was not the only apocalypse of its kind.
A similar plague has also ravaged the Byzantine Empire of the 6th century, killing several tens of millions of people, equivalent to anywhere between an eighth to a fourth of the world's total population, and continued to emerge in waves for the next two centuries. Like the Black Death, it had a devastating effect on the empire and is considered one of several turning points of European history. Then there's the Antonine plague that ravaged the Roman Empire in the 2nd century...
That's not to say our luck got any better as time went by. Though medicine and biology improved tremendously over the next seven centuries, nature had a few more tricks up her sleeve to remind us of our position in the great scheme of things. The influenza pandemic of 1918 - 1920 was a particularly notable example, killing between 50 and 100 million people right after the devastating First World War (known as The War to End All Wars at the time among everyone who didn't pay attention in history class).
As such, if A Plague Tale: Innocence leads to a sequel, there will be no shortage of source material, on the contrary, there's plenty of misery to revel in.
And especially for those who enjoy medieval miseries, A Plague Tale: Innocence Wiki offers a headstart in surviving the ravages of apocalyptic France.
Michal's a wiki manager, writer, and a happily married husband and father. Video games are a big part of his life ever since the first shot fired in Wolfenstein 3D. Almost as big as books and history (don't get him started on it, though, or he'll talk your ears off).