In the current era of gaming that feels increasingly dominated by live service multiplayer, I've grown to appreciate story-driven single-player experiences more than ever before. One of my absolute favorites in recent years has been the A Plague Tale series from Microsoft Flight Simulator developer Asobo Studio, which encompasses both 2019's A Plague Tale: Innocence and its sequel, 2022's A Plague Tale: Requiem.
Both of these games are absolutely fantastic, though I'd definitely say Requiem improves on the first in most respects — and right now, you can get it for just $15 on Xbox thanks to a fantastic GameStop deal. It normally goes for a full $60, making this a massive 75% discount. Sales like this don't come around often, so you definitely shouldn't pass it up if you're interested in checking it out.
Set in medieval France during the 14th Century, A Plague Tale: Requiem takes place six months after the events of Innocence and puts you in the shoes of teenager Amicia and her younger brother Hugo as they travel south to escape their devastated homeland. Desperate to try and find a way to subdue the terrible curse that follows Hugo and brings hordes of plague-ridden rats wherever he goes, the pair embark on an arduous journey to a far-off island that's supposedly home to a cure.
No spoilers here, but Requiem has some of the best writing I've enjoyed in a game. As my colleague Zachary Boddy wrote in their A Plague Tale: Requiem review last year, "it's a wonderful, humbling tale of human struggle against the ominous forces of an indifferent universe," and is "rife with emotion and character."
Like Innocence's, the gameplay in Requiem is a blend of careful stealth, tense combat, and puzzle solving. However, the sequel gives players more tools and options to rely on, making it more varied and interesting to play. Overall, it has an unsettling horror vibe that permeates through the experience, though I wouldn't go so far as to call it a horror game.
Then there's the game's presentation, which is immaculate. Put simply, it has some of the best graphics I've ever seen in a game — and that stellar visual fidelity goes hand-in-hand with a diverse art direction that swings between vibrant, picturesque European landscapes and dreary environments teeming with death and despair (up to 300,000 rats can swarm the screen at any given time). The music and sound effects don't disappoint, either.
While I'd recommend playing Innocence first if you haven't yet, you should still pick up A Plague Tale: Requiem while it's this affordable. It's undoubtedly one of the best Xbox games available, and a must-play experience for anyone that loves story-driven single-player. Note that it's currently on Xbox Game Pass, though it may not be forever; A Plague Tale: Innocence was removed from the service late last year.
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