A Plague Tale: Innocence is doing something not many games shown at E3 this year are: taking us back in time. Set in 1349, Asobo Studio is showing us what life was like in Europe during the time of the Black Plague. Imagine the rats from Dishonored, but even more of them, and that gives you a good idea.
Sweet Little Tidbits
Unfortunately, our time with A Plague Tale: Innocence was short but sweet. The studio released only a teaser trailer and a press release giving the basic story-rundown, and that was that. We know that the game is set in France and stars a woman named Amicia and her young brother Hugo. For some reason, they’re being chased by “the Inquisition.” From what little gameplay there is in the trailer and screenshots, it appears to be a stealth game. There could be action elements as well, or even Guitar Hero-like rhythm sections for all we know.
Right now, A Plague Tale is little more than a giant, rat-infested question mark. It’s surprising that such a small studio would announce their game – and give it an “E3 reveal trailer” no less – during the biggest event in gaming, but not have anything to actually say about it.
Guessing the History
What Inquisition Amicia is trying to escape is a mystery. The Medieval Inquisitions took place in the 12th and 13th centuries. The world famous, one-night live Spanish Inquisition began in the late 1300’s, but officially kicked off as late as 1478. Amicia and her brother could be hunted after for any number of reasons. They both could be Jewish, or the Inquisition could be a literal witch hunt.
As far as the rats, they seem like a pretty integral part of the game. There’s even one nesting on the ‘G’ in the logo. These rats are obviously carrying the Black Plague, which first made its way to France in 1348, a year before A Plague Tale is set. It’s a common misconception that the Plague was carried by the rats themselves, but in reality, it was carried by the fleas living on the rats. But fleas aren’t nearly as interesting or creepy as a horde of rats foaming at the mouth. The plague killed an estimated 30-60% of Europe’s population from 1346 to 1353.
It’s impossible to even speculate what other historical aspects the game could touch upon since we know so little about it. At the very least, I’m willing to bet that Amicia and Hugo are being hunted because they’re Jewish. The Catholic population of the time believed the Black Plague was caused by the Jews, so they began hunting them down and burning them. The most notable such event was the Strasbourg Massacre, in which hundreds of Jewish people in Strasbourg were burned, and hundreds more forced to leave.
Isn’t History Fun?
There’s still a lot we don’t know about A Plague Tale: Innocence, and it’ll be a long time before we do. But right now my mind is a flutter with all the opportunities that not only the setting provide, but the gameplay. Asobo Studio could go super realistic with this like with Kingdom Come: Deliverance, but without the combat. It’s also interesting to see the story of a woman trying to play mother to her young brother. So many games out there, including many at E3 this year, put you in the role of a father figure to a young child.
You can bet your sweet, frothy-mouthed rat that we’re going to be keeping an eye on this one going forward.