There was a point in time when games developers declared single-player adventures dead. They argued that the future was in multiplayer titles, allowing gamers to team up with one another to avoid boredom. Thankfully, that has been proven wrong time and time again, and has been once more by Asobo Studio and Focus Home Interactive's entirely new IP, A Plague Tale: Innocence.

We're thrust into a medieval France during the Hundred Years' War, and immediately introduced to the patriarch and eldest daughter of the de Rune family. A quick tragedy and the reveal of supernatural elements sees a hasty return from the forests to the estate, before chaos rains down on young Amicia and her five-year-old brother, Hugo.

As the title suggests, a rampant plague is central to the narrative, with thousands of rats quickly spreading across the country. Not just happy with spreading their disease however, they will gnaw a body right down to the bone if there's enough of them around; their hunger never wanes.

Players take control of Amicia as she travels across southwest France, looking for allies in a world that's packed full of adversaries intent on taking the de Runes down. Keeping a close eye on Hugo is paramount to your mission, as the sibling creeps through small cracks to help progress your journey. Tension mounts whenever he's out of your vision, because of the threat of danger around every corner.

Stealth games have been on the rise in recent years, and that's what A Plague Tale is at its heart, but it manages to bring an experience that feels unlike any of those we've had in the past along for the ride. Equipping Amicia with a simple sling to defend herself, for example, ramps up the level of necessity when it comes to sticking to the shadows. Combat is a minor part of the game, putting story and environment ahead of all else.

At just five, Hugo is of course terrified of the open world. He's been confined to his bedroom for as long as he can remember, and so clings onto Amicia's hand for the majority of their journey. You can command him to stay in one place whilst you get things done, but leave him for too long and he'll begin to start screeching. This in turn alerts the enemies surrounding you, so you've got to do your best to manage both Hugo, and the world around you.

Family is something that has played a major part in many games, but it's down to the script to ensure that an emotional depth is delivered. Fortunately, that comes through here in spades. The relationship between Amicia and Hugo is complicated, and consistently evolving. They're not a sister-brother duo who have been very close in the past, so to see them forced to confront the wide open world together is astounding.

That world is utterly gorgeous, with stunning graphics providing one of the most exciting environments that I would have actually liked to explore more of. There's a whiff of an open world about this game, but for the most part, you are set on a linear path and unable to break away from that.

Taking a risk with a unique series, Asobo Studio and Focus Home Interactive have come out of the other end with style and substance. For that, they should be applauded. Aside from a couple of frame rate staggers and audio dropping randomly at three separate intervals, it was a slick run from start to end. Hopefully we'll be able to delve into this world again in the near future...

A Plague Tale: Innocence is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. A copy of the game was given to Female First on Xbox One, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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