Feature Article

A Plague Tale: Innocence Is A Lot More Tense On PS5, And Not So Great On Switch

PS5's DualSense controller helps to immerse you into A Plague Tale: Innocence's horrifying rat-filled adventure.

A Plague Tale: Innocence is now available for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and Switch, the latter of which is a cloud-based version of the game. Publisher Focus Home Interactive passed along PS5 and Switch codes so that we could see how both versions compare to the original game.

On PS5, A Plague Tale features faster load times and audio enhancements, but the big changes come from the DualSense controller's haptic rumble sync with 3D sound and adaptive triggers, which make for a more immersive experience during the game's tense moments. The cloud-based Switch version of the game is lacking in comparison, but A Plague Tale is at least playable on Nintendo's console.

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First released in May 2019, A Plague Tale: Innocence is a stealth-focused action-adventure survival horror game that sees you play as Amicia de Rune, a young noble who is thrust into the role of a caretaker when she and her younger brother, Hugo, flee the de Rune estate following an attack led by the French Inquisition. While trying to escape the Inquisition's clutches, Amicia and Hugo discover that France is being claimed by the Bite, a dangerous plague being spread by an ever-growing sea of ravenous rats.

Though the new generation of consoles enhances A Plague Tale: Innocence's visuals and audio, improving the overall experience, the PS5 and Switch do not fundamentally alter what you get playing the game on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. So GameSpot's original analysis of the game stands, as does A Plague Tale's excellent depiction of a sibling relationship.

In GameSpot's A Plague Tale: Innocence review, Khee Hoon Chan wrote, "Scenes of desolation and tragedy mark Innocence's dark, intriguing world, tied together with a narrative that's genuinely moving without resorting to fetishizing the children's sufferings. Despite their challenging situation, the siblings make do with what little help they get, bolstered by Amicia's astounding resourcefulness, to survive this catastrophic mess. The game also magnifies the cataclysmic impact of the Black Death through a lens of cosmic horror, invoking the frightful atmosphere of H.P. Lovecraft's macabre stories; the slithering rats, whether they are scurrying in the dank blackness beneath the city or trailing around half-eaten cadavers, never fails to be disconcerting. On the other hand, its villainous characters are almost painfully one-dimensional, with predictable twists and turns in the plot. This renders some of its revelations lackluster."

PlayStation 5

Playing A Plague Tale: Innocence on PS5 is a real treat. The new generation enhances the game to run in native 4K resolution at 60fps--both colorful moments of calm and tense instances of sneaking through the dark are more vibrant and detailed than before. Plus, the faster load times means there is virtually no wait when transitioning into a new scene or jumping back into your most recent save from the main menu.

But the DualSense is the star of the show, especially during moments where A Plague Tale: Innocence leans into its survival-horror and stealth elements to create a mounting sense of tension or dread. Which, for this game, is often.

For example, the right trigger (which is used to sprint or toss objects) throbs against your finger as Amicia runs, growing stronger and faster with every passing second to simulate her increased heartbeat. It literally feels like it's harder to hold the trigger down and keep running as you both see and hear her beginning to pant from the exertion. The controller adjusts the sensation depending on where you're walking as well, whether you're slowly sludging through deep mud or carefully stepping over mounds of dead bodies.

On PS5, the DualSense vibrates to differentiate between walking on solid ground and someone's corpse.
On PS5, the DualSense vibrates to differentiate between walking on solid ground and someone's corpse.

The DualSense better punctuates surprises and jump scares with its haptic feedback as well. A few of the moments that didn't see me jump in my chair when I played A Plague Tale: Innocence back in 2019 managed to better surprise me this time around, enhanced with the DualSense's audio and rumble sync working in tandem with the visual reveal on screen.

Between the enhanced visuals and the DualSense controller, A Plague Tale: Innocence's most tense enemy encounters--the rats--are even more terrifying. You can feel the rumble of the rats through the controller long before they erupt from the ground or scurry from cracks in the walls, and the PS5 further details each individual rodent so you can better see the hundreds of rats that make up the horde as opposed to just seeing a withering black mass of movement. And the 3D audio is no slouch either--it sounds like you're surrounded by rats when Amicia and Hugo find themselves in that situation.

Because of the DualSense controller, PS5 is now my favorite place to play A Plague Tale: Innocence. If you happen to have Sony's new console and you haven't played A Plague Tale yet, this is the best way to experience the game.

Switch

On Switch, the experience is (understandably) far less impressive. A Plague Tale did not originally launch on Switch as developer Asobo Studio said that Nintendo's console did not have the hardware specs to run the game. The studio has overcome that limitation by making a Switch version playable via cloud streaming. So to play on Switch, you'll need a stable internet connection.

Provided your connection is good, A Plague Tale: Innocence runs in 1080p resolution at 30fps on Switch while docked. When I was playing, the resolution seemed to remain pretty steady, though the frame rate did dip a few times and turning quickly caused a major amount of motion blur.

When playing on Switch in handheld, it can be difficult to see where you're going or what you have to do next in A Plague Tale's darker moments.
When playing on Switch in handheld, it can be difficult to see where you're going or what you have to do next in A Plague Tale's darker moments.

If you're planning on playing A Plague Tale: Innocence on Switch, docked is the ideal way to play. In handheld, the frame rate regularly drops below 30fps--I got a lot more random still frames and the screen blurred pretty much any time I turned the camera. Additionally, the lighting contrast in handheld isn't as good as when the Switch is docked. Instead of the light gradually fading into darkness, there are just spots of light and spots of dark and very little to blend the two.

This is a problem because A Plague Tale: Innocence bases the entirety of its stealth sections that involve rats on adjusting the light of an area, forcing you to use light sources in the environment to redirect the horde of rodents away from where you're trying to go. This oftentimes means you need to notice certain details on the edge of your current light source or far off in the darkness among the withering mass of rats in order to figure out what to do next, and that can be frustratingly difficult to do on Switch in handheld. If you're planning on picking up A Plague Tale on Switch, you'll have a much easier time navigating its frequent, dimly lit moments while the console is docked. Considering the appeal of the Switch is being able to play certain console games on a handheld device and handheld is the worst way to play this game, you're much better off just picking up A Plague Tale on Xbox, PlayStation, or PC if possible.

That said, the game does run competently on Switch while docked. So if Nintendo's console is all you have or just what you prefer, you can enjoy A Plague Tale: Innocence this way. I just wouldn't recommend it if you have any other option.

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jordanramee

Jordan Ramée

Jordan Ramée has been covering video games and anime since 2016, cultivating a skill set that allows him to transform his unhealthy obsessions into what he would argue is compelling content (we won't tell him if you don't). Do not let him know that you're playing Hollow Knight--he will take that as a sign that you wish to talk about the lore for the next five hours.

A Plague Tale: Innocence

A Plague Tale: Innocence

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