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How A Plague Tale: Innocence Manipulates Your Decisions

A Plague Tale: Innocence uses the same narrative feature as Telltale's The Walking Dead and Life Is Strange 2 to elevate emotional and tense moments and it's surprisingly effective.

Most games make it pretty clear how to be good and how to be evil. There are some recent examples, however, of games that make morality and decision-making far more complicated.

How? With one clever addition: kids.

In a new video feature, Jess McDonell examines how games like the recent adventure-stealth title A Plague Tale: Innocence and others like God of War, The Last of Us, and The Walking Dead use children as a sort of moral guidepost.

Having a child by your side can change how you play, and perhaps more significantly it can change how you feel about your decisions in games. You might want to be a murderous, bloodthirsty action hero playing solo, but with a child by your side you may want to think twice about rampaging through your foes.

Be sure to watch the full video above for our thoughts.

GameSpot's A Plague Tale review scored the game an 8/10. Reviewer Khee Hoon Chan said the game tells an "emotive story of resilience against harrowing odds."

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gamingdevil800

I thought the Kid you have to look after was done very well. Followers in these types of games always run the risk of being an annoyance or a hindrance but I feel the developers did quite well in balancing the child's immaturity and usefulness. All the followers really were well done due to their own skill sets/abilities.

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verysalt

Linear game, didn't see any moral decisions to be done albeit I am only 4-5 hours into the game.

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DEVILTAZ35

@verysalt: There is no way they played through the actual game to write this article. It is not a choose your own adventure story. It is broken into chapters where you have limited choice in how you go about an objective and in some chapters you have no choice at all.

The only decisions are whether or not to kill a soldier yourself or have the rats take care of it basically in most circumstances . Other times the game gives you zero choice on whether you have to kill to survive or not.

If this is in any way a moral choice then morals sure have changed over the years.

He is dead either way unless you try put everyone to sleep with a potion but there are nowhere near enough ingredients to do that to every enemy in the game anyway plus putting one to sleep can often get you killed as it spooks any other guards in the room and unless they are facing away from you and are not alarmed you cannot then use it on a 2nd person.

This game is not Splinter cell by any means so that choice is just not there to run through the entire game world without killing anyone.

The biggest choice you have really is whether you want to explore for hidden extras or not which has nothing to do with the story other than they often cleverly refer to the said object in relation to the characters which is a nice touch rather than just some random bit of treasure.

Such as it might be a child's toy and you get look at a brief description of the piece which then further may explain it's heritage or what it was used for back then etc.

This is a good game with a very decent story that is well acted and has so so combat which holds it back in a lot of regards as it is all just too easy with no real skill being involved to go through the game.

What it is not however is a moral choice game so promoting it that way only serves to misinform people as to what type of game this is.

Yes the Kid is sick and you look after him on a basic level at least at first story wise but it is not a case of do this to make him better , don't do this and he gets worse sort of thing it just progresses at it's own pace out of your control.

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tempertress

@deviltaz35: Hi there, I finished the game before writing this feature. I don't think your decision-making is tied to execution - I think action and emotional reaction is still significant. In regard to action and story shifting I think Life Is Strange is a great example which is why I highlighted it in addition, but largely I wanted to discuss the emotional narrative impact of feeling responsibility for a ward. Even decision-making games like TWD end up in the same place more often than not, but how and why they make you alter your actions along the way is quite interesting.

Staff
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JustTheTip

@verysalt: There aren’t any moral decisions as far as changing things in the game. It’s super linear. Your only decisions are whether you want to sneak past someone or kill them.

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DEVILTAZ35

God of War was pathetic and the kid totally ruined the game for me. I just couldn't play it after hearing that whiny voice. Kratos would have tossed him off a mountain or told him to man up.

As for Plague Tale: Innocence it's a mostly great game but i didn't see anything particularly amazing from an emotional perspective. It's all just to serve a crafted story but kids/adults it doesn't really have any bearing on the outcome or gameplay to the extent it probably should. Also some of the forced chasing scenes make no sense in the context of the story and neither does just going through a door to escape or running up a flight of steps.

I never felt the dialogue got in the way of the action in the way it too often does in God of War though so for that i was grateful.

Last of us i had the same issue where Ellie who almost ruined the game for me until you get to control her later in the game.

Boss battles are all disappointingly easy in Plague though .

Probably the main criticism with the game is you never feel any pressure at any stage to complete something within a certain time yet time is of the essence so often in the story but in actual gameplay this is hardly the case outside of a pretty samey boss fight that again gives you too much leeway to take him down.

It's Good from a Gameplay perspective that it gives you time as you are often left to explore your surroundings but it can clash with the otherwise decent story at times.

i am glad personally that this strikes a pretty good balance of not being too dialogue heavy and not too gameplay light but it really needed to up the difficulty factor to make it much more engaging. It's a beautiful world but you sort just float through it to a certain extent.

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lorddaggeroff

I have a nice juicy wagyu beef burger on my kitchen table, however I do want to eat it it's cost a fortune but I think my decisions being manipulated because there seems to be a huge scary rat next to it.

I really wanna eat it but I can't.

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tempertress

@lorddaggeroff: If there was a starving NPC child who wanted it also then we are on the same wavelength man haha.

Staff
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JustTheTip

I hit everyone I could in the head with rocks and fed the rest to the rats. It’s a game. I don’t feel for the non-existent characters. I didn’t play this any differently than I would’ve if it were solo or adults.

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DEVILTAZ35

@justthetip: Yeah that was a bit silly how so many didn't have helmets. I did like the mechanic where you throw the stuff at them to get them to remove the helmet though that was funny.

Unfortunately just not enough variety in that regard though but it would be difficult without going full on supernatural and it's not The Witcher lol .

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JustTheTip

@deviltaz35: Lol. Yeah. I agree. I definitely enjoyed the game. I only had a very vague idea of what to expect. It was super easy, but had a good story.

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DEVILTAZ35

@justthetip: The story carries it but i had to laugh when i read this fluff piece about moral choices and how children force you to think differently . If it was true i wouldn't mind them writing it at all but it has little if any relevance to this game.

It just seems more an excuse to promote walking simulators like Walking Dead yet this game is not a walking sim it is actually a proper game.

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tempertress

@justthetip: Each to their own!

Staff
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lorddaggeroff

@justthetip: Good job now there's less greenhouse gas immisions.

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Louis

Nice observation. While I usually try and play "good" there are games that make it easy to let loose when the enemy is just obviously bad, e.g. Raiders in Fallout 4.

I think the only game I played with a child sidekick was The Walking Dead. And yes, I liked how that shaped the story and my actions. I'll need to keep my eyes open for more.

Thanks for the video!

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tempertress

@Louis: Agreed! Glad you liked it.

Staff
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JSprunk

Has anyone played A Plague Tale at all yet? They're spamming ads for it over at Game Informer almost as much as Gamespot is spamming ads for Rage 2.

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gamingdevil800

@jsprunk: Is that sarcasm? I have it and it's pretty good.

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JSprunk

@gamingdevil800: Half sarcasm, half serious. I actually did want to know if Plague Tale was good, but I was skeptical since it was being spammed by Game Informer, but didn't seem to be advertised anywhere else. I'm actually considering buying it. Thank you.

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zanelli

Nice video Jess! A Plague Tale really seemed to pop up out of nowhere and I am looking forwards to playing through it sometime soon.

Moderator
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tempertress

@zanelli: Thank you! I agree, it's a really great gem of a game.

Staff
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lorddaggeroff

@zanelli: Don't you work in the same building as the reviewer? If no is the answer oh.

If yes ?

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zanelli

@lorddaggeroff: Haha no I am in the UK. Jess is at the Sydney office.

Moderator
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Cbordi

bah, in a world of medieval terror the damn child better be prepared for the bloody worst!

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JustTheTip

@Cbordi: Right?!

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