Orphans Amicia and her little brother Hugo, must travel through 14th century France and escape the plague ridden villages they encounter. All they have is each other in this story about grief, family, and survival. A Plague Tale: Innocence is a third person adventure game developed by French studio, Asobo Studio, and published by Focus Home Interactive. This game is beautifully rendered and has a dark brooding atmosphere. Unfortunately, I was only able to play a few hours of this game because it’s not very accessible for disabled gamers.
The developers of Plague Tale admitted that their game was inspired by the Last of Us. However, when it comes to gameplay it seems like they took all of the worst aspects of that game while simultaneously making Plague Tale even less accessible. Plague Tale utilizes every button on the controller. The left triggers are for aiming your slingshot and firing, the right triggers are for sprinting and selecting different ammo. The left control stick moves your character and the right control stick adjusts the camera. The directional pad is used for giving your brother orders and the symbol buttons help you interact, crouch, and climb over obstacles. Plague Tale’s gameplay mostly focuses on stealth mechanics and puzzles, but it was clear to me there was a set way to play with very little wiggle room to experiment. The Last of Us definitely had difficult gameplay, but even that game let you choose your playstyle a little better.
Disabled gamers with fine motor skill impairments are going to have a very hard time playing Plague Tale. There are no options for customizing controls what so ever. This means if you have trouble with the default controls you are out of luck. Like I said before, Plague Tale makes you press every button on the controller, but even worse the game often forces you to press 2 or 3 buttons at once. For example, early on in the game you are taught how to use the slingshot. You have to press the right trigger to choose the ammo you want, move the right control stick to maneuver the menu, all while you have to hold down the left trigger. It’s a daunting task for those with physical limitations. There is an aim assist function in the options menu and it has different settings, but aiming still requires you to be very accurate. What I mean is if a target is 20 feet above you, you still need to aim very close to it. Even on the strongest setting, it won’t lock on to the nearest target automatically like some games. Some of this could have been overlooked if the camera would have been more helpful, but it doesn’t really follow your movements. Having the option to make the camera orient to the back of you would have made things a lot easier. I was only able to play 2 hours of this game because I got stuck on a part where you had to hold the Sprint button, press climb, and move the camera all while you’re trying to escape from enemies. It was all too much for me I’m afraid. For all I know, the game gets a lot easier from that point on, but it was completely inaccessible for me and I think it will be for many other disabled gamers with fine motor skill impairments.
Visually speaking the game is dark at times but there are brightness options available to change if you like. I didn’t see any color distinguishing items or puzzles, but again there’s really no way of knowing because I only played a few hours of the game. I do know most of the game consists of grey and brown colors, so some colorblind players may have issues seeing certain objects. Plague Tale does allow you to turn on visual cues to make the game focus on important items. Those features may help gamers with visual impairments. For deaf gamers, there are subtitles available in the options menu. Take note that the game doesn’t automatically turn them on so you will have to pause the game and turn them on manually.
Plague Tale is a gorgeous game to look at and I have been told it has a powerful story about survival and family duty. However, the gameplay had too many physical limitations for me and I wasn’t able to get very far. The subtitles in the game should let many deaf players have a chance, but disabled gamers with fine motor skill impairments will most certainly hit a wall when it comes to moving forward in the game. I do realize that Asobo Studio is a relatively new company and I understand they may not be adept at accessibility just yet. Still, I think it’s important to make any game playable for as many people as possible. For now this game is completely inaccessible to me.
Overall Rating: Inaccessible
Visual Rating: Partially Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Inaccessible
Auditory Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Released For: PS4, Xbox One, and PC
ESRB Rating: M