With the recent review for Asobo Studio’s excellent sequel A Plague Tale: Requiem, we were also lucky enough to take some time and speak to the development team behind it. The first game was an out-of-the-blue success, with it winning multiple awards and garnering a cult-classic status amongst its fans.
What lessons from the first game did you learn for the second?
“For the first game, we didn’t have many experiences in narrative games yet. It was our first game of this genre and even if we gave everything to try to make the best game possible, many aspects needed to be improved. We spent considerable time studying feedback given by both players and critics. This helped us a lot in deciding which areas we could improve in Requiem to make the game experience more impactful.”
Anyone that’s played either of the two games will no doubt be able to pick out the influences a mile away, especially A Plague Tale: Requiem, and it’s no surprise that Asobo Studios confirmed exactly what we thought.
What games do you feel inspired both the first and second game, and in what ways?
“The most obvious references are the Naughty Dog’s games, especially Last of Us, which had a huge impact on us as gamers, both in terms of gameplay, technique and storytelling – it was a critical turn for the whole industry in the adventure genre anyway, in terms of maturity, and direction. It’s difficult to ignore games like Ico, Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons, or Journey, which succeed marvelously at building a relationship between player and companion through the gameplay, with a true emotional outcome.”
Did you expect the first game to be such a huge success with both critics and gamers themselves, and did that have any effect on the second game?
“We did not expect anything actually, we were thrilled with how players received Innocence. We felt like we were daydreaming when we read the first reviews, because we did not expect such an enthusiastic reception. What changed with A Plague Tale: Requiem, is that we had fans having expectations, and we wanted to make a great sequel because we didn’t want to disappoint them. Today we have more experiences, so we wanted to offer a wilder experience to the player.”
The jump up in power, graphics and more in the newest consoles was always going to benefit a game like A Plague Tale: Requiem, if for no other reason than increasing the amount of terrifying, disease ridden rats on screen. Asobo Studios took a lot more than just rats from the machines though…
What did the current gen allow you to do that last gen wouldn’t?
“We have redesigned everything, we have started from the basics to rebuild our gameplay, our AI, and our visual effects. We have, of course, greatly increased the quality of the game by taking advantage of the new platforms and especially for the rendering of our characters and their faces. Moreover, we increased the ‘viewing distance’ allowing us to offer a more open game. In Innocence some parts could look a bit like a theatre set due to technical limitations. For Requiem, we’ve been able to push the horizon much further! I would like to add that every technical advancement that has been implemented was done to support the narrative.
The capabilities of this new generation increase our possibilities tenfold! We took advantage of the new gen to develop one of the key features of A Plague Tale: the rats. In concrete terms, this allows us to make the horrific experience even more traumatic with a number of rats that can be displayed on the screen that has increased tenfold compared to Innocence. Furthermore, to improve the immersive experience of the game, we took full advantage of the possibilities offered by DualSense. For example, the triggers can give real sensory feedback to the player with the associated gameplay: it is a sensitivity feedback that will reproduce the realism of using a weapon or a tool.”
A Plague Tale: Requiem – Bigger and Better
Was there any storylines or gameplay that had to be cut due to time/budget restrictions, if so, what were they?
“Well, cutting things is an entire part of the development process and along three years, it happens a lot. The story took a solid year to finish, and it’s as a very iterative process as the levels needed to start being fleshed out at a point – so we kept adjusting things after that, again and again. We stayed focus on the core concept of the trip to La Cuna though, but for example, in an older version of the story, the group was leaving the island to go to Marseille much sooner, which gave an entire new level… before we decided that exploiting more of La Cuna was much more beneficial to the story – as it allowed the island to sort of becoming a character in itself. Most of the time, cuts were not made because of budget or time, but based on how elements were fitting or not in the game as a whole.”
Just like little Hugo and Amicia in A Plague Tale: Requiem, the developers themselves are incredibly humble in their endeavours.
How do you manage to provide such Top tier entertainment in both games regarding story, gameplay, attention to detail in the environment and more with what many would consider a relatively small team?
“We did our best with what we had: motivation, passion and a sheer drive to realise our project!”
Of course, given the opportunity and that ending, it’d have been remiss of us not to have asked the question.
What plans do you have for extra content for the second game, or have plans already moved onto hopefully a third installment?
“The future will tell us, but we don’t have plans yet!”
A Plague Tale: Requiem is another success for Asobo Studio, and with the latest release, they have a real chance of crafting and continuing what could become a huge franchise in the next few years of gaming history.