Games of 2022: A Plague Tale: Requiem delivered the best big sister

I think fiction sometimes forgets the bonds between brothers and sisters and how powerful they can be. I think we usually see siblings as a way to show two sides of the same coin – one that turned out to be evil while the other turned out to be good, like me and my brother. But when a story wants us to feel that harrowing sense of dread or loss and despair, it’s usually a parent-child setup that they choose.

But A Plague Tale doesn’t – A Plague Tale relies on the sister-brother bond. It is the central concept of the series: experiencing the brutality of 14th-century France through the vulnerability of two children. Well, “kids” – one is a teenager, 15-year-old Amicia, and the other is a five-year-old boy, Hugo. The series begins with them on the run after their family was attacked, and they never really stop running until the end of A Plague Tale: Requiem.

In all that time – about a year, I think – Amicia is Hugo’s be-all and end-all. She keeps him alive day after day and alive in the face of murderous soldiers and murderous rats, and there are hordes of both. And through all of this, and perhaps because of it, a deep bond forms between them.

A Plague Tale: Requiem is also a visually stunning adventure.

Maybe that bond was there all along. Maybe it’s there between all siblings. What might get in the way are all the mundane little things like, “Daaaad, John stole my panthro!” (I was really into Thundercats) and “Daaaad, Rob sucks!” (I usually was.) Maybe it’s bigger issues that blow the bickering away.

I’ve seen something like this in my life. I have watched a brother and sister, also with a significant age difference like Hugo and Amicia, go through a profound life change, clinging to each other like swimmers to a buoy, as if trying to stay afloat.

There’s a lot more at stake in A Plague Tale, of course – there are no soldiers or plagues in the example I’m thinking of, but underneath that fear of separation was basically the same. It’s an atomic kind of force to try and split.

A Plague Tale brother and sister, Hugo and Amicia look at each other meaningfully. They are bloody and bruised and the world is against them. You only have each other.
“Hugo, did you steal my Thundercats?” Pssst, no Bertie, don’t ruin the moment.

That’s why the brother-sister relationship really stays with me in the game because I believe in the power of it. I’ve seen it. So I see the desperation in Amicia and I think she will do anything for it.

In fact, there’s a moment deep in the game, figuratively and literally, where you can see Amicia’s desperation to protect Hugo – or someone very similar to Amicia – that almost manifests itself in a tableau of skeletal remains. And I remember it choking me; it was heartbreaking.

I will remember this when time has passed and the memory of the game’s mechanics and discrete details fade. I will think of Amicia and Hugo clinging to each other and their brotherly and sisterly love.

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Fry Electronics Team

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