Asobo Studio deserves kudos for the scale of the achievement delivered in the recently released A Plague Tale: Innocence. Where many smaller studios tap into established engines like Unreal Engine 4 or Unity for their technological needs, this outfit did things the old-fashioned way, developing its own proprietary engine technology. The end result is an absolutely beautiful game and one that scales remarkably well as we climb the console ladder and beyond to the heights of PC’s most powerful graphics hardware.
I think what makes A Plague Tale really work from a visual perspective is more than just the core engine technology – though its accomplishments are significant. Combining a linear, story-driven experience with a striking art style and design running on this tech sees all components deliver something greater than the sum of their parts.
A Plague Tale: Innocence is a wonderful-looking game from its environments, to its characters, and its effects work. Just the first scene is an absolute treat, revealing a rich post-process pipeline that’s reminiscent of Unreal Engine 4 at its most resplendent. There’s an embarrassment of riches here, with a beautifully soft volumetric lighting solution, which looks good on all platforms but absolutely shines on PC at its highest settings. Volumetrics don’t just come from the sun: lighting piercing fog, suggesting that colour and shadow are drawn from smaller point lights, such as lanterns or torches. It’s also impressive to see volumetrics beam through stained glass windows, with the varying colours of the glass illuminating light shards and – impressively – the ground too. It’s just one example of an attention to detail that is much appreciated and sometimes overlooked.