Requiem Made Me Laugh at Death and Disease
This article continues spoilers for A Plague Tale: Requiem and indirect spoilers for its predecessor, Innocence — it also contains laughing at a corpse cage.
I got such a kick out of A Plague Tale: Innocence that, Game Pass or not, I was always going to dive into its sequel. What I didn’t expect was that, far from being traumatized, I spent a good chunk of A Plague Tale: Requiem’s second chapter laughing myself silly at a cage full of corpses.
Admittedly, that sounds terrible, but in my defense, Requiem’s beekeepers had already put me in a slightly silly mood. Watching them wander around in their wicker face masks, I could barely restrain myself from yelling, “Not the bees!” at the screen.
But it was the corpse cage “puzzle” in A Plague Tale: Requiem Chapter 2 that really cracked me up, almost certainly the opposite of developer Asobo Studio’s intent. For those who could use elaboration — there was a high ledge I needed to get to, and up until that point, protagonist Amicia and sidekick Lucas had been shoving carts around, then clambering on top of them.
But poking around, I discovered the base of a cart. That clearly wasn’t going to be enough, but luckily there was a corpse-filled cage hanging from the ceiling. The solution (which Lucas points out if you’re not fast enough) was to fire a stone at the chain holding the cage. Then when it fell onto the cart, I was supposed to push it all the way to the ledge.
That was precisely what I did, but I was chuckling all the way. It wasn’t just the weird, gore-drenched puzzle I was laughing at; it was also the sheer ham-handedness of the situation. Asobo expected me to react with horror as I shoved the corpse cart around the corner, dwelling on the nightmare I’d encountered. And just in case I wasn’t horrified enough, the next area was awash with the dead, corpses piled up like so much dirty laundry.
Was I shocked? Yes, but only because I couldn’t figure out how to make Amicia pose in photo mode as I snapped a few pictures of the Wall O’ Corpses. If it’s good enough for Horizon Forbidden West, it’s good enough for A Plague Tale: Requiem, dammit. What’s the point of posing with the dead if you can’t stick your tongue out?
However, A Plague Tale: Requiem’s designers are partly to blame for my reaction. They wrongly assumed that putting me knee-deep in the dead would produce an emotional reaction. Instead, over-the-top efforts had the opposite effect. I also had the sense that the game was trying to one-up its predecessor, which, given how it ended, is quite a challenge to set itself.
But that’s not to say I laughed my way through A Plague Tale: Requiem. Once I got past this false start, the game started getting things right. How? It gave me people to care about. Yes, seeing the once lively market wreathed in gloom was affecting. But it was nothing compared to stumbling across the corpse of the flower seller, someone who had treated Amicia with real kindness.
Seeing Hugo suffer, too, was a real gut punch. I’d smiled as I watched Amicia indulge his childhood adventures, because it was all she could do to offer him a shred of normalcy. It also served as a reminder that he was just a child; it was heartbreaking to watch him crawling on the floor, earnestly wondering if he was dying.
Maybe I’ve played too many survival horror games to be swayed by a pile of computer-generated corpses without something to make me invested in their grim fates. But forcing me to shove dead bodies about to make progress, that early in proceedings, was so ridiculously on the nose that it was never going to end in anything other than laughter.