Welcome back to our devblog series where we unveil a wealth of details about the making of A Plague Tale: Innocence, Asobo Studio’s upcoming adventure game coming 2019 to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Today, we’re excited to share more info about a “protagonist" that you can’t miss in our game: the rats!
Let’s welcome game director Kevin Choteau who will cover the creation of the rats in A Plague Tale: Innocence, as well as the many challenges the team had to face during development.
The rats stemmed from our will to tell a story about two children facing the cruelty of the world. We looked for a setting that offered the best possible frame and context for a story about fragility and innocence.
The Middle Ages (1348) was perfect for what we were looking for. This is the time of the Black Death, the Hundred Years' War, the Inquisition, the “routiers” (mercenary soldiers terrorising the French countryside) and other dark events.
The Black Death was the most interesting element to explore, as a common belief is that it was spread largely by rats. Using the rats is a great way to give a body to an immaterial, invisible disease, and to create gameplay mechanics around it.
The Representation of the Rats
Rats eat everything. It’s a notion that players get pretty quickly. Rats trigger common and old fears, they hide in the dark and move in massive hordes. It’s the quantity that makes the threat tangible.
Kevin Choteau - Game Director
It’s also the credibility of their behaviour that gives this effect. They’re always aggressive towards the characters and the scale between rats and children reinforces the idea of powerlessness - even the adults run away.
We slowly introduce the rats to the player, building a legend around them and making the first encounter even more memorable. We’ve worked a lot on the staging and directing of this scene throughout the development process to strongly mark players with it. Various moments further in the game maintain the threat at its maximum.
Interactions between the Rats and Protagonists
Near the start of A Plague Tale: Innocence, the rats are a constant direct threat our heroes have to face. Later, Amicia will learn to use them at her advantage to escape from other threats. This was planned from the beginning, and is the basis of our triptych between light, humans and rats, as well as the interaction between these three elements.
The gameplay relies on the alchemy between these various elements: how to push back the rats through fire and lights and use them to counter other threats while staying careful as they can still eat you in the blink of an eye!
The inspiration for the rats in A Plague Tale: Innocence
We really struggled to find interesting source materials for the rats. We’ve watched a lot of wildlife documentary about their life and how they react when they’re flushed out.
Rats are a very smart species with fascinating and cruel organisational systems. It’s pretty unique, and often used to convey an image of parasite over brute strength.
See you soon for more behind-the-scenes information and anecdotes about the creative process behind A Plague Tale: Innocence!
A Plague Tale: Innocence releases in 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.