A French-style masterpiece: Asobo Studio tells us more about A Plague Tale: Innocence

Usually, we just want to kick back and play video games to relax. But sometimes we all feel that need for something more, for something deeper, something rich. That something is A Plague Tale: Innocence. Through its riveting and deeply touching narrative, it mesmerized players all across the world, won many awards, and put the spotlight on a team of people determined to craft titles that would be remembered as part of gaming's history. So today, let's learn more about how A Plague Tale: Innocence was made, and who better to guide us than Aurélie Belzanne, head of communication at Asobo Studio.
GOG.COM: Hey Aurélie, thanks for speaking to us today. First off, could you introduce the two main characters of A Plague Tale: Innocence and the general setting of the game?
Aurélie Belzanne (Head of Communication): Hi! The two main heroes of A Plague Tale: Innocence are Amicia, a 14-year-old girl, and her young brother Hugo who is around 5 years old. They don’t really know each other at the beginning of the story; they grew up apart because Hugo is sick and very fragile, and their parents locked him up to try to cure him. But a tragic event throws them on their own, in the middle of a chaotic world ravaged by an unexplained disease that kills everyone on its path and personified by huge devouring swarms of rats. The whole story is basically about how to grow up and survive facing one of the most extreme situations that humanity was faced with.
Could you tell us why you chose to set your story in medieval times, and how being based in France helped in creating the landscapes of the game?
The 14th century is a turning point in European history. Major events happened that changed the lives of millions of people forever exactly like Amicia and Hugo, our two sibling heroes. There’s the Hundred Years' War with the Plantagenets and Valois fighting for the French throne, the Inquisition, the Black Death decimating the population indiscriminately, etc. We were looking for a particular context and this one was just perfect for what we wanted to tell: a brutal, grim, yet deeply inspiring tale – just like the folktales we would read or hear when we were young children. Moreover, here in Bordeaux, France, all around our studio, we can still see lots of medieval vestiges. It seemed a good start to explore.
The game was acclaimed for its heart-wrenching narration and the beautiful relationship between Amicia and Hugo. What was the hardest part in creating this deeply human relationship and making it so believable?
It was a mix of lengthy research in narratively intense situations that could be believable, both in terms of feelings and interactivity, and in lovable yet grounded character designs, while also finding a cast that could create a deep connection with the players. It was definitely a risk to choose children, but, in the end, our young actors were fantastic and proved we made the right decisions. All these elements were key to creating strong and moving bonds between the two kids and with the other characters they meet.
Olivier Deriviere composed a grim and emotional soundtrack, how early in the development of the game did the work on its music start and how did both those things influence each other?
Olivier’s creation is definitely something that helped the game find its tone and a way to touch players. He immediately embraced our story and game with as much passion as us, and what it did just magnified our vision. Together with the team, he found how to connect the mood and the player’s actions. Alongside him, we learned things that helped build a grounded and tense atmosphere, blending sound design, instrumental melodies, ambient noises, and dialogues. It is not just a professional partnership between us all, it is something stronger and very rich.
We must admit we're not huge fans of critters, how well did the whole team handle spending their days amidst swarms of ferocious rats?
It was not such a big deal for us, fortunately. In many of our games, there were already one or two rats here and there - maybe it was a sign! The truth is that rats are part of the cast somehow. They are not only embodying the forces of nature, but are also one of the main characters. Of course, it can be something disgusting because we wanted them to feel visceral, massive, and never-before-seen. If they feel that way to the players, it means we took on this challenge in the right way.
Ready to experience a story about love and survival? Dive into A Plague Tale: Innocence and discover France as you've never seen it before.