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A Plague Tale: Requiem Is the Creepy Rat Swarm Game You Didn't Know You Needed

Even better, Xbox and PC gamers can play via an Xbox Game Pass subscription.

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Focus Entertainment

When I first entered the world of A Plague Tale: Requiem, all I could think about were the amazing medieval landscapes and lighting, the decent stealth combat and the effective voice acting and dialog. Then, a couple of hours in, a giant swarm of red-eyed rats started showing up and eating people. 

I guess I should have known to expect that, but I never got around to playing the original Plague Tale game from 2019, so that's on me. We're not talking Pizza Rat subway antics, either. These rats wash over the screen like a tidal wave, turning stages of the game into a giant death trap puzzle. 

Beside being an excellent example of what current-gen gaming should look like on the Xbox Series X/S platform, Plague Tale: Requiem is a nice, if creepy, break from the sameness of so many other 2022 games, mostly either fantasy action RPGs or free multiplayer shooters. It's half stealth game, half puzzle game and relentlessly dark and gory, so be prepared for that. 

A swarm of rats.

That's a lot of rats. 

Focus Entertainment

While many of my game-playing colleagues were aware of Plague Tale: Requiem, and it's gotten a wave of very positive reviews, this is definitely not a mainstream game with the name recognition of God of War, Call of Duty or most of the other new holiday season games. That's why I was pleased to see it added to the Xbox Game Pass library when it launched on Oct. 18. 

I've frequently said that Game Pass is one of the best values in gaming, offering a huge library of games for $10 to $15 a month, especially considering so many new games show up as part of the service. It's a great way to sample smaller, lesser-known games that you might not buy as standalone products. 

Read more: Xbox Game Pass: Best Games on Microsoft's Subscription Gaming Service

For example, without Game Pass, I might not have discovered great games like Plague Tale or Vampire Survivors, and I've also gotten to sample games that I now know just aren't for me, like Scorn. 

But Plague Tale is so good, I'd buy it even if it wasn't included in my Game Pass subscription. It's a bit trial-and-error, and you'll reload multiple times trying to sneak through a section, but I liked the variety between straight puzzles, other areas you can get through in multiple ways and occasional moments of abject rats-are-gonna-eat-me terror. If I had one primary complaint, it's that this highly detailed medieval world is usually grounded in realism, but occasionally makes a left turn into jarring supernaturalism (with shades of Willard). 

I've encouraged my colleagues to highlight similar below-the-radar games in the last weeks of 2022, so keep an eye out for their contributions. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Game Pass has evolved far beyond its Xbox-bound origins to become a subscription that delivers something for everyone who plays games, and now encompasses console and PC game downloads, access to online multiplayer services, a deal with gaming giant EA and a cloud-based service that streams games to nearly any device. 

Microsoft offers several versions, but because of how the features are sliced up between them, only the $15-a-month Ultimate plan, with all the benefits detailed above, really makes sense. Read our Xbox Game Pass review