A Plague Tale: Requiem was one of my favourite games of last year. You might have noticed I recorded – and wrote – a whole Making Of A Plague Tale feature earlier this year. Well, I also spoke to the standout star of it – Charlotte McBurney – who plays Amicia in the game. We spoke shortly before she found out whether she’d won the Performer in a Lead Role BAFTA, which sadly she didn’t – Kratos’ Christopher Judge did. Nor did I manage to publish our conversation, because this year has been very busy. But now there’s a bit of quiet, I’m returning to it, to release it as something of a Christmas gift.
Charlotte McBurney has had an incredible rise to fame. She was only 16 when she was cast in the first A Plague Tale game, Innocence, during the middle of her GCSE exams. Then, when it came time to record, she had to run home from sixth form college to fit it in.
The developer of the game, Asobo, was cautious with McBurney in A Plague Tale: Innocence. She was young and the studio wasn’t sure what she could do – they knew this was McBurney’s first voice acting job. It didn’t take long for McBurney to pick up the skills she needed, though, nor did it take long for Asobo to realise the talent she had. The role quickly increased.
When A Plague Tale: Innocence finally came out, the impact was muted. Not many people at McBurney’s school had heard of it, because it was a new series without much of a following, so life went on more or less as normal. But as more people started to discover the game, due to some shrewd Game Pass and PlayStation Plus inclusions, and see the quality there, A Plague Tale began to build an audience.
McBurney heard there was going to be a sequel when she came out of a Final Fantasy 16 recording session one day – a game that would, funnily enough, be released after A Plague Tale: Requiem (FF16 was released this year). McBurney plays the younger Jill Warrick in FF16, by the way.
This time, with Requiem, Asobo knew what McBurney was capable of, so it knew it could be more ambitious with her role. Here’s what A Plague Tale series director Kevin Choteau told me. “She [McBurney] has changed the way we wrote Amicia because she was able to do everything,” he said. “It’s why I told her, about Requiem, ‘We were able to push the limits in every direction because we knew that you were able to do it, to convey the right feeling, the right emotion, with the right intensity every time.'”
Asobo was true to its word: Requiem was relentless for Amicia. She is a sister clinging on to her brother, to her sanity perhaps, in a world that would ruthlessly take both from her. McBurney was asked to do a lot – she ran the full range of emotions from tender and kind to ferocious and bloodthirsty. We focus in detail on the day she spent recording that climactic moment in the game.
Whether or not there’ll be a third Plague Tale game, I don’t know, and Asobo didn’t sound particularly sure either when we spoke. I believe it’s more likely the studio will focus on something else now, a new story in a new setting with new characters, but also strongly narrative-led and emotional. Should it go back to A Plague Tale, McBurney is shoo-in for another starring performance, but even if it doesn’t, perhaps she’ll feature anyway.
With a significant Final Fantasy 16 credit to her name as well, the future is bright for Charlotte McBurney. Perhaps a star has been born.