Sean Bean Reading William Blake is My Kind of PR Stunt

By Rich Stanton on at

In the business of promoting video games, money gets spent on some truly daft stuff: everything from pop-up 'experiences' and terrible themed cakes to over-elaborate review kits and influencer junkets. I will never forget opening a longish package from an Eastern European developer desperate to get their 'epic fantasy RPG' reviewed, and a shortsword falling onto my lap. I ended up giving that game 3/10, so on the bright side at least I had a method of defence against angry developers.

Around the launch of any big title there's a bunch of associated nonsense, as the studio and its publisher and press teams try anything and everything to get the game's name in front of you. Ten trailers in the fortnight leading up to release, daily 'news blasts' about some voice actor or hitherto-unrevealed feature, and of course the constant follow-ups asking how we could possibly have not covered this. It takes something special to get through the filter, so A Plague Tale: Innocence — take a bow.

This lot decided, you know what, let's just get Sean Bean to read out a brilliant William Blake poem.

'The Little Boy Lost' is from Songs of Innocence, Blake's self-published 1789 collection, and is followed by 'The Little Boy Found' (though not in this reading). It's about a boy following his father, and if you want to read along to big Sean here are the lines.

The Little Boy Lost

Father, father, where are you going
O do not walk so fast.
Speak father, speak to your little boy
Or else I shall be lost,

The night was dark no father was there
The child was wet with dew.
The mire was deep, & the child did weep
And away the vapour flew.

The final lines are haunting, and lend this an air of menace quite unusual within the Songs of Innocence. The question of what exactly the vapour is hangs there: simply the boy's breath, or the atmosphere, or some other ghostly presence. 'The Little Boy Found', for my money, slightly ruins this effect by bringing in god (as Blake is wont to do, even though his idea of god is pretty wacky).

Anyway: good job Asobo Studio and Focus Interactive. A Plague Tale: Innocence is out now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, and looks jolly good indeed.

And just to say: if any games want to promote themselves by getting Christian Bale to read some Wordsworth, I'd be on that like a dog with a bone. You could say my heart would leap up to behold it.