Saturday 18 November 2017

Assassin's Creed Chronicles India review

assassins creed chronicles
assassins creed chronicles

Paul Mallon

Assassin's Creed Chronicles India is a new spin off adventure from Ubisoft's main series with a new style and a new main character

The Assassin’s Creed spin off Chronicles goes to India for another 2.5d adventure.

It’s been almost a year since the first game in this proposed trilogy, Chronicles: China, was released and now we’re getting two in as many months, with a Russian adventure to follow in February 2016.

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles India takes us back to 1841 and into the shoes of Arbaaz Mir. He’s an Assassin on the trail of a mysterious artefact which might be a piece of Eden that’s currently in the hands of the Templars. As usual.

The story here unfolds in painterly scenes between levels, and they’re pretty light on narrative, mostly serving as a way to get from one location to the next.

Which is fine, as the meat of the game is all within those spaces as you’re tasked to infiltrate, pilfer, murder, rescue and escape from a variety of different missions. The game works as a 2.5D platformer which gives it a unique style and also allows for gameplay which is considerably more concentrated than its 3D big brother.

Much more so than the regular Assassin’s Creed series, India is all about stealth. The idea is to get through each small section of a level without being seen and preferably without killing anyone. That kind of performance nets you the greatest number of points, and higher scores unlock new and useful abilities and boosts to stats like health and items.

You can play the game in a more action packed way, and the sword fighting element is robust enough to be both challenging and entertaining, but it clearly goes against the design of the game, including all your items which are non lethal in nature.

So you’ll spend a lot of time hanging from rafters and creating distractions, or prowling between the vision cones of various enemies and hoping the noise of your movements doesn’t get you found out. Even the lowliest enemies are tough to beat, especially as they tend to quickly converge in great numbers, with rifle shots and vicious slices.

The game unfolds then as something closer to a puzzler. You’ll have to use eagle vision to examine patrol routes and take into account different classes of enemies who are more aware and some who are immune to your assassination attacks.

It’s a very different kind of Assassin’s Creed game and I must admit it took me a while to adjust. I was so used to being able to fix a botched stealth attempt with some judicious swordplay that my early sessions felt quite frustrating, dying over and over again at the same section.

But once you get your head around the fundamentals and realise that it isn’t always about speed or skill but about patience and patterns it becomes much more enjoyable. That said there are certainly parts of the game where the difficulty spikes as there’s really just a single solution, forcing you to be pixel perfect on a run or face multiple reloads. The lack of freedom feels strange in a series so dedicated to the idea.

India mixes things up with speedrunning levels that reward you for timeliness rather than stealthiness and you can take part in challenge maps for some additional content. Otherwise it’s a straight shot though the campaign, though you can go back and play on higher difficulties for more rewards.

The presentation is pretty gorgeous, with an aesthetic that portrays a highly stylised take on colonial India. The battlements and rooftops of this city are etched in stark lines, with curling symbols embellishing the sky and swirls of blood accompanying each successful strike. Coupled with Mir’s smooth animation it’s a joy to behold, even if the assets repeat quite frequently.

There’s a touch of Ubisoft’s own revamp of Prince of Persia here, both in the art, the setting and even the music. And that’s certainly no bad thing. The cut scenes are also attractive with the only real let down being the unconvincing voice acting – Mir himself sounds unspeakably bored at times. And the story itself is never that engaging.

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles India is an entertaining extension of the main series, with a wide variety of tools supporting its singularly stealthy gameplay. The story and characters are forgettable and the difficulty might put some players off but there’s plenty to like for puzzle fans.

Available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC, priced from €9.99.


-Daniel Anderson

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