Sunday 15 December 2019

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles India review: A second stab at stealth

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India (XOne/PS4): rating: 7/10 Age: 16+

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles India: Gorgeous backgrounds
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles India: Gorgeous backgrounds
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

THE Assassin's Creed franchise owes a sizeable debt to the original Prince of Persia 2D platformer. Jordan Mechner’s 1989 original side-scroller set a high bar at the time for intricate art, its pixellated scenery deeply evocative of its Middle Eastern inspiration.

The AC Chronicles spinoff pays further homage with its colourful brand of stealth more of a spiritual successor to Prince of Persia than a scion of its parent franchise.

This second in the trilogy again showcases Ubisoft's gift for gorgeous visuals, in this instance the striking landscapes of India in the 19th century. Even more so than its predecessor set in China, the loving animation in the foreground almost plays second fiddle to the painterly strokes of the backgrounds and incidental characters and buildings in between.

The retro 2.5D style inevitably limits the action to a simplistic blend of hide'n'seek coupled with light combat. Trial and error highlights how Chronicles is more of a puzzle to be unpicked than a dynamic action game. That in itself is no great problem: there’s a pleasure to be had in patiently mapping the patrol routes of guards before sneaking carefully from cover to cover and dodging their vision cones.

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles India: Evocative of the 18th century
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles India: Evocative of the 18th century

If you do prefer to cut a swathe with a blade through the massed ranks of armed soldiers, violence is an option. But the combat feels unconvincing and, more importantly, you lose bonus points which go towards unlocking better abilities.

Overall, though, the trouble is that India doesn't play much differently from its predecessor (and presumably the imminent instalment in Russia).

It makes me wonder whether Ubi is sweating the spinoffs unnecessarily in the absence of a full AC release later this year. Chronicles may have been better as one condensed highlights reel rather than an elongated trilogy.

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