Saturday, 16 January 2016

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India (Video Game Review)

If you wanted to truly sum up the Chronicles games in a single word, it would be “serviceable”. They’re ultimately entertaining if a little shallow; each intended to offer some slight variation in the often creatively stagnant and progressively less colourful Assassin’s Creed games, but still provide a cheap enjoyable experience. This was ultimately the case with the previous game set in China, and India is really more of the same.  

The narrative here really takes a back seat compared with the core series, and much more focus is placed upon the vibrant environments. While certainly not as vast, showy or buggy as the recent releases, this stealth platformer nevertheless has a distinct ancient atmosphere about it, and the art direction is as stunning as ever. Better yet, the translation to 2.5D has hardly harmed the game and it retains a kind of simplistic charm akin to the original Prince of Persia. A big chunk of this is thanks to the fact that the mechanics are very sound and offer some good tactical variety in admittedly linear levels. Smoothly designed environments encourage a fast paced but careful approach, with your choices being to distract guards, hide until they pass or go around them entirely via hookshot. 

Combat remains an option but, in a refreshing change of pace, it’s hardly a guaranteed win thanks to downgrading the instant-win counter-moves. Rather than just waiting until someone stabs at you before skewering them, you’re left with a very small health bar and limited number of tools to work with. As such, the days of merrily wading through armies Templars are gone, and you’re actually encouraged to keep an eye on patrol routes, cover your tracks and move silently. In other words, you need to actually be an assassin for once. 

The unfortunate thing is that, for all its simplicity, there’s not much in the way of replay value to be had here. While past core games from the series at least offered some fun when it came to exploring the vast open worlds, Chronicles: India ends and that’s about it. Even the score attack element offers little to be truly invested in, and the collectibles are forgettable at best. It also hardly helps that, despite the shift in style, many side activates just seem to be the same ones the main games have done to death. 

Overall, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is fun, simple and engaging but ultimately just has a very short lifespan. While certainly a refreshing take on the Assassin’s Creed series, it falls short of its full potential and can seem a little insubstantial as a result. Definitely give it a look, but don’t expect anything truly revolutionary. 

Verdict: 6 out of 10

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