The new year has barely begun, and the newest Assassinâs Creed game has already come out. Granted, itâs not part of the main series, but it still seems like Ubisoft canât help but churn out these games at a breakneck pace, can they?
Staying in the shadows is the best way to deal with your enemies.
Assassinâs Creed Chronicles: India is the second entry in the Chronicles series. The game takes place in the Indian city of Amritsar in the year 1841 during the war between the East India Company and the Sikh Empire. You play as assassin Arbaaz Mir, who must recover the legendary Koh-i-Noor diamond from the Templars. Youâll also have to rescue a couple of allies along the way.
Assassinâs Creed Chronicles: India is a 2.5 platformer adventure game, much like itâs predecessor, Assassinâs Creed Chronicles: China. You climb around on walls and ledges in order to reach your next objective, while taking out any foes that stand in your way. You navigate Arbaaz on a 2D axis, but can also navigate between a few different planes at certain points, so youâre not limited to just one line of progression.
Navigating through the ruins is one of the better parts of the game.
Thereâs a heavy emphasis on stealth, and you can take out enemy guards that stand in your way by assassinating them, rendering them unconscious, or avoiding them all together. Whichever way you do it, thereâs an immense amount of satisfaction from going through levels undetected. You can use a noise bomb to distract guards and sneak past them. Or maybe youâd rather use a smoke bomb to temporarily blind your enemies, assassinate them, and quickly slip the bodies into a trunk before anyone notices. The game is at its best when you have the freedom to decide what to do with your enemies, which is a shame since some scenarios will restrict you in what you can do. You can still kill enemies in a number of ways in most of these restrictive scenarios, but thereâs usually only one way to do it without getting caught. Still, thereâs enough freedom to do what you want to make the more limited scenarios less unappealing.
Another part of Assassinâs Creed Chronicles: India I really liked were the intense moments where I had to use my characterâs parkour skills to quickly get out of a collapsing tower or crumbling ruins. Thereâs a nice flow to Arbaazâs acrobatics, and it helps enhance some of the best moments in the game.
Challenge mode gives the game a decent amount of replayability.
At the end of each level, youâll be scored on how successful you were in remaining unseen. Youâre judged on whether you killed, knocked out, or avoided enemies, and given a gold, silver, or bronze rating depending on many times you were seen by guards. There are also a number of levels in which you are only scored on how fast you complete the level. In either case, if you get a high enough score, you unlock upgrades for Arbaaz such as higher maximum health or the ability to carry more certain items.
Though stealth is key for an assassin to have the upper hand in combat, there will be times where you may need to fight enemies directly, and itâs here where the gameplay falters. Directly fighting enemies feels clumsy and awkward. Youâre given all these moves where you can block, roll over enemies, and dodge incoming projectiles. However, you canât use a number of these moves or even basic attacks against some of the stronger enemies. Plus, youâll usually end up having several enemies come at you at once, making it impossible for you to fight back or even escape.
Now to be fair, there is a special power you can activate called Helix Strike Mode that can get you out of a tight jam. You become powerful enough to take down just about any foe in one hit, and can dash great distances to close the gap on them. But you need to have enough Helix Boosts in order to activate the mode, plus it only lasts a short amount of time. Itâs not enough to make the combat in this game bearable.
In addition to the main story mode, thereâs also a Challenge mode where you can take on a variety of missions that range from killing all enemies to gathering all the collectables as fast as you can. Itâs pretty standard fare, but itâs fun (particularly the collecting missions) and it adds some replayability to the game.
One thing that stands out about this game is the art style and aesthetics. The vibrant and painterly colors, coupled with henna patterns during the cutscenes are very appealing to the eye. Itâs a nice change of pace for the series, and you may just want to look at this game more than play it.
The gameâs art style is so good it even makes torture look nice.
Itâs a shame that the story and dialogue arenât as compelling as the gameâs visuals, because the setting and time period couldâve made for an interesting story. Sadly, weâre given a pretty bland plot. The story in itself isnât all that original; itâs mainly about obtaining artifacts from the Templars. Still, it could work.
Sadly, this not the case, as it falls flat due to the bland characters, poor voice acting, cheesy dialogue, and dumb moments in the plot. I was consistently unimpressed with the story throughout my initial five-and-a-half hour playthrough, and even found myself rolling my eyes at some parts. For example, [spoiler warning] thereâs a point late in the game where Arbaaz comes face to face with one of the gameâs main antagonists. He and his men have Arbaaz surrounded, armed to teeth, and are ready to destroy him. However, in a bafflingly clichÃ©d and dumb move, the antagonist offers to let Arbaaz live if he can beat him in a fight one on one. Really? Arbaaz has killed legions of your men and disrupted your organizationâs operations. Do you really think itâs wise to give him a fighting chance? I couldnât believe what I was seeing.
Now despite its frustrating combat controls and lackluster story, Assassinâs Creed Chronicles: India is by no means a bad game. The moments where I was taking out my foes in the shadows, or navigating my way through ancient ruins were pretty fun. The game has a pretty good sense of what it wants to be, and if it stuck to the elements that made it fun, I think it would be better for it. Sadly, there are too many frustrations to keep this game from greatness. Maybe with the third installment, which is slated to come out next month, Ubisoft and Climax will be able to unlock the Chronicles seriesâ true potential.