Assassin’s Creed Mirage: Review
This game was reviewed on PC.
Reviewed by: Nikola Hristov
For the past 6 years Ubisoft drastically changed the formula of AC games by turning the genre from action/stealth to RPG. This changes core aspects of gameplay such as combat, stealth, progression and even side quests. Although the games are financially successful, Odyssey and Valhalla are both widely disliked by the fanbase. Origins was the only exception – because story actually mattered there, and because Egypt was an excellent setting. However, with two misses out of three, Ubisoft decided to listen to their original fans – the fanboys of the franchise, and their outcries against the RPG mechanics. Thus, the idea of Mirage was born – a game which takes Assassin's Creed back to its roots.
Originally a DLC for Valhalla, Ubisoft rightfully decided to upgrade the project to a standalone game. Valhalla has way too many DLCs anyways, right? This game was supposed to be a bit cheaper, a lot shorter, and a lot more focused on the original stealth gameplay of the Altair and Ezio games. Does it succeed in doing that? Well, to a degree. Although Mirage does its best to encapsulate the original feeling of Assassin's Creed and it does in terms of gameplay, there are still many things missing and things to be desired.
Let's begin with the story. As per usual, I will not spoil anything, but will instead go over my experience as a whole. Clocking in at a much lower 20-hour playtime, this is a step in the right direction. No one will miss the 80-hour story that forces side-quests on the player, which was featured in Valhalla. However, it's far from perfect. Basim never really grown on my as a character. You don't really see him turn into his cunning self that we see at the end of Valhalla, instead he's a very generic and acceptable protagonist. Kinda like Arno from Unity, but at least Arno had other things going for him. Roshan and the other side characters, although voiced perfectly, also didn't really shine. For most of the story you'll just be doing the same go here kill this, go there kill that cycle, similarly to AC 1. However, that's not a good thing, because AC1 was released 16 years ago. I expected more character development and honestly, outside of the last 3-4 hours of the game, I didn't really get invested whatsoever.
On a more positive note, the city of Baghdad is beautiful. Ubisoft always manage to recreate ancient landscapes and give them the proper feeling that coincides with them. In the case of Baghdad, you feel like you're in an Arabian marketplace in the center of the city, while outside of it you feel the vast desert and gorgeous Oases. The developers captured that well. The map is also designed with the parkour system in mind, which reminded me of the old Altair and Ezio games. The city does feel a bit empty from time to time because most NPC are not interactable, but that's to be expected from a smaller, shorter game than this.
Now the elephant in the room – the gameplay. Specifically the most important gameplay aspects for an AC game: Parkour, Stealth and Combat. The traversal of the game is…well, ok. It still doesn't top AC Unity, I have no idea when Ubisoft plans to improve upon that specific system. Instead it's the parkour of the RPG games with small improvements and a map that's more based around it, unlike Valhalla with its massive fields and open spaces. Therefore the parkour is good, but nothing amazing, it should've been better. Stealth is pretty nice – especially when you upgrade all of your gadgets. You will often find that combat should be avoided, and you have a lot of weapons at your disposal to act from the shadows. Outside of the fact that the hidden blade actually kills enemies now (thank god, stupid levels), you also have the red smoke bombs and throwing knives, which are going to be your main and most straightforward tools to take enemies down. You also have that stupid teleporting mechanic which I never used, so I won't even talk about it. Overall, stealth is ok. Combat on the other hand is atrocious. It's very cinematic, but In doing so, most of the time you're just looking at Basim killing enemies, or, because of how difficult it is, Basim dying to enemies. The parry timings versus several opponents are trash. In the early game, combat should be avoided as 1v3s and more are very hard on the player. Even when you get upgraded Swords/Shamshirs and Daggers, engaging in combat isn't really fun. Which is a shame. At least the animations are cool.
In terms of performance, outside of a few buggy jumps here and there, the game is fine. It has bugs, sure, but nothing that the devs cannot easily patch out. The graphics are, as per usual with Ubisoft titles, very pleasant to look at, and because of the smaller map you don't need the latest RTX 4080 and up to run the game smoothly. Even the audio quality, which was terrible in the RPG trilogy, has been improved upon, though it still need some work done.
With that being said – Assassin's Creed Mirage is both the game I was waiting for, but also the game I wasn't. Think of the old days where you got and AC game which was the same as the other AC games, but a bit worse - that's Mirage. This is similar to Rogue, similar to AC 3, similar to Syndicate. It's not in the conversation with the top dogs such as AC 2 and Brotherhood, but it's a serviceable title and a definitive upgrade over the RPG trilogy. I do wish the story and combat were a bit better, but the satisfying parkour and stealth gameplay managed to take me back to the old days of the Creed – which is what this project was trying to achieve in the first place.
Reviewed by: Nikola Hristov