Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India Review — Flat Leap of Faith
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles took the franchise for a brief stop in China, and while the result was pretty-looking, it was unfortunately not particularly thrilling. The spin-off series is back already, and this time the assassins are heading to India, circa 19th century.
If you played ACC: China, then you will feel instantly at home here, controls-wise. You move using the left analog stick, with the right stick relegated to controlling the camera in a 2-dimensional plane. The directional pad chooses a gadget, face buttons interact/attack, and the shoulder buttons use gadgets/sprint/crawl. Gadgets include noise-making darts, chakrams (throwing knives), and smoke grenades. You can use these to distract and temporarily incapacitate enemies to get the upper hand. If you find yourself out of gadgets, in true assassin fashion you can loot fallen (or slumbering) enemies, find what you need in chests, or just whistle. Like most Assassin’s Creed games, you’ll have to improvise sometimes.
All of this action takes place in a 2.5 world. You run left or right, and rather frequently traverse the world via different depths. Your goal is usually to make it to the end of a level, or take a particular enemy out. As you progress through a level, you’re graded in a three-tier system (Bronze, Silver, and Gold) based on your performance in different aspects of being an assassin. Getting through a level without ever being spotted by the enemy is worth just as many points as taking everyone out, if not more so. It will be a decent challenge to obtain maximum points on every level, and there are also New Game+ and New Game+ Hard modes to unlock if you’re looking for more to do.
New Lead, Same Problems
The story this time around sees you playing as the hotshot assassin recruit Arbaaz, who’s got some charm not unlike that of the late great Ezio. You are in a race against the Templars as usual, and must save your mentor, save your lover, and possibly save the world in the process. Honestly, it all feels really familiar, perhaps a little too much. Still, fans of the franchise will no doubt enjoy the dialog in between levels, and history buffs will also revel in the various artifacts and tidbits of information to be found in 1800’s India.
Platforming can be fluid, when it’s actually the main draw of any given level. There’s quite a few levels that are broken up by stealth areas involving terribly dumb AI. For starters, you can see exactly where an enemy is looking at all times, with a Metal Gear Solid-style cone of vision that shows you exactly how far an enemy can see. These cones completely disappear when two enemies are talking to each other, because as we all know, men suffer from tunnel vision whenever they’re looking at something (every single enemy has this affliction in ACC: India). This is a game mechanic that will bother some gamers, and not phase others. It all depends on how seriously you want to take the game’s stealth sequences. I usually ended up smoke-bombing a group of enemies, taking most of them out, then running back and seeing who’s left. Since the enemies are so dumb, even being spotted wasn’t necessarily cause for concern. You can usually find a hiding spot not far from wherever you are, and if the enemies don’t see you for ten seconds, they go back to doing their regular rounds. Once you memorize where enemies and traps are, the level is essentially yours.
Speaking of traps, expect to die several times by running into a trap or enemy that simply blended into the essentially flat background. Explosive traps and alarm bells are the worst, because they don’t move until it’s already too late. In a traditional three-dimensional game, you’d likely see the obvious wooden pillars tied together by some fat rope, but when that same contraption appears as a single pillar with no rope in your new perspective, it can be harder to notice unless you happened to see the rope as the trap moved from the side of your periphery to the center. Oh! There’s also tailing missions. You know the ones where you’re tasked with following a target. I don’t know about you, but I hate those in regular Assassin’s Creed games. Here, they’re unbearable because of the tight timeframes involved. One wrong turn or misinterpretation of where you wanted to go on behalf of the game, and you’ll have to redo the section.
Graphically, ACC: India appears more lively than ACC: China before it. Levels are surprisingly large and fairly detailed, as well. The game runs very well on the PlayStation 4, though other side-scrolling games look better. This may be because the Chronicles games are using the now-decidedly-dated Unreal Engine 3. It’s a shame because the environments are begging to shine just a little more.
If you’re a big fan of Assassin’s Creed, or enjoyed ACC: China, then you can pick this up without hesitation. It’s more of the same gameplay-wise, but completely different story and setting-wise. Platforming fans may also want to pick this up, because there are not too many new platformers coming out on a regular basis. However, casual fans need not apply, since the game has somewhat clunky controls, hilariously stupid enemy AI that presents little challenge, and those terrible tailing missions that players of regular Assassin’s Creed games hate so much.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.