Title: Assassin's Creed Mirage
Developer: Ubisoft Bordeaux
Release Date: October 5, 2023
Reviewed On: PS4
Genre: Action Adventure
It’s common for long-running series to tout their latest entry as a “return to form,” a phrase that’s often used when an old system is reintroduced. Assassin’s Creed, which began in 2007, has been evolving over the years. Some of these changes were made to keep up with industry trends, but it’s clear that the series has been striving to recapture the success of Assassin’s Creed II.
In 2020, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla came close to blending new systems with the old, but its vast scope could be overwhelming. However, players who persevered through the extensive adventure, including the DLC expansions, were rewarded with some of the series’ best moments. The free Shared History update introduced characters from outside Eivor’s region, setting the stage for Assassin’s Creed Mirage.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is an intriguing title. Despite its lower launch MSRP, it manages to deliver everything you’d expect from an Assassin’s Creed game, albeit on a more condensed scale. The majority of the experience unfolds in 9th-century Baghdad, where a young Basim takes on role of a thief, driven by a desire to bring about real change for the people. His ultimate goal is to join the Hidden Ones, a group committed to combating political injustice.
However, joining this group is no easy task, and Basim undertakes a dangerous mission to prove himself. During this mission, he encounters masked individuals engaged in nefarious activities and stumbles upon a relic that triggers a series of unfortunate events. Though he initially seeks revenge, Basim eventually suppresses these emotions and joins the Hidden Ones, training to perform the iconic leap of faith.
The narrative in Assassin’s Creed Mirage is one of the most immersive I’ve experienced in a long time. Following Basim through his early moments and uncovering the truth behind his actions made for an excellent gaming experience. The relatively small cast of characters allows for meaningful relationships to develop over the game’s 23-hour runtime. Basim, as the lead character, elevates the story, his tension and inquisitiveness adding depth. The storylines all come together in a satisfying conclusion.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with Basim’s quest in the introductory segment, the game world opens up. Missions and quests are neatly organized in the Investigation Menu, where you can select your next objective, some of which may require additional tasks. While the main dialog sets the mission’s foundation, deeper character profiles and attention during story scenes provide additional context. However, this extra information isn’t essential to enjoy the game; it’s there for those who seek more depth.
The game doesn’t rely on experience points, but story missions gradually provide new skills, tools, and improved abilities. Completing missions raises your Assassin Rank, earning skill points for combat, tool usage, and your bird companion, Enkidu. Enthusiastic completionists can focus on Enkidu upgrades for uncovering every chest and secret entrance, though these upgrades don’t significantly impact the overall experience. Skill upgrades, on the other hand, streamline actions rather than making you a stronger fighter or player, offering more convenience than power.
Equipment upgrades prove more substantial. Weapons and armor can be enhanced using materials found in the environment, greatly benefiting combat, especially with rare gear. The Prince of Persia equipment, for example, provided life-saving abilities in fights. However, surviving encounters mostly rely on skill.
Combat in Assassin’s Creed Mirage is straightforward, with attacks assigned to the R1 button, along with combo extensions using other inputs. The combat system is simple, emphasizing Basim’s inexperience with fighting and the importance of stealth in most missions.
Throughout the story campaign, you may encounter roadblocks that require Favor Tokens to progress. These tokens are obtained by completing missions within the Assassins Bureau, typically involving infiltration and additional objectives for extra rewards. These side missions blend seamlessly with the main story missions, as they are necessary to advance certain narrative elements. The objectives are engaging and occasionally fun. Favor Tokens can also be used for bribery or to reduce shop prices.
Unlike Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which allowed extensive character customization and weapon choices, Assassin’s Creed Mirage takes a more streamlined approach. The game prioritizes its story-driven experience, eliminating some of the simulation aspects found in previous entries. This levels the playing field, allowing players to fully immerse themselves in the game and story. I found this approach enjoyable, and the end-game content was just as engaging as the beginning.
Given the shorter runtime, it’s worth noting that there are New Game Plus options after completing the game. The vast open world offers numerous secrets to uncover, making a post-credits return enticing. While I typically don’t use bird helpers in Assassin’s Creed games, Enkidu proved invaluable during most missions, scouting out essential information before infiltration.
In terms of glitches, I was pleasantly surprised that the usual Ubisoft issues were absent. I encountered no graphical glitches aside from occasional distant pop-ins when traversing the desert. Basim’s movements felt agile, and each environment seemed designed to allow him to move quickly. If I had one minor complaint, it would be that the on-screen compass doesn’t clearly indicate whether the objective is above or below you, requiring some guesswork. Nevertheless, I found my way with minimal moments of disorientation.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage encourages players to experience its story to the end, and it’s a journey you’ll be glad you embarked upon. The game features nostalgic set pieces reminiscent of early series entries but also introduces genuinely unique experiences that may shape future entries. While it can be enjoyed as a standalone Assassin’s Creed adventure, longtime fans will appreciate the connections to previous plot points and the thrilling gameplay moments.
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