Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise has come a long way in 16 years, as the video games evolved from stealth-based action adventures to the more RPG-based fare as seen in 2020’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Evolution is a crucial part of any creative process, and change is necessary, but it’s still essential to stay true to what something is at its core, which is exactly what Assassin’s Creed Mirage does. This isn’t a soft reboot, though, as it slides right into canon, centring on Basim Ibn Ishaq, a character introduced in Valhalla.
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Assassin’s Creed Mirage takes place in 9th-century Baghdad, during the anarchy of Samarra era, as Basim goes from a young street-smart thief to a member of the Assassin Brotherhood. The story and game have been designed in a way that doesn’t require an in-depth understanding of the franchise or previous storylines, so it’s possible for anyone to treat this as the perfect jumping-on point. Like with any AC tale, there are unexpected twists and turns that make for an engrossing narrative while adding yet another important chapter in the franchise’s legacy.
Stealthing through Baghdad in Assassin’s Creed Mirage
As a busy and highly populated city, the historical and rich culture of Baghdad becomes a character in this game. From the ports to the trade merchants and musicians in the street, the city immerses the player in all its personality and opportunity. Since Basim spends the bulk of his time moving throughout Baghdad, it’s important for players to become acclimatised with how navigating the city can influence missions and side quests. From utilising favor tokens as a means of getting out of tricky situations to pickpocketing and removing wanted posters from the wall, there are consequences to actions that force players to think more strategically of how they will tackle the game. The city is highly reactive, so if a player draws too much attention to themselves, they will need to lay low or make the heat go away.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage gets back to the stealth gameplay from before with the mandatory parkour. One of the biggest assets in the game is the use of Enkidu, the eagle, as Basim’s winged friend can be utilised to scout areas for the hero before he tackles a mission. From there, it’s up to the player to decide how to take on the guards and other foes. Of course, it makes sense to go in as silently as possible and assassinate enemies before anyone notices; however, there is the possibility of using environmental attacks or diversions for added advantage. Whistling to guards, setting traps, or using musicians to divert attention prove to be useful techniques to divide and conquer adversaries.
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Mastering the fighting and finer details
If Basim has no other choice but to stand and fight, the combat mechanics prove to be realistic and fulfilling to master. Parrying and dodging are paramount to survival here, as Basim needs to wait for openings and target unarmoured areas of his enemies. At the same time, it is rather silly to jump a group of guards and expect to come away unscathed, so plan the attack or hightail it if the numbers are too overwhelming. Basim also possesses throwing knives that can be upgraded through the game. These are extremely useful, especially after a player unlocks the ability to lace the blades with poison or even decomposition qualities.
The care and effort that has gone into nailing the finer details of 9th-century Baghdad cannot be understated here. The developers brought in historians and scholars for assistance, and it shows in the execution. The landscape of the Iraqi capital draws the player into the game, as it encourages exploration and curiosity to find out more about this sprawling city’s secrets and people. Brendan Angelides’ absorbing score also pulls the player right into this time period, while the ability to play with a fully Arabic voiceover only adds to the overall authenticity of the adventure. It’s a pity the same attention didn’t go into the designs of some characters, as some of them look like they were designed for the Xbox 360.
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Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, Assassin’s Creed Mirage gets back to basics. It delivers the sort of stealth-based adventure that brought fans to the dance in the first place. While there’s likely to be some dissent from gamers who believe the franchise has gone backwards in terms of the evolution of the series, the game is quintessential Assassin’s Creed – and that’s exactly what it should be.
Assassin's Creed Mirage
- Return of stealth-based gameplay
- An immersive and reactive experience
- Environmental attacks and diversions
- Character designs could use some work
Sound and Music