This Assassin’s Creed game crept out from the darkness and surprised me this week. I didn’t hear it coming, and it drew me into the shadows before I knew what was happening. Seriously, I had no idea there was another Assassin’s Creed game coming out so soon after Unity, let alone that it was the first of a planned trilogy.
You play as Shao Jun, the last remaining Assassin after a Templar massacre in China in 1526. After willingly allowing herself to be captured by the Templars with a Precursor artifact, she embarks on a quest for vengeance for her fallen Brothers.
The first thing that struck me about this game was that I wish it was a Vita title. I understand that Ubisoft thought it would make more money on Xbox One, PS4, and Steam, but its 2.5D platforming and playstyle would totally be at home on a portable console. That’s another important thing to note; while sharing wall climbing, assassinations and other staples of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, this game is presented much differently than it’s bigger budget Brethren. The game is a stealth action side scrolling platformer. Oh sure, you can fight if you want to, but with your low health bar, you won’t last very long. The game also rewards stealth by giving you more points if you ghost through a level without being spotted, and since those points give you valuable upgrades, it’s worth the effort to remain unseen. Combat is a bit chunky; I could only execute the roll over dodge 1 out of 5 times. These factors make stealth the preferred way to get through a level.
When stealth mechanics are handled poorly, games become frustrating and tedious. Assassin’s Creed China does a lot right to make stealth fun. Guards have clearly defined vision cones, so you KNOW if you’re going to be spotted. I hate games with stealth segments where you don’t know if you’re hidden or not. The game also provides a lot of hiding places like doorways and crawlspaces, as well as several ways to distract guards like whistles, firecrackers and noise darts.
A.C.C.C. is a fresh breath of air after the cumbersome Unity. No superfluous Abstergo/Animus plot (at least at first), no millions of waypoints on a map that leave you bewildered where to start. This game puts you right in the action as a badass, stealthy assassin. Sure, the tradeoff is fairly straightforward levels (although there are secrets) instead of a sprawling cityscape, but I for one, will gladly take the change of pace.
I just wish I could play it on my Vita.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles-China is available on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and STEAM for $9.99 You can watch the first level here: