Ubisoft’s ‘Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India’ tends to revive that gaming experience to a fair extent. For those who are well acquainted with the traditional open world Assassins Creed games, this 2.5D side-scroller game will feel much different. The open world, sandbox style gameplay is absent. Players will get typically one good way to complete the missions. Without a doubt, you will face the death screen more often than not.   It has been quite a few years since I last played Jordan Mechner’s Prince of Persia 2D games, especially ‘Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame’.
What I feel is great about this game is the choice of the game setting. The rich historical culture and heritage has always been the trademark of Ubisoft’s environment setting for all Assassin Creed games. The game is set in 1841 India in the Sikh city of Amritsar. It follows the journey of the Indian assassin, Arbaaz Mir, and his efforts to recover a precious artifact that belong to the Brotherhood. At that time, the Sikh empire was at war with the East India Company. While you get to scroll through the hard times, you may discover some of the magnificent palaces and pristine landscapes of ancient Punjab. The sceneries appear as well-decorated and painted art, full of semi 3D hiding and stealth opportunities for Arbaaz. In spite of this beautiful set up, I feel the game failed to utilize the full potential of this artistic Indian setting.
I felt the game was more stealth oriented with extra focus on level design. Developers Climax Studios did a good job in making the full use of the two and a half dimensions of the side-scroller gameplay. You can run sideways, climb up or descend as well as walk across lateral dimension structures using a beam or grapple hook. The game has a design similar to Mario, Donkey Kong, or the conventional 2D assassin creed games on Android phones. Here, you will need to perform timely escapes, get pass through obstacles while dodging the perils along the way. A step wrong, and you are dead (which is quite annoying). Apart from this, the game beautifully mimics the Sikh guards of Amritsar and they do really speak Punjabi. The guards have ranks such as master, elite which adds to the difficulty. Players may also need to survive through the destructive palaces, towers and tombs.
The orthodox gameplay features from Assassin Creed games has been retained. Every level starts with the popular ‘Leap of Faith’ that synchronises the map. A refined 2.5D version of Eaglevision has been incorporated in the game. Players can look for objects of interests, hidden enemies and their scouting paths using Eaglevision. Hiding places includes bushes, haystacks, behind pillars and palace doors. Apart from the popular assassination styles- double, air, ledge, hook and bush; players can also perform silent takedowns and loots. Lockpicking doors, looting chests, stealing items of interests- ammo, bombs etc are also present. In this game, Arbaaz can perform the Prince of Persia style wall mount, ledge climb, long jumps and rolls. Players can blend into situations using disguises, utilize the progressive day/night cycle or reduce the enemies’ line of sight by disabling lights or obstructions. There is an additional helix bar below the health bar that helps Arbaaz ease his way through the missions.
“Three things to do with the Helix Bar”
- Helix Dash- zip across the hiding spots unseen.
- Helix Blade- dispose of your enemies with a single stroke and leave no trace behind.
- Helix Blend- remain unseen with this powerful blend till the helix bar lasts.
One of the most interesting aspect of the game is the brilliant interior, exterior and platform based level design. One can not only run across the lush green exterior landscapes but can also explore the interior decorative structures and towers. This features a stunning 2.5D gameplay experience. Coming to the combat system, I felt it is a bit disappointing. Built on the Unreal Engine 3, I expected much better and revamped combat mechanics. There is only one sword to fight with, and that too it becomes difficult to get engaged in a combat with multiple enemies (an engaging combat is something what we liked in every Assassin’s Creed game). Enemies usually carry the Lee Enfield rifles and antique pistols whose one shot could easily kill the assassin. These things further encourages the players to rather adopt the stealth approach. Apart from the Lackluster combat system, there are provisions to use additional items.
“The Four assists”
- Whistle- Attract your enemies to the whistle sound to perform a quick escape or an assassination.
- Noise Bombs- Works on the similar concept of whistle, you can distract your enemies to move away from their current positions.
- Smoke Bombs- Smoke out multiple enemies at once to get past them unseen.
- Chakrams- Can be used to switch off lights or trigger bells to distract enemies, or can also be used to perform headshots, or interact with certain objects.
The game features an artistic and brush painting kind of graphics. There is no realistic in-game cinematics, rather painted screens to depict situations with added voice play. The in-game audio is more of an Indian classical mix with traditional Assassin’s Creed music. Seconds of ‘Ezio Family’ mixed with the essence of Indian Tabla, Flute and Veena offers a soothing sensation to the ears. A relatively shorter gameplay as compared to other Assassin’s Creed games, this AC spin-off does not include additional multiplayer mode or DLCs. For those of you who have already played ‘Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China’, this game may not appear to be much different. However, we expect more adventures and gameplay features from the next game in the Chronicles trilogy set in ‘Russia’, releasing February 9th, 2016.
The game incorporates an interesting and dynamic 19th century Indian setting but the gameplay lacks the full implementation of it. The tougher level design makes the game mundane till the point you get frustrated. But, after all the 3D sandbox games which we get to play nowadays, this 2.5D side-scroller game is a bit refreshing. The game revolves around the story of the assassin, Arbaaz Mir, his responsibilities for the brotherhood and his love. It’s a short and fascinating story. If you have loved Jordan Mechner style 2D games, want more of Arbaaz Mir or an ardent fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, this game is for you. The game is available at a cheap price on steam.
PC, Xbox One, PS4
Platform, Action-adventure, Stealth
12th January 2016
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