‘Assassin’s Creed Mirage’ is like a blast from the past, a time machine that takes us back to the start of the franchise while injecting a breath of fresh air. This action-adventure game, a departure from the RPG elements in recent entries, transports us to the Middle East, bringing back the essence of the original ‘Assassin’s Creed’ series. However, as we journey through Basim’s past, it becomes apparent that Mirage walks a fine line between homage and dated gameplay.
A Trip to the Middle East
One of the most significant departures in ‘Assassin’s Creed Mirage’ is the return to the Middle East, specifically Baghdad. This vibrant city is divided into several districts, each with its unique flavour. From the cultural hub of Abbasiyah to the bustling market district of Karkh and the industrial heart of Harbiyah, the city offers a diverse and engaging environment. Beyond its walls lies the Wilderness, a desert expanse dotted with historical sites and the occasional bandit camp. The rooftops of Baghdad are where you’ll spend most of your time, and the city feels alive, bustling with crowds and NPCs.
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Tokens and Notoriety: Getting Sneaky
In ‘Mirage,’ players can gather tokens, Power, Merchant, and Scholar, by various means like pickpocketing, completing contracts, and more. These tokens are not just collectables; they play a crucial role in interacting with the world. Power Tokens can summon mercenaries to create distractions, while Merchant Tokens let you bribe or barter with traders. Scholar Tokens allow you to blend seamlessly with the crowd, a valuable tool in a city that’s not too fond of Basim. The notoriety system keeps players on their toes, with guard reactions escalating as you gain notoriety. This forces you to adopt a stealthy approach, encouraging players to immerse themselves in the living world around them.
Stealth: The Name of the Game
‘Assassin’s Creed Mirage’ doesn’t hold back when it comes to promoting stealth gameplay. The loading screen even advises you to avoid combat with more than four enemies, emphasizing the importance of staying hidden. While open combat is an option, it’s not the most efficient one. Timing and parrying are key, and enemies are not shy about attacking simultaneously, making it challenging to engage in head-on combat. The game equips you with an array of tools, including stealth bombs, throwing knives and noisemakers, making it clear that stealth is the preferred playstyle.
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Upgrades and Skill Trees
‘Mirage’ introduces RPG-like upgrade systems to enhance your gameplay. You can upgrade your tools, improving their functionality, carrying capacity, and damage output. Three skill trees, Phantom, Trickster, and Predator offer a variety of improvements, catering to different playstyles. Phantom focuses on the new Assassin’s Focus ability, which allows for instant eliminations after accumulating charges from stealth kills. Trickster offers tools and general enhancements, while Predator enhances your eagle companion, Enkidu, and provides additional stealth options.
Freedom in Assassinations
‘Assassin’s Creed Mirage’ shines in its approach to assassination missions. You’re often presented with multiple avenues to complete your objectives. Whether it’s bribing merchants or finding hidden entry points, the game encourages creativity in achieving your goals. This freedom is where Mirage’s sandbox truly stands out.
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A Trip Down Memory Lane with Some Bumps
While ‘Assassin’s Creed Mirage’ excels in many aspects, it does have its shortcomings. The parkour, while functional, lacks some of the finesse seen in later games of the series. Social stealth, like assassinating from crowds, is serviceable but not always the best option. Elements like tailing missions, eavesdropping, and chases are present but rarely pose a challenge. This nostalgic approach sometimes makes ‘Mirage’ feel like a game from the late 2000s.
A Unique Storytelling Approach
The game’s narrative structure is a unique approach. It provides players with the freedom to explore and complete core missions at their own pace. However, the bulk of the story unfolds in the final two missions. It’s a structure that may appeal to some, offering gameplay freedom in a sandbox setting. However, it may not suit those looking for a more intense, linear narrative.
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Order of the Ancients and Hidden Ones
‘Assassin’s Creed Mirage’ brings back the focus on the Hidden Ones and the Brotherhood, which will be a delight to fans of the earlier games in the series. However, the Order of the Ancients, a central antagonist group, feels somewhat underdeveloped, leaving a gap in the storytelling.
Stability and Bugs
One area that needs attention is the game’s stability. During our playtime, we encountered crashes, stutters, physics issues and general bugs. Some collectables seemed to be bugged, making them impossible to find or access. While these issues aren’t game-breaking, they are noticeable and may require patches to address.
Image Courtesy: IGN
If you’re willing to embrace the game’s dated elements and appreciate its homage to the classic Assassin’s Creed games, you’ll have a fantastic time exploring the vibrant city of Baghdad and uncovering the secrets of Basim’s past.