Be quiet, I’m hiding.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is the second entry in the 2.5D platforming spin-off series, with the first game, China, having been released last year, and the third title in this planned trilogy, Russia, set to arrive in the near future. Rumours suggest that the main Assassin’s Creed series will be taking a much needed break this year, so fans of the Assassin’s Creed world may well have to embrace this stealthy platforming to get their fix.
As with Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China, the narrative takes a back seat to the actual gameplay. Set in 19th Century India, the player takes on the role of assassin Arbaaz Mir as he sets out to get his hands on a diamond known as Koh-i-Noor. Of course, Templars are involved and there is a love story thrown in for good measure. But otherwise that is really all that’s going on. Arbaaz is certainly an interesting hero for the game, especially when compared to some previous Assassin’s Creed playable characters, but never gets the time to develop into anything more than a tool to move stealthily from left to right across the screen.
On the other hand, the Indian setting really shines. Beautiful backdrops flood the senses with bright colours, while interesting traditional architecture provides the playground for the assassin. The developers have made good use of lighting to bring this vibrant setting to life, and have populated it with a broad variety of both enemies and simple bystanders, with even the occasional elephant barreling their way through the scenery. In all, it’s a nice game to look at.
The setting also provides Arbaaz with the perfect opportunity to make use of his parkour skills in running, jumping and climbing across the various buildings in an impressive way. The platforming mechanics work well, although precision can quite often be an issue as the game often requires some very pinpoint actions. However, every now and again a section will present itself that the player can zip through with incredible speed and feel very good about. And leaping from a high level into a haystack is always impressive.
The sections where players can speed through and feel like a real master assassin work really well, but the majority of the game is much more slow and considered. ACC: India puts the emphasis on stealth, so players should expect to spend a large amount of time hiding in doorways or shadows and waiting for guards to pass them by. Guards have vision cones and if they happen to spot the assassin, things get a lot more complicated, and less rewarding as the emphasis on stealth also brings points that can be used for upgrading in a simple way. So players will be moving from hiding spot to hiding spot, either waiting for guards to move or performing stealth kills and hiding the bodies.
Arbaaz has a few tools to help with the stealth side of the game, and it is often working out how to use these tools that spells the difference between success and failure. A simple whistle can be used to attract a guard, while a noise bomb can provide a distraction. Chakrams can also be used to distract, or be used to interact with items in the environment, while the smoke bomb gives Arbaaz the chance to pass by unnoticed. The tools are enjoyable to use and give the player choices when it comes to how to approach the level.
While stealth is emphasized, sometimes combat cannot be avoided. The combat in ACC: India feels very smooth and fluid, and is great fun. With a light and heavy attack, along with counter attacks, the combat flows nicely and players will feel powerful as they pull off impressive combat moves. However, due to the game penalizing players for being seen or starting a fight, the enjoyable combat feels overlooked and under used, and players who lack the patience for stealth and would like to run through the levels killing everything they see face on, will really struggle.
The levels themselves are mostly well thought out, but the often forced stealth slows much of the game down, and increases the feeling of repetition in the gameplay. It is great to look at and enjoyable to play, but lacks in variety and speed.
If you already played China and enjoyed it, or are a hardcore Assassin’s Creed fan, then Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India will be an essential purchase. However, those looking for something different, or something emphasizing speed or combat will be better served looking elsewhere. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is a solid game, but lacks in variety.