It’s currently the end of April and I’ve yet to go back and complete Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Let me give you a little back story. I don’t finish a lot of games but with Assassin’s Creed, I almost had a perfect record. After dealing with Unity's launch issues, I never went back to see if they had been fixed. Six months after that horrid launch, a new entry into the franchise is upon us.
This is not the Assassin’s Creed you have come to expect over the years. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China is a 2D side scrolling action game that is similar to Mark of the Ninja. Even with this shift in perspective, this is still a very familiar Assassin’s Creed adventure. You play as Shao Jun, introduced previously as a student of Ezio in the film Assassin's Creed: Embers. Unfortunately, her story is about as paper thin as they come and all you need to know is that she desires revenge against the Templars. You and me both, sister.
The game itself takes the very familiar Assassin’s Creed formula and mixes it into a more old-school 2D side-scrolling stealth action experience. You go through the levels hiding in closets and haystacks, climbing ladders, and taking out guards. Unlike previous franchise entries, this game puts a heavy emphasis on stealth like no other. Each level is broken into small 30 second chunks that grade on how well you’ve handled its challenges. Get by without any detection increases the end level score while engaging enemies will bring it down. High scores yield additional upgrade points that can be used to learn new abilities and skills. Such rewards are a nice way of making the score system matter, which was a central criticism in the mainline Creed games. My only gripe is that there is just too much scoring and I felt like the game was constantly reminding me about my sloppy, un-stealthy play.
Because stealth is far and away the biggest component of the game I should take some time to explain. AC Chronicles: China's enemies use a familiar line of sight cone that is displayed on screen. Avoiding detection is all a matter of navigating around these cones, a task that gets harder as new challenges improve their line of sight. Thankfully, each level offers plenty of opportunities to stay hidden. After the first half hour or so, you'll know all the tricks of the trade to get you through the five hour campaign.
You will be forced into combat on the rare chance you get caught by guards. Unlike mainline Assassin’s Creed heroes and heroines, Shao Jun can sustain very limited damage, thus emphasizing the game's stealth gameplay. Stealth is highly encouraged if only to avoid the very worst of Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China - the combat. Simply put, the controls are downright clumsy. And despite being an Assassin, Shao Jun has very limited capabilities with a sword and cannot handle more than one enemy at a time.
The biggest problem that plagues Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China is a sense of monotony. Once you get past its gorgeous visual style, the rest of the game is quite. There’s no momentum in the game and Shao Jun nevers feels like she is in any sort of danger. It is also difficult to car about her plight, one shared by so many characters in this franchise. What is left is a run-of-the-mill 2D sidescroller grafted to a superficial Assassin’s Creed theme. More than anything Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China makes me less interested in the rest of the new series. Give me a proper Assassin’s Creed game set in China instead.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.