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Assassin's Creed Mirage Review

Updated: Oct 6, 2023


There is no better phrase to describe Assassin's Creed Mirage than return to roots. Ubisoft has hit this point a lot since the announcement, but it is through playing that it becomes more evident how much the new chapter is this mix of reverence for the first games with a more than necessary recovery of their essence.

And this starts from a very simple premise: less is more. After a sequence of increasingly bigger and more bloated titles, the studio chose to remove the excesses and focus only on the pillars of the series , which made the saga of the assassins become one of its main brands to this day. Thus, we have a game that is not only significantly smaller, but much more objective and precise in what it wants.

It is a more than welcome return to a simplicity that has been lost over the years and that, in recent games, has given way to a megalomania that has begun to distort the series' character. For this reason, even though it doesn't revolutionize or reinvent anything, Mirage does a great job of rescuing the essence of what Assassin's Creed is , recreating a genuine experience of what the saga is — including its vices and virtues.

It may sound strange, but the main merit of Assassin's Creed Mirage is precisely the fact that it is a much smaller game than its recent predecessors. Not just in length — it can easily be completed in around 20 hours — but in the overall scope of the gameplay.

Even though the scenery of Baghdad is quite vast, it doesn't compare to the vastness of Ancient Greece or England that we saw in the last few games. It is a much more compact map and, therefore, becomes much more attractive to the player and allows the gameplay to return to what has always been fundamental within the franchise: parkour, stealth and combat.

Over the last few months, Ubisoft has repeated several times how it wanted the new chapter to highlight these elements that have always been fundamental, but which were diluted amid the attempt at grandeur of past releases. Thus, with a much more concise and focused experience, it is easier to explore and take advantage of these features.

Therefore, the choice of a 9th century Baghdad is more than right. By taking the game back to an essentially urban environment, Mirage returns to the series the excellent combination of an interesting historical period with a rich environment that invites exploration, matching what we have seen before with Jerusalem, Florence and Rome.

This smaller map explores very well the gameplay that Ubisoft wanted to rescue. By focusing on a densely populated city that is the heart of the Middle East at the time, the game returns to the idea that assassins — or Hidden Ones, as they are called at that time — operate more in the shadows, prioritizing stealth in missions. To this end, the local architecture favors this transversal exploration, using and abusing parkour both to approach a target and when escaping.

And this is where Mirage becomes a real Assassin's Creed , the kind we haven't seen in years. You can't help but get excited and have fun with the idea of ​​acting in the shadows and exploring all the different approaches to try to eliminate your target in the most discreet way possible. After years, the Hidden Blade becomes important again, however obvious it may seem.

Narratively, freedom is a central theme within the plot of Assassin's Creed — and Mirage translates this very well into the gameplay. Although the idea is to bring back elements such as stealth, the combination of this element with parkour itself and combat gives the game space for the player to experiment with different types of approaches and create their own solutions for each type of mission.

This is something very important, as it helps to minimize one of the main problems of the new game, which is the lack of variety in objectives. Repeating a problem that has been with the series for a few years now, we once again see a lack of creativity when it comes to creating challenges that explore the killers' abilities. The difference is that Mirage knows how to get around this issue very well so that it becomes less apparent.

Even though everything always boils down to killing someone, stealing an object in a prohibited area or following a target without being seen, both the fact that the game is smaller and the freedom itself help to get rid of the feeling that you are repeating the same task over and over again. and several times.

The design of the missions is very well thought out to explore the stealth-parkour-combat tripod, opening up a very wide range of possible paths. The game itself suggests some approaches, but you are also encouraged to create your own solutions, which makes things more interesting and fun, minimizing the feeling of repetition. Even though you're invading a palace for the tenth time, the game invites you to experience it in other ways.

It's just a shame that, in this trio, combat is the weakest pillar of all. To enhance stealth, the direct confrontation system against enemies was simplified to the point of becoming tiring. Practically all fights are resolved in the counterattack and, once you master your opponents' timing, every confrontation is resolved in seconds. And the lack of variety in enemies only highlights this lack of inspiration.

As said, the fact that it is a leaner game is the great merit of Assassin's Creed Mirage . Ubisoft's effort to remove the excesses that the franchise has adopted over the last few years is clear, and not just on the smaller map. The number of collectibles has been significantly reduced, as has the dynamics of the equipment itself. The number of weapons and armor has decreased and the focus is now more on improving them than finding a better piece.

Furthermore, some elements of the series' mythology were also discarded. For the first time in the saga, we have nothing about the present time, with the exception of a brief narration at the beginning of the game. And it doesn't do anything wrong, showing how much this type of thing was left in previous games.

The result of this is that Mirage ends up being entirely focused on its campaign, which ends up emptying part of the map that is no longer that big. The entire desert area — which is quite vast — lives up to its name and is a huge void with nothing to do or discover. It's just sand and nothing else.

In fact, the choice to bring in the killer who appears in Valhalla and show his origin is curious. Not just because no one was curious to know Basim's past, but because the script itself doesn't justify this choice. Once again, the plot twist is good, but it would work the same way with any character that was placed there and the attempt to connect with the Vikings game is more of a hindrance than a help.

It's a simpler game, but one that honors the legacy of the saga very well and brings back what helped the franchise become the phenomenon we've seen over the last 15 years. Without worrying about revolutionizing or reinventing anything, he delivers a basic that had been lost for a long time and that fans wanted back. And it does this in a very competent way, referring to the best the saga has to offer in terms of setting and gameplay.

Even though the plot doesn't shine, it serves both to explore the much talked about tripod that underpins the gameplay and to show how much Assassin's Creed still has room to tell new stories and approach other periods and locations. More than that, Mirage is proof that a game doesn't need to be grand and megalomaniac to be good. The basics still work.


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