It’s no secret that the Assassin’s Creed franchise has been getting stale. Game after game, year after year… the formula just got boring. And yet, it still sells well because of its massive fanbase. It was only a matter of time before we saw more spin-off type games in the franchise and after the Vita port failed somewhat, a platformer ala Prince of Persia was always going to be next.
The Assassin’s Creed Chronicles games are exactly that. China released last year to mixed response. It was that old school, classic Prince of Persia type game with puzzles, platforming and a bit of combat mixed in-between, but it was considered to be lacking any real depth, replayability and longevity. India is the second chapter in the Chronicles series, and while it follows a similar path, have Ubisoft learnt from their mistakes?
One Hop forward, two hops back
As mentioned, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles India is a 2.5D sidescrolling platformer, its focus is very much on the platforming side of things. What do I mean by this? Well I don’t usually like to start with the negatives in a game but they are so glaringly obvious from the start that it makes more sense.
The story and plot in the game couldn’t be more basic. It’s really a matter of getting in, saving a friend, stopping the evil guy and saving the “world”. Well not exactly, but it’s along those lines. It has some seriously lazy dialogue and voice acting that I often felt myself cringing at points. Towards the end of the game I barely even listened to what was being said because I just had no interest in the reasoning I was doing anything.
The combat feels clunky and unintuitive. It doesn’t have any of that smoothness we find in the main AC games which is a bit of a pity because it could be so much simpler. Lastly on the negative side, it is just too repetitive at times. Most of the levels require you moving through a number of enemies with vision spheres so you need to time things as well as possible. There are places to hide and a number of ways to get through, but after the 3rd section or so you have really done it all.
India is pretty, alright
Though the storyline is dull and the combat a bit frustrating, a lot of that is made up for on the positive side of the game. First off, it has some really stunning visuals, possibly one of the best for this type of game that I have seen. The backgrounds throughout are marvelous and worth stopping to take in the visuals. It’s just a pity that it’s mostly the background and not actually utilised in any way, because the foreground is not nearly as spectacular.
It’s just a jump to the left… and a step to the right
The platforming sections in AC India are true bliss and take a page straight out of the old PoP games. There are sections where you will need to time your jumps with slides, swinging, falling and a lot more. In your armoury is also the ability to whistle, noise bombs, smoke bombs and Chakras to take on the environment and to misdirect the enemies while you are busy with the platforming bits.
It’s great for replayability that there are a few ways to get through a section, and the fact that each level is split up into a different challenge, which you earn points on. Sometimes you need to do it with style, without being seen, or within a time limit, so there is reason to go back to certain levels if you want.
I must say, I was largely impressed with the platforming aspect of the game, though at times it did feel a bit forced. At other times the game throws a great concept at you, such as an escape from a collapsing building, but it’s short lived and too infrequent which leaves you wishing there was a bit more of that.
One thing about the platforming I didn’t like is that in certain parts of the game you have a short time to get to the other side. I understand the idea behind platforming and time pressure, but this is something that I could have done less with, it gets annoying and I feel like it rushes you through for no real reason.
Worth a trip to India?
I love the idea behind the AC Chronicles games and I think India is very definitely worth a play, especially for the cost. It’s a 6-hour game (give or take) with enough reason to go back, plus a bunch of extra challenge rooms to try out too. It’s got excellent platforming, cool abilities, stuff to unlock and occasionally decent combat.
It’s a great pity they didn’t give the story a bit more focus because the main character, Arbaaz seems an interesting one. If you can look past the poor story, boring plot and slightly repetitive level design then you will be pretty happy with the offering that AC Chronicles India presents you. It’s certainly a bit more refreshing than the annual Assassin’s Creed release filled with bugs and lost ideas.