Assassin's Creed Mirage Review
- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
Despite its problems, Assassin’s Creed Mirage genuinely feels like a love letter to the games in the series that kickstarted its legacy.
- Developer: Ubisoft Bordeaux
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Release Date: October 5, 2023
- Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5
- Tested On: PlayStation 5
- Intriguing Cast
- Stealth Focus
- Creative Levels
- Fluid Parkour
- Stale Narrative
- Gimmicky Melee Combat
Over the past couple of years, Ubisoft took on the risk of revitalizing Assassin’s Creed franchise by introducing RPG elements, hack-and-slash combat systems, and progression mechanics focusing on RNG loot into the mix. And the last three games in the series that made use of these systems were divisive, to say the least.
And now finally, Ubisoft has brought the series back to its roots with Assassin’s Creed Mirage, a fresh new entry that reintroduces classic mechanics such as stealth-focused gameplay, strategic planning during major missions, as well as creative ways to take down targets.
Story And Setting
Assassins Creed Mirage takes place during the ninth-century golden period of Baghdad, and follows the story of Basim Ibn Ishaq, an Assassin whom many would recognize as one of the main villains near the end of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
This game then allows us to experience his youth, of how as a young beggar, Basim was haunted by nightmares of Jinn almost every single night. So together with his closest friend, Nehal, he pickpockets the people of Baghdad and runs odd jobs for merchants and traders to earn a living.
Assassins Creed Mirage is a lot more politically driven when compared to past titles.
However, Basim yearns for justice and freedom for his people and demands that he and Nehal seek richer opportunities that offer higher rewards at the cost of higher risk. And while running a favor for his peddler friend, Dervis, our protagonist happens to run into one of the Brotherhood of Assassin’s members, Roshan, and seeks to learn of their ways.
This prompts our main character to go out of his way to fulfill their needs with Nehal, as they infiltrate the Caliph’s Palace to plunder a chest containing a mysterious item.
But this chest ends up containing an artifact containing visions from the Golden Age, and in a cruel twist of fate, innocents end up being killed by The Order of the Ancients in pursuit of Basim and Nehal. Thus our hero willingly flees with Roshan to become a member of The Hidden Ones.
While I’m certainly more fond of character-driven games in this series, Assassins Creed Mirage is a lot more politically driven when compared to past titles. A significant chunk of the narrative is focused on Basim and the Brotherhood tracking down traces of other known Golden Age artifacts along with the rest of the Order.
While I really enjoyed the characterization of Basim coming to terms with his moral conflictions, and most of the other characters in the game, the overall writing lacks that certain oomph factor that reels you in for the journey.
In some key story moments, I wished the game did a better job with the presentation, and that Order members weren’t just tossed aside for rushing the plot along. I could describe each of these moments in detail, but again, I encourage you to experience the game’s storytelling yourself since we are refraining from spoilers.
If you’re a fan of the classic gameplay format of the series dating back to the first Assassin’s Creed, then chances are that Mirage will impress you just like it did me. The developers have truly built upon the gameplay foundations of those older titles in order to create the winning formula we see here.
Stealth is the primary focus this time around, with a strong emphasis on a strategic playstyle as well as a creative-level design. Assassinations, one of the integral mechanics of the franchise, no longer have any sort of damage falloff that scales with your level, as you can freely take out any target from the shadows in one hit.
There is little to no emphasis on loot management anymore, and you only have access to your main suit of sword and dagger. These gear pieces can be swapped with different ones supporting unique perks and upgrades that boost their viability in gameplay.
Most missions in Assassins Creed Mirage revolve around planning your infiltration route to either rescue an ally or assassinate a major target. Infiltration can be done via a number of approaches, from paying off nearby merchants or locating a hidden entrance near the target.
Once you’re inside, depending on the type of mission, you may need to complete a few sub-objectives, which can range from luring out your kill target, using your eagle companion, Enkidu, to scan primary objectives, or even locating keys to locked doors.
If you’re a fan of the classic gameplay format of the series dating back to the first Assassin’s Creed, then chances are that Mirage will impress you just like it did me.
Before engaging with these main missions, though, you will be partaking in the initial investigation that will feature you tracking down your target or ally by completing various sub-missions with other characters. After fully unraveling the investigation at hand, you will then have enough proof to engage with the main mission.
Open combat meanwhile is based on the typical hack-and-slash melee format, with parrying and dodging at your disposal. But it’s much more intuitive than what we had back in Syndicate and Black Flag, where it felt like you could clear a dozen targets just by pressing evade once and counterattacking.
In Mirage, while the combat does feel rather underwhelming, deeper details, such as enemies being aggressive in their different attacks and being able to deflect ranged projectiles using the dagger, had me quite engaged.
Contracts are also available at the Assassin’s Bureau, which allow you to earn various rewards and three different types of tokens: Merchant, Scholar, and Power. Each of these Khidmah Tokens grants you unique bonuses or benefits, such as paying off local musicians to distract guards or even accessing permanent discounts.
My favorite are the Power Tokens, which allow me to rally nearby rebels to attack guards and cause chaos during mission infiltration points. This kind of freedom is a great way to encourage creative planning from the player and allows you to freely take down your target without too many restrictions.
The new set of skills for Basim are divided into the Phantom, Trickster, and Predator trees, with the first one focusing on your combat/traversal prowess, the second on your gadgetry and utility, and the third one maximizing Enkidu’s viability in scanning areas.
Skill Points are mostly granted via completing missions instead of leveling up like in previous RPG titles. The skill I instantly grabbed immediately was Breakfall, which allows Basim to mitigate damage after jumping or parkouring off from higher distances.
Speaking of Parkour, veteran fans like me will be glad to know that it’s been greatly improved and polished, as there were only a few rare occasions where it felt stiff, or I missed my jump by a few frames.
Another new feature is the Chain Assassination, and yes, while it may make the game feel too easy or unrealistic, you can’t always spam it as you will need to first fill up the Assassin Focus Bar by neutralizing enemies using stealth.
Visuals And Performance
It is worth noting that the game engine used for Assassin’s Creed Mirage is built in the Ubisoft Anvil, the same one used in Valhalla, so don’t expect any major graphical differences in this game compared to previous ones.
But even game engine discussion aside, everything is rendered beautifully here, from the sandy dunes on the outskirts of Baghdad to the majestic royal vistas in the heart of this city. The game also maintained a solid 60 FPS in Performance mode with no noticeable dips during hectic moments like combat or chases.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is built in the Ubisoft Anvil, the same one used in Valhalla, so don’t expect any major graphical differences in this game compared to previous ones.
However, unlike AC Valhalla, there weren’t any major bugs or glitches to be found here, which is good, especially for a pre-release game running without the Day 1 patch.
Say what you want about the series as a whole, but Assassin’s Creed Mirage genuinely feels like a love letter to the games in the series that kickstarted its legacy. While the main storytelling lacks depth, it has a wonderfully written protagonist whose lineage traces back to the early days of the Assassin Brotherhood.
The gameplay is heavily focused on stealth mechanics and creative mission design, plus the smaller playtime does not make it feel stale or repetitive by any means, given the $50 price. This is a celebration of the franchise, despite its many shortcomings, and one that might resonate with older fans.
This has been our Assassin’s Creed Mirage Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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Why You Should Play This Game
You should play this game if you consider yourself a hardcore fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and you yearn to return to the glory days of stealth-based gameplay. While not everything about the title is perfect, or even good for that matter, the gameplay can be solid a lot of the time.
Why You Shouldn’t Play This Game
You shouldn’t play this game if you’re looking for an engaging narrative, or if you yearn to go back to the days of true hardcore stealth. This game still has the DNA of the most recent titles in the series, and even when the focus on stealth is apparent, the repetitive combat occasionally rears its ugly head.
Who Is This Game For?
This game is for fans of the franchise looking for a change of pace from the RPG-heavy mechanics the last three games heavily leaned into. And while those mechanics are not completely absent here, the change is more than enough to justify the price tag for hardcore fans, granted that they don’t care about the story.
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