Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India
released out now! Reviewed on PS4
Also on PC, XBox One
Back in April, Ubisoft served up a refreshing little appetiser – a downloadable amuse- bouche that whetted our appetite for the next instalment in the ACC trilogy. Given that ACC: China was an eminently capable game, you might expect this follow- up to serve as an exercise in story development, mechanical evolution, and general refinement. Unfortunately it fails to deliver on any of these fronts.
The sequel doesn’t get off to a strong start, introducing protagonist Arbaaz Mir by having players steer their lusty assassin towards a steamy midnight tryst. It’s a juvenile start to the game, and it positions him as some sort of nineteenth century jock with a quick wit and an eye for the ladies.
Indeed, anyone hoping that these smaller- scale outings would provide an opportunity for Ubisoft to experiment with storytelling is in for a disappointment. ACC: India presents yet another search for a mystical McGuffin acted out by a cast of completely two- dimensional characters.
But whereas the first game made up for its lack of narrative nuance with mechanical solidity and a certain sense of novelty, India’s tweaks are largely negative. China took care to train players in the art of 2D assassination before setting them loose, for instance, but India assumes you’re up to speed from the off, and a cursory tutorial omits any number of details that will prove crucial to your progression through, and enjoyment of, the wider game.
The considered sneakery is broken up by occasional speedrunning stages that see Arbaaz chasing down targets or escaping dangerous locales. Success in these sections carries a certain sense of accomplishment, but even here there’s a misguided reliance on insta- fail objectives, so that rather than passing through these stages by the skin of your teeth, you’ll find yourself sitting through them time and again.
Certain sections are so exacting or poorly signposted that repeated failure is simply the only way to figure them out, encouraging a trial- and- error approach that quickly grates. It’s unfortunate, given that China made for such a satisfactory entrée. We can only hope that the last in the trilogy, Russia, will present a tastier third course. James Nouch
See if you can spot the line in the otherwise rather ropey script that’s lifted wholesale from Serenity…
As ever, things don’t go well for the guys in red shirts.