After the release of Assassin’s Creed Origins in 2017, the Ubisoft franchise has enjoyed some success as an open-world RPG. However, that’s not how the series began; the best Assassin’s Creed games are known for their parkour, stealth-based gameplay, and exploring famous locales throughout history.
With Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Ubisoft wants to bring the franchise back to its roots. You can argue that they accomplished this a little too well; Mirage has much in common with the original Assassin’s Creed game from 2007, failing to incorporate the improvements from subsequent releases in the series.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage Feels More Like An Expansion Than A Full Fledged Game
Video games in 2023 are longer than ever. I don’t mean this as a slight against Assassin’s Creed Mirage when I say the game is surprisingly short. Take this as a good thing; we need more 10-2 hour games and less 70-100 hour titles.
The issue, though, is that the game’s story ties directly into the events of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, diving deeper into the backstory of Mirage’s protagonist, Basim. Basim appeared in Valhalla, and we learn more about who he truly is in Mirage. It’s an excellent way to make the game accessible to relapsed fans while catering to series die-hards. However, it gives Mirage an identity crisis: is this a full release, or is this just a project that started as DLC for Valhalla before morphing into its own thing.
It’s a shame because Mirage acts well as a soft reboot for the series. The gameplay harkens back to running from rooftop to rooftop before performing satisfying assassinations. You’ll have to investigate clues, follow leads, and take time before planning each mission. We’re a long way away from the tedious nature of the original Assassin’s Creed game; Mirage’s take on investigation helps to keep things fresh.
There’s A Tactical Element to Assasin’s Creed Mirage That’s Very Satisfying
Mirage uses tactical mechanics to put a modern spin on its investigation-based gameplay. Players can use two critical features to their advantage rather than sitting on a bench and eavesdropping on people.
Basim can hone his talents and give players tactical advantages. This includes spotting enemies on your map, key allies or objectives, and even summoning a falcon to provide an aerial view and plan your attack. I often spent as much time planning my next steps as I did completing objectives.
The key feature in Assassin’s Creed Mirage is “Assassin Focus.” This allows players to slow time and kill multiple enemies simultaneously. Given the nature of some of your encounters, this is an invaluable tool to get the job done without having gameplay grinding to a halt.
As a result, gameplay is a beautiful breath of fresh air that blends the best of stealth and action. Sadly, there are still some hiccups along the way. Pathing when performing parkour is sometimes awkward, resulting in far too many frustrating moments. I’m spending far too long yelling at the TV because Basim refuses to make a noticeable jump while climbing.
I Honestly Couldn’t Care Less About The Story In Assassin’s Creed Mirage
The weakest aspect of Assassin’s Creed Mirage is undoubtedly the story. The prologue attempts to paint a sympathetic picture of Basim and his surroundings, but its rushed through so quickly that there isn’t enough time to invest in the character. Before long, you’re whisked away into his training as an Assassin. Next thing you know, you’re sent back to Baghdad and performing Assassin missions.
Ubisoft tries to pull off a cinematic approach to its storytelling, cold open and everything, but instead glosses over the important bits because it knows you want to get straight into the action. It feels incredibly contradictory for a title whose gameplay emphasizes the importance of slowing down.
What’s weird is that Assassin’s Creed games have always been hit or miss in the narrative, but the best titles are the ones with the best stories and characters. Assassin’s Creed II is so beloved because of Ezio Auditore da Firenze and his adventures.
The real star of the show is the city of Baghdad. It’s an absolute delight to explore, thanks partly to how alive it feels. Ubisoft captured the essence of Assassin’s Creed with its locale, filled with things to see and do. Yet I can’t help but feel like things come a little short, rounding back to the fact that this feels less like a full game and more like an expansion.
There’s a lot of potential with Assassin’s Creed Mirage, but the game fails to live up to it. Returning the series to its roots gives promise for the franchise’s future, but I wonder if they took the assignment a little too literally. 2007’s Assassin’s Creed debut is a flawed, imperfect game brimming with potential. I feel the same about Assassin’s Creed Mirage over 15 years later.