Developer: Climax Studio
Release Date: January 12th, 2016
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Stealth Platformer
Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on the PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is a follow-up to the surprisingly fun Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China, and is the second entry into a trilogy of games. Once again taking more hints from Mark of the Ninja than past Assassin’s Creed games, does Chronicles: India provide another fun $10 slice of assassin action, or should one off-shoot have been enough?
Chronicles: India follows Indian Assassin Arbaaz Mir. After his best friend and mentor is captured, Arbaaz must free him. Along the way he discovers that the Templars have come into possession of the mysterious boxed weapon that Shao Jun lost at the end of Chronicles: China. The game’s story, both Arbaaz’s personal story and the story tied to the Chronicles trilogy as a whole, basically goes absolutely nowhere. Arbaaz doesn’t really have much of a personality, and neither does anyone in the supporting cast. By the end of the game no one’s situation really changes at all, and the extremely interesting setting is never used in any meaningful way. As far as story goes, Chronicles: India is a complete failure. The best that can be said about it is that the concept-art cutscenes are once again beautiful, now using a very chalky and colorful artstyle that complements the equally colorful game.
The game doesn’t play too different from the first entry in the trilogy. A 2.5d stealth platformer, Arbaaz will mostly be avoiding enemies as he progresses through the game’s 10 missions. Just like before a “cone of vision” helps show exactly what enemies can and can not see, and Arbaaz has various tools and special abilities at his disposal to help him. The only real new item is the chakram, which works almost identical to the throwing knives from China but they can be bounced off of objects now. Otherwise, distracting noise darts and smoke bombs make up the rest of Arbaaz’s equipment. Where Arbaaz shines is the helix abilities, of which he brings three new ones to the table. Helix dash returns, allowing Arbaaz to jump between two hiding places without being seen. New to the series is helix strike, which allows him to kill nearby enemies instantly, helix blend, which allows him to turn invisible as long as he stays still, and helix blade, which causes enemy bodies to vanish after being killed.
These skills come in handy, as stealth is easily the best way to go through the game. There is a simple combat system relying on light and heavy attacks and blocking enemy attacks, but it’s extremely clumsy and not something I could reliably fall back on. Worse, many enemies were basically immune to any sort of up-close fighting. A single boss fight also forced me to use the crummy combat system, but at least this was a one time thing. There’s a few new very frustrating enemy types. One can’t be assassinated by any normal means unless they’re in a smoke bomb, and they’re nearly impossible to differentiate from the rest of the soldiers. Another hides in the shadows and turns the tables on you, assassinating you if you pass by their hiding place. Enemies like these manage to slow the game down to a crawl, causing me to spend more time looking at extremely small details to try and pick out who will block my assassination attempts and who won’t.
Most of the levels are basically the same thing: getting from the start to the end without getting killed. There’s some occasional breakups from the formula though. Platforming heavy levels pit you against a time limit rather than any enemies, while an occasional chase scene where Arbaaz must escape from a rampaging elephant put my ability to react to the test. There’s also occasional first person sniping segments that never really felt like they fit with the rest of the game. Much like Chronicles: China, each level would award me with points depending on how good I was and I could replay them to gather more points to get myself new abilities. There is also a challenge room for people who need a little extra something.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India fails to reach the same levels of enjoyment that its predecessor hit. Fans of the original will probably find something to like here, but those looking to jump in should start with China first.