The second entry into Ubisoft’s 2.5D Assassin’s Creed Chronicles trilogy takes us to India in 1841 during British rule. Anyone who has played Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China will be familiar with the gameplay and anyone who has read the 2014 graphic novel, Assassin’s Creed Brahman, will be somewhat familiar with our assassin hero in this game, Arbaaz Mir, the Indian assassin. For those who aren’t familiar, Arbaaz is a member of the Assassin Brotherhood in India. He was born in Kashmir to a Muslim family sometime around Maharajah Ranjit Singh’s conquest of the region in 1819, leading him to grow up with a growing resentment toward the maharajah, viewing him as a murderer.
There’s more of his tale in the graphic novel (which is phenomenal, in case you’re looking for something beautiful to read). It revolves around him and the fictional princess, Pyara Kaur, granddaughter of Ranjit Singh (who was a real person), as they evade the Templars in pursuit of the Koh i Noor or ‘Mountain of Light’, a first civilisation artefact with immense power. Assassin’s Creed India takes place roughly two years after these events and still revolves around the Koh i Noor. There’s a lot of action, a bit of romance and little else in regards to story and character depth. The characters come across as being two-dimensional and somewhat clichéd, especially if you haven’t read the graphic novel. The villain, A British Templar (fair enough, no one expects the reigning British Empire to be the good guys), speaks with a tone typical of someone trying much too hard to vocalise his evil.
Not that he’s the only one who fails to truly bring life to their character. Most of the voices sound unenthusiastic, although it must be said that while no one ever speaks any Hindi in Assassin’s Creed India, they do a fantastic job in mimicking the accent and thankfully do not fall upon the goofy stereotype. As for our protagonist, Arbaaz Mir is a somewhat enjoyable character. His personality rests uncomfortably between witty and dour. While it’s absolutely fitting for an assassin, you’ll find yourself wishing that he’d make a few more quips, not because they’re particularly funny, but just so you could have a reason to like him as a character, as opposed to just wanting one.
The plot in Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is fittingly short and linear if you can piece together whatever it is the cutscenes are trying to convey. While there are some fantastic images, the cutscenes are riddled with bloom transitions which, while pretty to look at, sometimes confuse the already vague scene. It’s not difficult to follow, just surprisingly annoying.
You’ll follow Arbaaz Mir as he seeks out the Koh i Noor and tries to pry it from the Templar’s evil clutches. As with the characters, you’ll find a few generic plot points but nothing that should discourage you from playing Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India. It’s clear that the focus was on gameplay anyway and not on any real character and/or plot development. You’ll realise it when you finally reach the very abrupt and anti-climactic end.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India does a fantastic job of reflecting the Indian style and culture in its artwork and levels. The Sikh empire is well represented here and you, as Arbaaz Mir, are given the option of dispatching guards non-lethally, along with other abilities absent in the previous game of the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles trilogy such as looting bodies, pick-pocketing, and double-assassinations. Thankfully, the game does a fantastic job of ensuring these abilities do not go to waste. As with the Assassin’s Creed China, you’re rewarded for being stealthy and going unseen and the ability to pickpocket a required key from a guard, rather than looting it from his broken body, is a fantastic option to have because the guards in this game vary greatly and some are seemingly invulnerable to stealth assassinations.
These particular guards are elite British soldiers and seem to fill every level the further you progress. It’s a welcome challenge to be sure and forces players to think carefully about how they will tackle a level. You’re welcome to go in with chakrams spinning, but the combat mechanics are mediocre and more often than not, you’ll be met with armed reinforcements who will shoot you down before you’ve had a chance to escape from your bad decision.
Stealth is encouraged and certain levels require that you not be seen at all, even for an instant. A variety of obstacles will be set in your path as well. Aside from locked doors, you’ll find that tripwire bombs grow increasingly abundant. There are a couple of ways to get around them: you can slide under them, jump over them or dismantle them. The latter takes some time and carries with it the risk of getting caught. There is also another class of elite guard that utilises techniques used by the Assassin Brotherhood and if you’re careful, you’ll find them in their hiding places before they get you. 2.5D levels mean that sometimes you will have to find an alternate route around certain area because of this. Guards will also wander in and out of doorways to other levels of the area, forcing the player to improvise, when their plan of attack is suddenly interrupted by the sound of a door creaking open.
Despite all this, there are still levels that simply do not work, mainly the race levels where everyone is looking for you but conveniently facing the wrong direction. It’s still an improvement over the same type of levels in Assassin’s Creed China however, especially with the addition of crumbling walls and stampeding elephants. In fact, in comparison with China, the game is fantastic.
Those who played the first game will immediately be struck by the improvement of enemies.
Sure, they won’t climb ladders to catch you and they still get lost in each other’s’ eyes in conversation but, they’re far more formidable than the guards in China and some of them can now stand against a wall to stare at the screen, adding a little more of a challenge, especially when you face desynchronization when caught. You’ll also notice an improvement when it comes to the protagonist. Arbaaz is slightly more talkative than the silent Shao Jun, and acts a little as though he’s engaging with the player. It does seem that the developers analysed Assassins Creed Chronicles: China and sought to improve upon the mechanics they had, but Assassins Creed Chronicles: India still fails to be what Assassin’s Creed II was to Assassin’s Creed. Here’s hoping that the final entry into the series will provide the ultimate 2.5D Assassin experience.
• Voice acting is decent
• Arbaaz Mirh is a likeable character.
• Player given a variety of abilities
• Respect to Sikh beliefs and Hindi culture
• Improved enemy behaviour
• Challenging missions
• Combat mechanics are mediocre
• Very little character development
• Unclear cutscenes
• Unsatisfactory end