It’s been a little while since we’ve seen a game in Ubisoft’s series of 2.5D Assassin’s Creed sidescrollers. At one point they were set to release throughout 2015 but after Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China didn’t quite set the world on fire, they dropped off the radar a little. Now, Ubi plans to release the remaining two installments one after the other, beginning with Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India.
The first thing you’ll notice about the game is that it is a riot of colour compared to other games in the series, particularly China which featured a more subdued palette. It has this really lovely painterly look to it that makes me wish like crazy that Ubi would take the main series the Delhi. Of course, the fact that it’s so nice to look at shouldn’t be so surprising considering Ubisoft’s track record for creating beautiful 2.5D platformers in the past like Rayman Origins and Valiant Hearts: The Great War.
In terms of controls, India’s lead character Arbaaz Mir kind of floats through the beautiful environments like he’s in a really violent dream. Jumping, running, even attacking feels as if Arbaaz is affected by low gravity and he moves in a way that isn’t lazy, but is maybe a little slower than I’m comfortable with.
China introduced many of the core mechanics that permeate Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India and they seem to be almost identical. While it doesn’t give you the same kind of freedom you find in the main series, you are given an objective and allowed to get to it in whichever manner suits you: you can stealth your way through it or you can whip out your sword and cut anyone who gets in your way to ribbons. The levels are actually quite long and lend themselves to some fun leaping and jumping around that recalls the old Broderbund Prince of Persia titles from the late eighties and early nineties.
Personally, I’ve found that cranking the difficulty on the game up to its highest difficulty yields the best results for those looking to stick to a stealth playthrough. If you’re looking to go for combat, well, I still found that it was a bit clunky (due to Arbaaz’s lethargic approach to life in general considering his line of work) but when it works it feels reasonably satisfying.
As I said earlier, it doesn’t feel like Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India brings anything to the table that wasn’t already in China. And another question I’d like to ask is “who specifically are these games for?” I’m a devout fan of the Assassin’s Creed main series, so I don’t really feel like it’s aimed at me and I certainly haven’t heard anything about it from other fans or those in the 2D platforming community. Maybe that’s being a bit harsh but it needled at me through my entire playthrough and I want answers.
Ultimately, I think if your choice is between Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China and India, then India should be your pick simply because of the very lovely visuals. If you did play China (and that could potentially make you the first person outside of games media I’ve met who did) then you won’t really find anything here that sets it apart in a meaningful way. The series has one more entry to go in February’s Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia and we’re interested to see if anything changes when we set foot in the Siberian tundra.
Review Score: 6.0 out of 10
Highlights: Gorgeous art design; Great level design
Lowlights: Mechanics unchanged from China
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal, Climax Studios
Released: January 12, 2016
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed on PlayStation 4