China is the first in a series of three Chronicles games that aims to look at other Assassin’s in the Assassin’s Creed universe located in other countries around the world. China, as you’d expect, takes place in 16th century China during the downfall of the Ming Dynasty. Suffering a blow to their forces, the Chinese Brotherhood of Assassins have been thinned by a tyrannical emperor.
You play as Shao Jun, an Assassin who fled China to train under Ezio Auditore, before returning to China to reclaim it and restore the brotherhood. If Shao Jun sounds familiar, it’s because she appeared in the short film (Embers) that was released around the same time as Revelations back in 2011. If you haven’t seen the film previously, it’s definitely not worth stressing about as the backstory is minimally impactful to the events of Chronicles: China.And while there is definitely a story here, it really fails to resonate or draw in players. When you remove all the chaff, it’s really just the story of a seemingly outnumbered and outpowered Assassin triumphing over immeasurable odds against a powerful Templar-esque force. It’s simple, it’s been done to death before and it’s disappointingly one of the least interesting historical storylines in an Assassin’s Creed game yet.
For a platformer, you probably don’t need as much of a narrative push as other games, but given how interesting the storylines have been in previous Assassin’s Creed games it seems a shame to waste this time period and setting on such a ho-hum storyline.Visually speaking, Chronicles: China is a really mixed bag. On one hand, the game is clearly attempting to look like a watercolour painting in motion. On the other, the game somehow just misses the mark. Yes, it’s extremely stylised, but it doesn’t have the soul or proper feel of the look they’re going for. There are some nice touches here and there – vibrant reds in particular always standout against the relatively dull brown colours that permeate the environments.