With ‘franchise fatigue’ beginning to take its toll on the long-running series, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India returns to the side-scrolling adventures as seen prior in the last Chronicles instalment, China. Being the first Assassin’s Creed game I’ve jumped into since Revelations (long time, I know!) I wasn’t sure what to expect, diving into this episode. But is this the game to bring the series out of monotony, or does it fall as flat as a Templar thrown off a rooftop?Playing as Arbaaz Mir, an assassin in India, it is your goal to track down the Koh-i-Noor diamond, a Piece of Eden held by the Templars. In the midst of tensions between the Sikh Empire and the East India Company, Arbaaz must fight the Templar Order and protect those valuable to him, including his mentor Hamid, and his secret lover, Princess Pyara Kaur.Unlike the main series, Chronicles is presented as a 2.5D side-scroller; characters and environments are rendered in 3D, but the POV is from the side. This makes the game very different from the main franchise, while still maintaining the AC ‘feel’. Transitioning between foreground and background areas is also included, adding an extra sense of depth to the world, and giving the player more to explore than just left and right. Objective points, item locations and hiding spots are illuminated in the game to make it easier for the player, as are the lines of sight of the enemies, allowing the aspect of stealth to still be a big part of the game.The world of the game itself is vividly painted in orange and red hues, reflecting the game being set in India. The cutscenes also show this, being fluid watercolour-esque images rather than computer generated, with the addition of patterns also reminiscent of the Indian style. The enemies speak in the native tongue, and the music also has an Indian flair, really capturing the essence of the game’s local theme.When I first started playing this game, my initial thoughts harked back to a simpler time, namely the original ‘Prince of Persia’ (That is, the 1989 PC game, for those of you playing at home). The basic running/jumping/climbing aspects are there, coupled with grapples and slides that feel quite fluid in motion. Stealth is, of course, a large part of the game too, but is also quite fun and a lot easier with the fact that the lines of sight from enemies are onscreen visually for players to see. All of Arbaaz’s secondary items are tactical rather than weaponized, and mostly used for distraction or cover during missions, including smoke bombs and noise bombs. Needless to say, combat itself is also very simple and easy to master, with blocking, quick attacks and heavy slashes making it more of a dance than a fight.The biggest issue the game has is the fact that while it feels relatively fun, there is a lot of repetition. Each level follows a very basic principle of “objective, side objective, bonus task” that becomes very bland once it’s been done more than two missions in a row. Add to this the fact that while the gameplay itself is fun, the controls are quite fiddly; the amount of times I went for a takedown and instead started slicing someone with my sword while they alerted others made me frustrated and had me restarting the level again.If this game was itself an Assassin going for a ‘leap of faith’, I can’t help but feel it’d only JUST be landing in the hay cart, maybe breaking an arm or a leg on the way down. At it’s core, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is a simple-enough fun game that will keep players entertained for a little while, but ultimately it just doesn’t fulfill the potential it shows, nor does it wash out the bad taste that successive years of Assassin’s Creed games has left in our mouths.
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