Last month, I had the opportunity to play a few hours of Assassin’s Creed Mirage before release. I was worried about what I saw. It seemed very stripped back from the last few Assassin’s Creed titles that I’d grown accustomed to, including the likes of Valhalla and Odyssey. And while I’ve now had the chance to play through Mirage and clock in over 25 hours, I don’t think I was necessarily wrong with my initial assessment.
Numerous systems in Assassin’s Creed Mirage feel entirely gutted, and at the same time, there’s not anything plugged in there to replace those holes. Ubisoft was aiming for Mirage to pay homage to those classic Assassin’s Creed games from 15 years ago, and I think they’ve succeeded in doing that. Although Mirage is the weakest game in the franchise since Origins revitalized it, I surprisingly still had fun with my time. I get what they were trying to do, and as a package, it works well as a nice throwback to another era.
- Release Date: October 5, 2023
- Platform: PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4
- Price: $49.99
- Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft Bordeaux
Mirage Turns Back The Clock
Most of Assassin’s Creed Mirage takes place in the Round City of Baghdad and its surrounding wilderness. Your character, Basim – also a pivotal part of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – is a young street thief recruited by the Hidden Ones and trained to be a master assassin. The overall task is to unmask members of The Order who have infiltrated high levels of power in the region and stop them from executing their plans – by stabbing them in the neck.
This whole part is pulled off relatively well. You have an investigation menu that you revisit over the course of the game to complete quests and pull together all of your clues. Mirage continues the recent tradition as seen in other Ubisoft properties, where you can select the level of guidance provided to you. At its default setting, you’re not always given a specific objective marker from the get-go. You’ll have to figure a few things out for yourself, whether that be eavesdropping in on a nearby conversation or stealing a key to open a backroom door that you found earlier. I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of gameplay Ubisoft injects into their properties, and I wish more developers would borrow this idea because it’s brilliant.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage doesn’t take as long to get going as some of the previous games – It took me approximately 6 hours for the title card to pop up in Valhalla. This was a much shorter experience, and by the end, I felt pretty satisfied with the amount of time I’d put in. But I also wasn’t holding out for more. By the first few hours, you’ve kind of seen everything Mirage has to offer in terms of gameplay mechanics. Sure, you’re slowly unlocking new Skills, but most of these don’t add a lot to the overall experience; instead they are minor changes to existing systems.
The most exciting aspect of Assassin’s Creed Mirage for me wasn’t the primary campaign and what the city of Baghdad had going on. It was everything outside of the town. I wanted more of the Wilderness region and the stories I found out there while exploring in my last few hours. It’s the stuff I enjoy a lot of in open-world games. Discovering bizarre yet intriguing stories that feel like you’ve stumbled upon something, not many people will see. Because of how densely packed everything is in the Round City, it all kind of blends together and doesn’t give you much room to breathe or uncover anything unique on your own.
Instead, you’re going from one investigation to the next, stabbing enemies in the back, and that’s about it. Don’t get me wrong. Again, I enjoyed this stealth-assassin power fantasy, but at a certain point, that ‘stealth’ part became a bit silly. I didn’t feel I needed to unlock any more tools because I’d solved the stealth gameplay without trouble. I was pretty quickly able to just sprint around and clear a room of guards without anyone noticing, compared to earlier in the game, where I was carefully planning my approach and meticulously executing a stab-a-thon. The introduction of the Assassin Focus skill further magnifies this by being able to chain-kill up to five enemies with a press of a button. It does detract a bit from the puzzle-solving element.
My time with Assassin’s Creed Mirage was enjoyable, but it’s also difficult not to look at everything else that is completely absent that was introduced in Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla. Ultimately, Mirage feels like a game that is old with outdated mechanics, but that’s also what Ubisoft aimed for. It’s an interesting way to experience a title, almost like Mirage is a remake of another game that didn’t exist before. Instead, it’s channeling that trilogy of Assassin’s Creed titles that began in the early 2000s – and I think that’s exactly where it should stay. Mirage makes for a great goodbye nod to that era, but it’s not one I want them to continue pursuing if it’s going to be this toned down.
7 / 10
|+ Good execution to pay tribute to an older era of games.|
|+ Smaller scope for those looking for less of a time sink.|
|+ Doesn’t hold your hand when giving you objectives.|
|– Stealth doesn’t really matter in the late-game.|
|– Most of the interesting world-building stories you have to go hunting for.|
|– Skills don’t add many gameplay changes.|
|– Combat is very dull.|
Gamepur was provided with a PlayStation 5 code for the purpose of this review.