Assassin's Creed Mirage Review: Stealth Reimagined

Assassin’s Creed Mirage Review: A Nostalgic Leap Towards Stealth Perfection

A promising leap back to the shadows amidst the ancient charm of Baghdad.

By GamesRecon

Every now and then, a game emerges from the ether that feels like it’s been crafted with a peculiar, almost uncanny attention to your own gaming desires. That’s the aura that enveloped me as I navigated through the ancient, beautifully rendered streets of Baghdad in Assassin’s Creed Mirage. Initially conceived as a mere expansion to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Mirage morphed into its own fantastic adventure, feeling like a hearty nod to the series’ golden days where stealth, maneuvers, and slickly ruthless assassinations were the meat and potatoes of the gameplay, rather than a never-ending trudge through equipment ranks and missions record. The transition felt spiritual, almost as if the developers had taken a quiet, introspective retreat to the heart of what made Assassin’s Creed a household name among gamers.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage’s essence is akin to rekindling a romance with a high school sweetheart. The same old charm is there but accompanied by a bittersweet realization that not everything is as rosy as the nostalgia-tinted glasses made it out to be. And yet, despite the occasional stumble in its stride, Assassin’s Creed Mirage manages to rekindle that old flame, offering a glimpse into the potential future of a series returning to its roots. Through the eyes of a gamer who’s seen the series evolve, sometimes stumbling along the way, Mirage is more than just a game; it’s a hopeful whisper in the ears of every AC aficionado, hinting that the essence of what we fell in love with isn’t just a relic of the past, but a cornerstone for the adventures yet to come.

Back to Basics

The moment I plunged into Assassin’s Creed Mirage, it was like being hurled back into the epochs of Altair and Ezio. The game felt like a breath of fresh, old air amidst the modern-day, RPG-infested realms of the Assassin’s Creed universe. You know, the days when being an assassin meant lurking in the shadows, notifying opponent group patterns, and orchestrating a symphony of stealth kills. Mirage revives that essence, dusts off the old stealth mechanics, and gives it a little modern-day spit shine. It’s like Ubisoft finally remembered that the heart of Assassin’s Creed was not in dialogue trees or stat-grinding but in the cold steel of a hidden blade meeting the warm flesh of an unsuspecting target. Ah, the good old days!

Assassins Creed Mirage is giving us the old classic vibes.

Now, the transition isn’t without its modern-day fingerprints. The stealth in the game has evolved, blending the vintage assassin vibes with a dash of 21st-century gaming zest. It’s filled with rooftops that beckon your boots, ziplines that dare you to take the aerial express, and those cheerful hay trolleys waiting to cradle your daring dive from the heavens. The city is a stealth sandbox, meticulously crafted to tickle your tactical mind, tempting you to plot the ballet of death from the shadows. But, when the game transports you to that precarious ledge, with a platoon of guards below unaware of the storm that’s about to rain down, it’s like Ubisoft took a page out of our wildest assassin fantasies. It’s not just about the satisfaction of a clean kill, but the thrill of being the unseen, the unanticipated dread in the heart of the corrupt.

Yet, as you navigate the fine line between the shadows and the spotlight, you might stumble upon a few modern-day snags. The combat can feel like a spam-fest at times, a far cry from the orchestrated dance of death we dreamed of. The movement of characters occasionally felt like wading through a vat of syrup, and the parkour, although a visual delight, didn’t always hit the mark in the fluidity department. It’s like having a taste of your favorite vintage wine, only to find a hint of modern-day preservatives.

Despite these minor gripes, Mirage doesn’t shy away from embracing its roots. It’s a respectful nod to the classic days of AC while donning a modern cloak. The blend isn’t seamless, but the heartbeats of the olden golden times are palpable. Every leap, every silent takedown, every stealthy evasion reminded me why I fell in love with the series in the first place. It’s Ubisoft tip-toeing back to its origins, offering a taste of the series’ former glory with a side of modern-day gaming garnish. And as the sun cast long shadows over the beautifully rendered city, with me lurking within one, ready to strike, it was clear – Assassin’s Creed Mirage was an ode to the lineup’s stealth legacy, a quiet yet profound shoutout to the roots.

Ubisoft Bordeaux’s Spin

Stepping onto the grand stage with a lead project is no small feat, especially when it’s under the gigantic banner of Assassin’s Creed. Yet, Ubisoft Bordeaux took the helm with Assassin’s Creed Mirage, and did they take us on a trip down memory lane albeit with a fresh spin? Up until Mirage, Bordeaux was like that backstage maestro, assisting in managing the grandeur of major AC titles and contributing to Valhalla’s DLC. But with Mirage, they stepped into the limelight, and the gaming arena held its breath.

The question buzzing in every franchise veteran’s mind was, “In a series that fluctuates throughout the course of time like a chameleon, what does the term “classic” actually imply?” You may think about the idealized secrecy and chain-killing sprees of the Ezio time define the traditional AC atmosphere, or your mind might glow with the thought of the high-seas adventures or assembling an assassins’ fraternity. It’s like every title in the series added a new flavor, but Bordeaux decided to take a scoop from the original dish. They aimed their crossbow at the first Assassin’s Creed game, the one that started it all, to find their north star. It’s a character that shines brightly over 9th-century Baghdad, bringing us many years into Altar’s past to investigate the Basim Ibn Ishaq’s roots, a name that rings bells from Valhalla.

Basim sitting on the horse and looking at the city.

Now, let’s talk about the brilliance of combining old-school vibes with modern stealth mechanics. Mirage takes the raw essence of social stealth from the series’ infancy and adds a sprinkle of modern-day level design magic. Each task seems like an arena for disguise, complete with several paths and enemy patrols that may be eliminated, sidestepped, or just left clueless. It’s like being handed a palette of stealth with a canvas that’s the intricately designed city and the freedom to paint your own narrative of shadowy exploits.

And with the inclusion of a nice eagle-eye view, scouting from the skies before diving into the stealthy mayhem felt like a nod to the modern gaming era, while still keeping the series essence intact. A sneaky raid plotting experience in an Assassin’s Creed title wasn’t previously so pleasant. The arsenal at your disposal isn’t just a one-note killfest; you’ve got your great swords, smoke explosives, sleep needles, and more, making the stealth approach a cerebral endeavor rather than a button-mashing race to the assassination target. But, navigating through the narrative, it felt a bit like an expansion trying to wear the big boots of a standalone title, especially with the story being tightly knit with Valhalla’s lore. It’s a peculiar blend of the old and new, giving a taste of both worlds yet leaving a craving for a bit more coherence.

Ubisoft Bordeaux has crafted something that feels nostalgic yet fresh, familiar yet new. It’s a delicate dance between honoring the series’ legacy and injecting current-gen game design sensibilities. And as the credits rolled, it was clear, that the Bordeaux touch added a new layer to the AC saga, one that beckoned the old guard of the franchise while extending a hand to the new. It’s a step that hints at the thrilling possibilities of what the “classic” essence could bring to the future chapters of Assassin’s Creed.

Stealth Mechanics

How we’ve longed for the days when stalking from the shadows felt like an art form. Assassin’s Creed Mirage seems to have heard our stealthy cries and served up a platter of sneakiness that had us drooling. Now, imagine this: you’re perched on a rooftop, the moon casting long, eerie shadows on the cobblestone below, and the only sound is the distant laughter from a tavern and the occasional clank of guards’ armor. You survey the area, spotting guards patrolling in a pattern that you can almost dance to. Your fingers itch over the controller as you plan your silent, deadly ballet. The game taps into that primal stealth essence, making every mission feel like a puzzle waiting to be silently unraveled. And it’s not just about the kills; it’s the exhilaration of being the unseen terror, the whispered fear among the corrupt.

Stealthy element of Assassin's Creed Mirage.

The game takes stealth and cranks it up to eleven with a variety of ways to approach your objective. You can be the ghost, picking off guards with well-aimed sleep darts, or you can be the storm, sneaking through the shadows and leaving a trail of bodies as you carve your way to your target. The toolkit is vast and varied, giving you a range of deadly and non-lethal options. Oh, and the satisfaction of landing a headshot with a sleep dart from a rooftop? Chef’s kiss!

Mirage also tosses in a modern flavor with the “black box” quests, reminiscent of the intricate, well-crafted assassination scenarios like in some other popular games. These missions are your playground, with multiple routes, disguises, and social stealth options to get up close and personal with your target. It’s a delicious blend of planning, patience, and execution that leaves you craving for more. But let’s not forget the guards, the ever-vigilant thorns in our stealthy side. This latest release gives them a brain upgrade, making them more responsive and unpredictable when things go south. Trigger an alarm, and you’ll find them scouring hiding areas, changing patrol routes, and making your stealth mission feel like a high-stakes game of cat and mouse.

And the cherry on top is the game’s social stealth mechanics. To create a distraction, you can mingle with the crowd, hire pirates, or even give a coin or two to a musician – it’s all about using the environment and its inhabitants to your advantage. Every stealth tactic felt like a homage to the series’ roots, yet with a fresh twist that kept us on our toes. Mirage’s covet mechanics are a breath of fresh, shadowy air in a lineup that seemed to have lost its stealthy way in recent years. It’s a return to form, a stealth symphony orchestrated in the eerie silence of ancient nights, and a reminder of the unique thrill that comes from being the blade in the darkness.

Combat and Parkour

Mirage decided to take a stroll down memory lane, bringing back the classic sword-clashing combat, with a sprinkle of Valhalla’s group brawls. The feel is familiar yet refurbished, you’ve got your counter-kills, the sweet satisfaction of a successful parry in Assassin’s Creed Mirage, and the brutal finishers that remind you why the creed is feared. Sometimes the combat feels like it’s caught in a time warp, stuck between the fluid, choreographed kills of yore and the modern, mushy brawl-fests. The enemies at times seem to have attended the school of ‘how not to react to getting sliced,’ and the animations can get a bit…let’s say, strange. There’s also this weird glow on foes when they strike at you; it’s like they briefly turn into disco warriors before charging at you. It’s a far cry from the cinematic finesse we witnessed in Brotherhood.

Basim is attacking the enemy in Mirage.

The ability to scale walls, leap across rooftops, and flow through the urban jungle has always been the series’ parkour’s crowning achievement. In Mirage, the parkour has seen some tweaks, some good, some that’ll make you facepalm. The animations are gorgeous, capturing the fluidity and grace of a master assassin in motion. The developers have tried to recapture the magic, and at times, it’s a sight to behold.

But then comes the ‘Oh come on!’ moments. You know, when Basim decides to do a phantom leap, defying your controls, and plunging into the abyss below. Or when he hesitates on the edge, contemplating the meaning of life before making a jump. And who could forget the ‘parkour down’ control from Unity? It’s missed, like an old friend who’d help you descend in style rather than plummeting like a rock. It’s a mix of poetic motion and sudden stumbles that can either leave you in awe or in fits of rage. In AC Mirage, you will see a “go down” key sharing space with sneak mode, leading to a comedy of errors where you might find yourself crouching when you intend to descend, or vice versa. It’s like the game sometimes gets a bit too excited and forgets what you asked it to do.

Despite the hiccups, the essence of what makes Assassin’s Creed thrilling is there. The combat, with all its quirks, still has moments of brutal satisfaction, and the parkour, despite its occasional awkwardness, gives you a sense of freedom and fluidity. It’s a blend of nostalgic charm and brand-new mechanics, like an old tune with a modern beat. It’s clear that Mirage is a step, a leap, and a few sword swings toward recapturing the series’ famous days, with a few today’s lessons thrown into the mix.

The Beauty of Baghdad

Where do I even begin with the spectacle that is Baghdad in Assassin’s Creed Mirage? It’s like stepping into a meticulously crafted canvas where every stroke reveals the ancient charm and vibrancy of a bygone era. As I bounded across rooftops, the city below was a bustling tapestry of life, a blend of authentic architecture, vibrant marketplaces, and citizens going about their daily grind. It was like Ubisoft Bordeaux took a time machine back to 9th-century Baghdad, took notes, and then recreated it with a blend of love, artistry, and a sprinkle of modern gaming magic.

Basim on the high tower witnessing the stunning view of Baghdad.

The level of detail is just… awesome. Buildings adorned with ornate designs, markets that are a riot of colors and textures, and talks that float around in Arabic, immersing you in a living, breathing slice of history. It’s more than just a backdrop; it’s a character in its own right, setting the stage for your stealthy escapades.

Furthermore, the “History of Baghdad” codex entries are like the game’s way of inviting you on a historical treasure hunt, offering nibbles of rich lore and real historical tidbits as you parkour through the city. Each entry is a window into the past, a narrative intertwined with gameplay that makes exploring every nook and cranny of Baghdad an enlightening adventure. I mean, who knew a game could make you a history buff overnight?

The city isn’t just a static entity; it reacts to you, celebrates you, and at times, fears you. The interactions are nuanced, giving you a sense of being a part of a larger narrative that’s as complex and intriguing as the main storyline. And the highlight is the city itself, with its architectural grandeur and the sense of scale that makes you feel like a tiny speck in a vast, intricate world. It’s not just a setting; it’s a testament to the game’s ambition of melding history, culture, and gaming in a seamless way.

Narrative and Length

The narrative kicks off with a hearty dose of mystery and intrigue, putting us in the nimble shoes of Basim Ibn Ishaq, a name that rings a bell for those who’ve gallivanted through the Viking lands in Valhalla. The tale initially weaves around a creepy djinni haunting our assassin’s dreams, setting up a story that promises a deep dive into the abyss of the unknown. However, as you unsheathe your blade and step into the dusty streets of Baghdad, the narrative kinda takes a backseat, letting you immerse in the stealthy ballet but leaving the story-hungry among us a bit peckish.

The main narrative feels like a series of loosely tied investigations, each leading you to the doorstep of the Order members you’re looking for. It’s more like a sequence of deadly rendezvous rather than a tightly knitted tale. And the connection to Valhalla is like an unseen thread that ties the storyline to its Viking predecessor, which can feel a tad alienating if you haven’t sailed through the Norse saga. It’s a bit of a mixed bag; while the lore enthusiasts could find connections and nod to Valhalla intriguing, others might find it slightly jarring.

Now, fluttering over to the length of the game. The sands of time run out around the 20 to 25-hour mark, which, let’s be real, feels a bit on the shorter side, especially in a world where open-world sagas often promise (or threaten?) to gobble up days of our lives. The landscape of Mirage, as expansive and breathtaking as it is, sometimes yearns for more content to fill its vast expanse. There’s a bit of a tug-of-war between appreciating the focused narrative and craving for more adventures in the sunbaked lands of Baghdad. The lack of bloat, however, is like a breath of fresh air. Mirage steps away from the open-world checklist mantra, offering a more focused, less cluttered escapade which is kind of a rare gem in today’s open-world bonanza.

Mirage presents a narrative that’s like a series of well-crafted short stories, each with its own flavor of stealth and assassination. The length, while may not satiate the appetite of those hungry for a marathon, offers a sprint that’s packed with action, stealth, and a narrative that, while a bit scattered, has its moments of intrigue and connection to the larger Assassin’s Creed tapestry. It’s a dive back into the origins with a tale that flirts with the past and present, offering a secrecy adventure that’s as swift and sharp as the assassin’s blade.

Final Verdict

Assassin’s Creed Mirage takes us on a nostalgic jaunt back to the stealth-centric roots that once crowned this series the king of shadows. Now, it’s not all roses and smooth assassinations; there are some rough edges, but, there’s a heart of purpose beating in every slice and dice. The game shrinks down the grandiose map, trims down the loot buffet, and narrows down the combat and gear arsenal. And you know what? It’s like a breath of fresh air in a world where every open-world saga tries to stretch itself into lengthy hours of playing. The compact, focused approach of Mirage feels like a cleanse, letting us relish every stealthy step without wading through a swamp of endless side quests.

But the plot’s on the simpler side, and the ensemble of characters might not stick around in your memory for long. It’s a straightforward ride with a pace that zips along nicely, though lacking a bit in the rich tapestry of narrative we’ve seen in some of its behemoth siblings. But the quick tempo ensures you’re always on the move, always on the hunt, and never lost in tale limbo.

Onto the crown jewel is the city of Baghdad. It may not have that one jaw-dropping stunning instance, but it’s quite an amazing masterpiece. The city is a whisper of history with each lane and shack having a story to tell, and every shadow holds a secret. The focused detail makes each corner of this city a narrative in itself, a love letter to a time long past. Mirage is a title that beckons the lapsed Assassins back into the fold, offering a taste of the good ol’ days with a modern twist.

So, would I recommend Assassin’s Creed Mirage? Oh, you bet. Especially for those who’ve drifted from the creed, this is your call back to the shadows. It’s a sleek, purposeful stride into the realm of stealth, a refined blade amidst the arsenal of open-world adventures. Mirage may not have the grand scale of its predecessors, but it holds its head high with a focused, sneaky heart that beats true to the core of Assassin’s Creed. It’s a promising step, a hushed whisper of what once was, and a hopeful nod to the thrilling adventures yet to come.

Assassin's Creed Mirage Review: Stealth Reimagined
Assassin's Creed Mirage Review
Great 8
Our Score 8