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Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India / 24th of January 2016

For me, Climax’s last attempt at creating a 2.5D Assassin’s Creed game was something of an unexpected, but welcome success, blending highly stylised, painterly visuals with a solid mix of platforming and stealth-action gameplay. Unsurprisingly then, I was actually rather hopeful that this, the second instalment in the planned trilogy, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India, would actually be able to retain the character and playability of the last effort, and with any luck, perhaps even improve upon the established formula. Unfortunately, as it turns out, I was wrong, very wrong…

You see, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is a misstep, and a big one at that, from the visuals to the core gameplay, which is now completely blighted by archaic, instant-fail missions and inaccurate controls. In fact, it’s just so damn disappointing that it is not only the worst game I’ve played in 2016 (obviously), but one of the most irksome and downright frustrating games I’ve played in recent years. It has even been stripped of the charm that the first game had in abundance thanks to its visual design, which was able to perfectly capture the feeling and beauty of its locales, India, however, does not. Sure one possibly could argue that the influx of colour is a good thing, but you’d be wrong, because this game simply does not capture the imagination in the same way that its predecessor did as it blatantly lacks that authenticity. In short, it’s just rather insipid.

In terms of storytelling though, India is just as hopeless as China was, with it spinning some yarn about an impending war forming the backdrop to a by-the-numbers escapade to discover some lost Assassin artefact, and there may also be a vague semblance of a love story in there somewhere. All of this is almost brought to life with a series of tiresome cut-scenes full of terrible voice acting, so really, in terms of its narrative, India is neither up nor down in comparison to Climax’s previous game. We can only hope that the final part, Russia, has had a bit more effort put into it, but considering that it releases next month, the chances are rather slim to say the least.

Where this series certainly excels over its bloated 3D brethren is in its simplicity, with simple platforming action that allows the lead character to generally display an athleticism that has simply not been possible in the last two or three main releases. However, all is certainly not perfect here either as there are a vast array of context sensitive controls (perhaps too much) that often fail to work correctly, and the game’s basic functionality - such as jumping or running - can also end up causing problems. Personally, I found that on several occasions I would find myself jumping out into the open as I vainly attempt to simply move through the cover of a bush. This would consistently lead to me being spotted by a guard and forced to reload my last checkpoint, which is perhaps the game’s biggest flaw of all; it never really seems to garner any momentum.


Gameplay is start-stop throughout, either from control mishaps, or terrible, instant-fail missions. Climax seem intent on punishing players overly so as well, either through this or forcing them into combat scenarios and stripping them of their ability to earn decent scores come the end of the area. Thankfully, combat itself isn’t too bad though, it being a simple mixture of light and heavy attacks that manage to keep the action flowing smoothly enough, but it certainly could have been better, which pretty much sums up the experience as a whole. It’s just all so generic, every gamer has seen it all before, and that’s a real shame because I honestly thought that China showed real potential, and provided the best Assassin’s Creed experience in years.

Additionally, playing stealthily requires an abundance of patience, with guards typically following long winded movement patterns that force the player to simply stand around waiting for extended periods of time. The AI is so weak that they don’t deviate from these routines, which is a pity as it would have been nice to see the gameplay become a tad more reactive to the player’s activities, though I may be hoping for too much. Still, we can always hope that Russia will rectify some of these wrongs, though I certainly wouldn’t hold my breath.

On a positive note though, pricing seems to be reasonably fair, with it coming in at just £7.99 as opposed to the £16 price point that seems to be the favourite of indie developers these days, so for some, it may very well be worth picking up regardless. However, with its shoddy mechanics, poor level design and dreadful AI, I still wouldn’t recommend it. Poor show, Climax, poor show.
James Paton
 
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