|Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China Review|
Anyone who has played Klei’s Mark Of The Ninja will find a lot of familiar territory in Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China. Both are 2.5D side scrollers. Both place an emphasis on stealth but do have some combat mechanics. Both involve sneaking around, hiding, taking enemies unaware, and confronting them if necessary. Where Chronicles differs is that it puts the Assassins/Templars story into the mix and is quite a lot more difficult.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China tells the story of Shao Jun in 1526 who has been trained by the legendary Ezio Auditore. Keen fans of the Creed series may recall her appearing in the animated film, Assassin’s Creed Embers. This time around she is chasing a mysterious box stolen by the Templars which is suspected to contain a Piece Of Eden. These McGuffins are long standing key items in the series which were left behind by an ancient race and are key to saving the human race in the future.
One of the first things you will notice about this game is the gorgeously hand drawn artistic style for all the game-play as well as the story book cut-scenes. This gives the whole thing a great fantastical feel as everything is rendered in soft water colours and is very pleasing to look at from start to finish.
The majority of the game-play is quite similar to the aforementioned Mark Of The Ninja where you move through the levels either avoiding or eliminating enemies in your path. Some levels will contain environmental puzzles and some contain scripted scenes where you must escape the level within a time limit. While scripted scenes like this are tense and exciting sometimes it is unclear which way to go which will usually cause you to die and have to restart somewhat breaking the tension and immersion. Depending on how stealthy you are at the end of each level, you get a score and are awarded points which can be used to buy upgrades to your character and new equipment. Besides just getting through them and/or killing targets, levels also have extra bonus objectives like freeing prisoners which will net you more of these points.
Being an assassin you do have some special tricks up your sleeve. The trademark Eagle Vision of the assassins comes back once again in this game allowing you to see the paths that guards will take which puts you in a better position to evade their routes or get behind them to eliminate them entirely. You can also see the cones of vision that each guard has further aiding your path finding, timing and evasion. Having all these abilities would lead one to think this game is quite easy, but you would be wrong. It’s actually still quite difficult because the guards are very plentiful and have cleverly thought out paths that will make getting past them quite tricky especially when there are many of them around. Many sections, especially in the later game, will require careful planning and multiple attempts to get through. Sometimes it is all but impossible to get through completely undetected and you must run the risk of combat or being spotted and running away like a champion in the hope of losing your pursuers. There are also a small number of boss fights some of which are scripted events and some of which are free for all combat. Again, the scripted events are not always very obvious and can result in many deaths.
Unfortunately, some of the controls are less smooth and can be a little sticky at times causing incorrect climbing and falling when negotiating the landscapes as well as not always performing lethal take-downs when meant to. This can cause guards to be alerted instead of dying and combat to ensue. On the topic of combat, it is something that you preferably want to avoid if possible. It is possible if you are stubborn and persevere and have built your character towards offence, but it is heavily dissuaded as you can only take a couple of hits before dying. Blocking is possible, but also a little flaky and difficult to regularly get to work. The enemy skill levels as well as the damage they do ramp up quickly so taking them out with surprise/stealth is usually the best way as combat in later game is almost always suicide especially if there is more than one enemy involved.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China Review Summary
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China is one of the few games that does stealth and get it right so that it is not maddeningly frustrating to play. Long-time readers will know by now that normally, I am not a fan of stealth and prefer to brute my force through most stealth sections. For me, stealth is more often than not incredibly trial and error and results in countless retries any time you put one foot wrong which can get incredibly frustrating. However Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China and Mark Of The Ninja are two stealth based games that do stealth in a way that does not make me want to rip my own face off. Yes, you will fail and have to retry sections, but it is a lot less trial and error than most stealth games and if you are determined and ready for it, you can still fight your way out of situations if needs be. And this is the key difference between an enjoyable stealth game and an un-enjoyable one to me. Being able to successfully execute a plan B of killing your way out if needs be. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China makes executing this plan B challenging but definitely possible. I would recommend this game to any fans of stealth games or people who have previously tried stealth games and been over-frustrated by them. This one will be a lot more fun. I promise.
Final Score: 3/5
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China Review Let’s Play Footage