The Assassin’s Creed 2D-esque spin-off trilogy series got off to a somewhat rocky start with its first installment, but Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India makes a valiant effort to get the side-scroller back on the right track. The stealth puzzler isn’t nearly as big or sprawling as the installments in the main franchise, but tough puzzles and solid parkour mechanics make Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India worthwhile for fans of the franchise.
For gamers unfamiliar with the latest series of Assassin’s Creed spin-offs, this trilogy takes on the identity of a 2.5D side-scroller with some 3D aspects. Each installment takes players to a different location and puts them in control of a brand new protagonist. This time around the protagonist is Arbaaz Mir and the assassin is dodging patrols and zip-lining around India.
The game’s setting is the first of many features that help this follow-up stand out from its predecessor. While Chronicles: China was dark and lacked much in the way of aesthetic appeal, Chronicles: India is gorgeous and every backdrop and foreground pops with life and color. The game does an amazing job at making the 2.5D setting feel alive and brilliant. Colonial India is a fantastic setting that is beautiful to stare at while trying to crack the trick to each puzzle.
The game’s mechanics are built around stealth, parkour, and combat. Players control Mir as he attempts to navigate his way passed armed patrols, guard animals, and other prying eyes as a political romance plays out. The game’s narrative isn’t the best that the franchise has to offer, but the sparse use of cut scenes ensures that the subpar story doesn’t drag players out of the game’s world very often. Players can still learn more details about the world by picking up and investigating items during their adventure, similar to the main Assassin’s Creed franchise, but this is unlikely to be of much interest to players who aren’t history buffs or lore fanatics.
The meat of the game comes from the puzzles that Mir is presented with. Players repeatedly need to use a combination of stealth skills and parkour to dodge patrols and stay out of site while exploring the world. Unlike the main series, players are railroaded towards each encounter in Chronicles and must study patrol patterns and line of sight before making a move. New skills and items become available as the game progresses and eventually the whole arsenal of tactics will be needed to clear the more difficult screens.
The game’s puzzles are surprisingly challenging, but frequent auto saves help ensure that failures aren’t more frustrating than they need to be. Mir can’t take many hits or be seen for very long before the mission is failed and players are sent back to the last checkpoint, so players who rush in headstrong won’t find much success. The use of parkour to stay out of sight is very well done, but as new skills are learned it’s possible that some players may start to feel overwhelmed. Buttons take on different functions depending on what position the player is in, so things are a little confusing until players sync with the rhythm of the game.
Although Asssassin’s Creed Chronicles: India highly discourages combat, sometimes Mir has to thrown down to make it passed an obstacle. It’s a shame that the game emphasizes and rewards the pacifism technique, because the combat system is actually very slick. Much like the parkour, players need to find a rhythm, but once that is achieved the simple dodge, light attack, heavy attack combat feels very fluid and exciting.
One of the benefits of the mostly 2D setting is that players don’t run into some of the frustrating awkwardness that comes along with the usual Assassin’s Creed open-world experience in terms of parkour and combat. There’s no accidentally running up a building when you are trying to run through an alley in Chronicles and it’s always clear which goon you are about to land a strike on. The simple side-scrolling layout makes the action crisp and clear and eliminates the confusion that so often leaves Assassin’s Creed players screaming at the television.
In terms of 2.5D stealth games, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India may not live up to recent titles like Stealth Inc., but the game definitely offers enough challenging puzzles to be worth the $9.99 price tag. Dedicated fans of the Assassin’s Creed franchise will get more out of the title thanks to the lore, but it’s worth a play-through for anyone who likes to solve a good stealth puzzle.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PS4 code for this review.