Game review: Assassin’s Creed Mirage (PS5)
Nobody could have predicted how popular the Assassin’s Creed franchise would have been since the first game was released back in 2007 for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. I remember having fond memories of playing the first Assassin’s Creed game for hours after I graduated high school in the same year of its release.
From 2009 until 2015, the series became so popular that Ubisoft decided to release an Assassin’s Creed game every year. However, it wasn’t until the release of Assassin’s Creed Origins in 2017 did I felt the series started to lose its initial charm. This is because Origins got rid of most of the stealth mechanics in favour of a more action-RPG experience.
The bloated action-RPG direction of the series continued with the releases of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla in 2018 and 2020, respectively. Personally, these games were too long, and they didn’t feel like the Assassin’s Creed of old.
Thankfully, Ubisoft must have listened to the feedback because Assassin’s Creed Mirage is a return to its roots. This game feels most like the 2007 original because it’s shorter, has more stealth, and is much easier than the other recent AC games that were released.
The main problem I had with the recent Assassin’s Creed games was because their level-up system felt unfair. I remember doing many of the story-only quests, but I would still be unlevelled. Those games required you to do lots of sidequests in order to be on the recommended level all of the time.
Not to mention, those other Assassin’s Creed games had unnecessarily huge maps for some reason. It was a tedious bore travelling from one side of the map to the other in order to initiate the next mission!
In Assassin’s Creed Mirage, however, the city of Baghdad is much smaller, and travelling to the other side of the map doesn’t feel like a boring chore. The new game also gets rid of the levelling-up system in favour of you gaining more skills and abilities for the tools that you have in your arsenal.
The best new change, in my opinion, is the fact that you can easily kill most enemies with the strike of one blade, like in the older games. For example, the main character, Basim, has a hidden blade, and he can kill enemies with ease if he’s hidden in the shadows. He can even kill big, armoured bad guys with the hidden blade using stealth techniques.
The other recent AC games were annoying because stealth wasn’t an option, so you had to kill most enemies the hard way. All enemies seemed to have a large life bar, so killing them was long and tiresome if you weren’t levelled up properly…
The hidden blade isn’t the only weapon that Basim has to kill enemies in Mirage. Basim also has access to throwing knives and blow darts. These are limited, although you can use them to defeat an enemy from afar, which is pretty neat. The main weapon Basim wields, though, is a sword and dagger, and he needs this if he’s revealed during combat.
Sadly, the non-stealth gameplay in Assassin’s Creed Mirage still feels clunky and unsatisfying from my personal experience playing the game. It’s hard to explain, but the sword combat doesn’t feel as fast and swift as it does in Ninja Gaiden or Ghosts of Tsushima. I dreaded every time I was spotted, so I strictly played stealthily to try and avoid the mediocre combat system altogether.
While I was disappointed with the combat, I was more interested in Assassin’s Creed Mirage’s short but engaging story. Basim, at the beginning of the game, is just a petty thief; however, he is then accused of murder when an attempted robbery goes wrong. He joins the League of Assassins shortly after this when his home is ruined and many of his friends are murdered.
His main goal is to kill a group of bad guys who call themselves The Order. Much like the older games, there are no long boss fights for you to endure. Every member of The Order can be killed with one slice of a blade if you’re able to approach them without being seen. You truly feel like an assassin in this game when you can kill people from the shadows!
Another thing that I like about this game is that it has a short length. Unlike Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which required you to play 60 hours to finish its story, the main campaign in Mirage is only 12 to 13 hours long. If you want to 100% the game, you’re looking at around 25 or 30 hours of gameplay, which is far more manageable than before.
Graphically, Mirage’s depiction of Baghdad looks accurate, and you don’t have to travel long distances in order to get to the other side of the map. The only thing that looks a little off is the outdated-looking character models. The character models aren’t as ugly as the ones in Starfield, but they’re still not up to current-gen standards, especially for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X owners.
Aside from clunky combat and funny-looking character models, I have to say Assassin’s Creed Mirage is great because it’s a stealth game. If you didn’t like the newer AC games, you might appreciate Mirage more because it feels like the older games in the series.