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Review: Assassin’s Creed: Chronicles – China

From the moment it was clear that the Assassin’s Creed franchise was here to stay, fans from over the world start fantasizing about possible locations. Japan and China were often mentioned as most desired by those fans, but their voices were never heard. Until know. In Assassin’s Creed: Chronicles, you’ll be able to visit China for the first time. It’s not a classic Assassin’s Creed game but it’s by far the most stylized version of China you’ll ever see.

Welcome to China

So this game is, obviously, set in China. We enter China during the 16th century and play as female assassin Shao Jun, known from the animated Assassin’s Creed Ember movie. Shao Jun is a former concubine, trained by Ezio Auditore. She let the Templars capture her out of free will. Why? To be as close to the enemies as possible. Shao carries a mysterious box with her, a box that can’t fall in the Templar’s hands.

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Aside of protecting the box, Shao is also on a quest for revenge. The entire Assassin’s Creed order has been wiped away by Templars. Shao wants to kill the generals, also known as Tigers, responsible for his. Her quest for vengeance takes her to several beautiful locations throughout China.

Paint brush environments

You’ll spend most of your time in Beijing but later on in the game, you’ll also visit key locations such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. Every location you visit is very beautiful thanks to the new art style. The entire game is created to look like old Brush artwork found in the 16th century in China. We can only say that this style works perfect for the game. It’s a rather dark game but red plays an important role in it.

The color red marks interesting paths for you to discover but also serves as blood of your enemies. Since it’s Brushwork, you won’t always see where colors end or start but it’s this specific style that transform this Assassin’s Creed game into a complete new experience. Some might be disappointed that they won’t see a realistic China but this style works even better in our opinion.

Goodbye 3D graphics 

In addition to the new look, the game also separates itself from other Assassin’s Creed games thanks to the 2.5D experience. This isn’t a 3D game like you’re used to. This is a 2D side-scroller with extra layers in the background. At first sight it looks like a very easy and cheap game but the longer you play, the more details you’ll notice. This game truly takes advantage of the powerful hardware. Think of a classic Prince of Persia game with the power of this generation.

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What about the gameplay

Aside of the way the game looks, it also plays differently compared to other Assassin’s Creed games. The main goal of the game is to reach the finish line at the end of the level. Most levels are rather straightforward, so getting lost is out of the question.

The real challenge is to stay hidden from guards. Shao Jun is a trained assassin but one on one combats aren’t really her style. Trying to defeat guards head on will often end in a desynchronisation. This game needs a more sneaky approach to finish.

Get passed the guards

Every level is divided into smaller pieces where you’ll need to get passed enemies. You can hide yourself in several places such as dark rooms, behind curtains, behind pillars and many more. Hiding is crucial if you want to survive. The best way possible to clear a level is to sneak passed guards without being noticed by them.

 

Embrace the change

 

In case the guards do notice you, they’ll ring an alarm bringing in back up. You can then hide and hope for the alarm to switch off. If this happens you get another shot at clearing the way. To make things a little easier for you, you’ll always see the line of sight of your enemies. If you’re able to stay away from their line of sight, you’re safe to go. Aside of this you also got different distraction tools. Whistle to lure a guard to your position, stun them with a firecracker, throw a knife or throw a distraction noise dart. All four distractions are important tools to make it out alive.

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It’s not forbidden to engage in combat but as said before you often end up dead. Assassinating enemies one by one without them noticing you is a better tactic. These assassinations demand skill and precision work but are very satisfying if you succeed. To make things interesting, you’ll always gain new skills after you complete a sequence. Those skills are important to stay alive but also make you stronger and better at hiding.

Variation is key 

Thanks to your new skills, the game never gets boring. It always asks the same of you but thanks to new skills and tougher enemies you’re always up for a challenge until the very end of the game. The game introduces new hiding places and new type of enemies on a regular basis so you’ll always find some new tricks to perform. It’s this kind of variation that saves this game from becoming too much of the same.

Aside of the regular levels you’ll sometimes end up in a more action-packed level where you’ll need to escape the environment as fast as possible. Needless to say, those are some of the best levels and offer a great challenge and feeling of satisfaction afterwards.

A true Assassin’s Creed game

So the gameplay has changed and it’s more of a stealth game now but it houses some traditional Assassin’s Creed elements as well of course. You’ll be able to find hidden Animus pieces and scrolls all over the map, so collectors can search for those everywhere. Aside of these, the leap of faith and Eagle Vision also make a return. The Eagle Vision is still very important to locate enemies or key targets and it can unlock a complete map of the level so you’ll never get lost.

All in all we can say that Chronicles made a lot of changes but never lost track of its roots. It’s a different way of playing but it still is a true Assassin’s Creed game for sure.

Conclusion:

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China delivers what we asked for years, a trip to China as an assassin. It’s a different type of game but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. It won’t take that long to complete, since it’s a DLC game but it keeps you motivated until the very end. It offers a new and fresh look at the franchise and even manages to tie up some loose ends. It’s a great start for the Chronicles saga and we can’t wait to play the sequel with another assassin, set in another environment. Embrace the change and enjoy the ride.

8/10

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.