Ubisoft’s latest instalment in the Assassin’s Creed series, Mirage, ditches sprawling open worlds and convoluted RPG elements for a more focused, narrative-driven experience.
When the first Assassin’s Creed was released in 2007, it was the first of its kind to blend stealth and Parkour. There was a sense of freedom as you ran and jumped from rooftop to rooftop. Assassin’s Creed Mirage returns to its stealthy roots offering both long-time fans and newcomers a game that harkens back to the essence of the original Assassin’s Creed.
AC Mirage centres around Basim, a street-smart thief haunted by mysterious visions. His quest for answers leads him to The Hidden Ones, the ancient group later known as the Assassins.
Unlike previous titles that relied on experience points for progression, Mirage offers a streamlined, narrative-driven approach. The story arcs are pivotal in advancing Basim’s transformation from a fledgling rogue to a master assassin.
For long-time fans of the series, the game fleshes out Basim’s backstory (yes, he is the same Basim from AC Valhalla), offering an enriched context that also stands alone for newcomers.
The game’s narrative is embedded in the historically rich backdrop of 9th-century Baghdad, a bustling hub for traders, scholars, and adventurers. The city and its outskirts serve as a playground for Basim, offering varied biomes and plenty of gameplay opportunities.
The game leans into the city’s historical relevance, making it not just a setting but a character in its own right. Basim’s “Eagle Vision,” through his eagle companion Enkidu is essential for exploration and allows players to identify points of interest from above — just watch out for new archer types who can bring Enkidu down.
Mirage reverts back to the series’ original focus on stealth gameplay, elevating it as the most viable strategy. Combat is challenging and relies on Basim’s agility, encouraging players to parry and dodge rather than take on enemies head-on.
This is further emphasized by the fact that head-on combat is actually very clunky and should be avoided if possible. If the game wasn’t leaning into the stealth narrative, this would have been a big problem.
The game replaces the levelling system with Assassin ranks that you progress through by advancing the main story. Skill points are earned primarily through story completion and can be allocated in the Skill Tree to further customize Basim’s abilities.
For those with limited playing time, this also provides an episodic gaming experience.
The game narrows down its arsenal, focusing on stealth tools that are crucial for a successful mission. You can access these from your tool wheel, unlocking and upgrading them at the Assassin’s Bureau.
While the game has simplified its combat mechanics compared to previous titles, the added challenge makes each enemy encounter a calculated risk, requiring strategic planning and resource management.
Mirage introduces a novel feature that allows players to hire NPCs to create diversions, a creative workaround for the larger-scale combats seen in previous titles like Odyssey and Valhalla. This adds a layer of strategy and immersion, aligning closely with the game’s stealth emphasis.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage impresses with its focused approach and rich narrative. It strips away some of the bloat of its predecessors to deliver a refined, focused experience that both pays homage to and revitalizes the franchise’s core elements.
The game’s occasional narrative clichés are easily overshadowed by its well-designed gameplay mechanics and immersive setting. If you’re looking for a game that provides a focused Assassin’s Creed experience, Mirage is a step in the right direction.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is out now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.