Today, I’m writing this Assassin’s Creed Mirage review from the perspective of someone who hasn’t played an Assassin’s Creed game before or doesn’t typically enjoy stealth gameplay. Honestly, I only gave it a shot because a friend of mine actually worked on the game.
Even so, I didn’t quite know what to expect, as I barely saw any trailers or images of the game. So, when I finally got my hands on it, I was pleasantly surprised. The first hour did a fantastic job of hooking me in with its strong visuals, engaging narrative, and introduction to the core gameplay that would ultimately lead me to play this game almost to completion.
You Bested Me. Yet, I’m The One Left Standing.
You’ll spend most of your time running across the rooftops of Baghdad, pickpocketing everyone you can and stealthily maneuvering your way into assassinations, all while seeking out loot and drawing your blade and dagger when the situation calls for it.
While you can choose to strictly follow the story, exploring proves to be highly rewarding. This is especially true when you need to revisit a place you’ve been before during a mission.
Having already unlocked all doors of a certain place, significantly expedited the process of completing specific story missions or contracts. And, during your exploration, you’ll come across gear consisting of armor, weapons, upgrade schematics for your same gear, and materials for further enhancements.
Although there isn’t an extensive variety of armor or weapons, I appreciated each one and found a use for all of them at some point.
Additionally, you have the option to equip various outfits that essentially serve as skins for your gear, and most of them can be obtained by completing missions around Baghdad, but others can only be purchased from the Ubisoft shop. The pricing is quite steep, and it’s hard to justify the price.
If a game costs 50€, it’s incomprehensible that a skin for that same game would cost 10€. My advice is to steer clear of these microtransactions.
While armor and gear provide a range of different abilities that can be mixed and matched, a master Hidden One also possesses an array of tools like the throwing knife, smoke bomb, and more.
When I initially started, I invested all my resources into the throwing knife to facilitate my assassination, as I unlocked and experimented with other tools, I found them to be useful at various points.
However, I was so accustomed to using just the throwing knife that I couldn’t bring myself to use other tools as effectively. Nevertheless, I had a great deal of fun with the sleeping darts!
To further amplify your assassin abilities, there’s a small skill tree where each new branch you pursue will certainly have a notable impact on your gameplay. This includes enhancing your eagle vision, pickpocketing, or acquiring more tool upgrades.
Personally, since I was eager to collect something called Dervi’s Artifacts, which required precise pickpocketing skills, I opted to rush through a branch that would make the task easier. It genuinely streamlined my experience and proved to be a lucrative endeavor.
Beyond the main missions, there are side contracts that will reward you with materials for your gear or even skill points to invest in new abilities.
These tasks range from simple assassinations to escorts and rescues, among others. While they were entertaining initially, the repetition set in when the context changed but the core action remained the same.
Fortunately, there are numerous approaches you can take for each task, thanks to the variety of tools and abilities at your disposal at any given time.
However, one aspect you’ll consistently have at your disposal and should utilize at all times is Basim’s incredible parkour skills! While it’s not flawless, I always found enjoyment in climbing, jumping, and running across the many buildings and palaces of Baghdad.
At every turn, you’ll find a path that leads you to where you need to be, enhancing your speed and fluidity. But sometimes even, the flashier parkour moves or stealthy approach will fail and you’ll see yourself in battle and it’s in that moment that you’ll see why combat should be your last measure.
When fighting a single enemy you’ll have no trouble. You can either dodge when the enemy flashes red providing an opening to attack or parry when it flashes yellow to parry and perform a one-hit finisher.
More enemies make the process of dodging and parrying much harder and enemies can hit hard. Some even have armor meaning you can only strike them from the back with your sword.
Also, they don’t stagger or react to your first hits as if telling you that you should be waiting for those visual queues and react accordingly which can make the combat feel a bit shallow at times.
Nonetheless, the core gameplay is fun and maybe the strongest point of this game, although the next segment is nothing short of it
Graphics and Visuals
I’m going to be short and direct in this segment. Assassin’s Creed Mirage is stunning, with amazing art direction. The streets of Baghdad are very well designed, accommodating the parkour elements fantastically, and there are a ton of NPCs walking around that make the city feel alive.
However, the facial expressions of most of these NPCs and even the vast cast of characters you can interact with can be a bit uncanny! Still, everything else is exceptionally pleasing to the eye, making up for this minor drawback.
As for the UI, I found it very intuitive. Navigating through menus, managing inventory, and accessing essential information felt fluid and user-friendly! However, at some point, I found some of those elements a bit intrusive while exploring Baghdad, so I decided to turn them off by using the many accessibility options the game has to offer the player.
Story and Narrative (spoiler free):
The first opening hour really got me hooked. While the premise isn’t innovative, it worked like a charm to keep me invested in this game’s story until the very end.
I really liked Basim as a character and seeing him go from a street thief to a Master Assassin while hunting the Order Members and solving the mysteries surrounding him.
However, the characters supporting Basim’s character could be a bit more present since sometimes I felt he wasn’t enough to drive the narrative forward which reached its climax quite abruptly. Leaving me with some questions about the fate of some characters.
And, for someone who hasn’t played an Assassin’s Creed game, the ending was very weird and confusing but in a good way because it made me want to play the previous games to understand better the spectacle that I played before me.
While the main story was captivating, I can’t say the same about what they call Tales of Baghdad. Throughout the map, there’s a scarce amount of interactable NPCs with side quests, and they are lacking a bit. I can probably remember one that I found more memorable than the rest narrative-wise, but that’s it.
Replayability and Content:
To me, Assassin’s Creed: Mirage is just the right size for a 30-year-old dad working an 8-hour job. By the end, I clocked around 30 hours, and if I played it for about 5 more, I might’ve completed the game.
However, once I do it, that’s it; there’s nothing else to do except start a new save file. Adding a New Game+ where you can start a new game with all of your gear would be amazing for replayability!
Performance and Technical Aspects:
I don’t play Ubisoft games that much, but I’ve seen the jokes about the jank in their games. Unfortunately, Assassin’s Creed Mirage isn’t an exception to the rule.
I encountered a bug where my character got stuck a couple of times and another where the game crashed just by trying to equip something more than once.
While they didn’t happen often, I lost progress at least 2 times during my entire playthrough on Xbox Series S. Right now, I’m just hoping they fix some of them soon!
In the end, despite all the faults the game has from technical issues, uncanny facial expressions, and a not-very-strong narrative I feel like this was a great introduction to the Assassin’s Creed franchise.
I’ll always remember how great it felt parkouring on the rooftops of Bagdad while finding ways to break into guarded buildings, and having fun strategizing my next assassination.
I truly feel that Ubisoft Bordeaux managed to do something special here bringing to life a game that caters to the fans of the early Assassin’s Creed games, other stealth game enthusiasts, and even newcomers to the franchise like myself.