Assassin’s Creed Chronicles is a game series, separated in three parts, that will tell us the story of three different assassins.
This Assassin’s Creed Chronicles review will only cover the first part of the series, called Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China. The release date for the game was set on the 21th of April, for the Americas region, and for the 22nd of April, for the Australian and European regions. Ubisoft also said that two more Chronicles will follow, the first one will be set in 19th century India, during the Sikh Empire, and the other one in Russia, after the Red October revolution.
All of the chronicles will be priced at $10 each, while for the owners of Assassin’s Creed Unity Season Pass, ACC: China is available for free.
The first game of the series follows the story arc of the last remaining Assassin of the Chinese Brotherhood, named Shao Jun. The action is set in the 16th century, as Shao returns home to avenge the death of her Brotherhood.
The game looks fantastic, with beautiful, vivid colors, that seems more like a watercolor painting than a game. The developers captured the style of 16th century China very well and the lush brush strokes compliments this two and a half dimensional world.
However, looks, although important, are not everything. The game’s story seems a little bland, while its gameplay is repetitive and boring.
The story begins as the leader of a corrupt group, called the Tigers, destroys the Chinese Brotherhood of Assassins. Now, the Tigers run everything in China and only emerge from the shadows when they feel the need. With their “puppet” occupying the emperor’s seat, they spread chaos and tyranny all over the land.
Nothing seems to be able to stop them, at least until Shao Jun shows up. She is the new leader of the Assassins and with a burning desire for revenge, she returns home to free China from the Tigers tyranny.
The game starts with Shao supposedly being captured by her enemies, but this is nothing more than a ruse, meant to allow our heroine to strike from deep within Tigers own defenses.
The development of the story is made with still images and voice-overs, but these cut-scenes are as dull as they can be, while the voice acting adds little excitement to the story.
The first cut-scene introduces you to one of Shao’s main objective, which is to steal back a small box from the Tigers. This quest was particularly annoying to me, because I never got the know the role of this box in the war, or why exactly was I hunting it down. Instead, I got to watch it juggling back and forward between the two factions, that for some unknown reason desired it equally. With each passing minute of the game I found myself caring less and less for the characters and by the time I was done, I was bored out of my mind by the story. Because of that I relied more on the game’s gameplay, that I’ve enjoyed a lot at the beginning, but as time went on, even that got repetitive and altogether unimpressive.
After the game starts in the Tigers underground prison, Jen escapes her cage and steps into the caverns, that are filled with patrols. She has no weapon to fight them off, so she has to use stealth and distraction in order to get through.
One of your main tools in your kit, is the ability to whistle, which will allow you to distract the guards. The vision of each enemy is set by a yellow vision cone, so you will have no problem seeing in which direction they are looking at. You must use the whistle ability and carefully plot and navigate your way through the stage without being seen. However, if a patrolman is looking at you, then you will have a very short period of time to find cover, because once the vision cone turns red, then the enemy will make their way to your position and start to systematically hunt you down.
Staying out of sight is not really a problem in ACC: China, because the game’s levels are packed with different hiding points, including crevices, moving crowds and doorways. These hiding spots are also excellent locations for assassinating your opposition and stashing their bodies without anyone noticing your actions.
While you progress through the first levels, you will unlock additional tools for your Assassin’s kit. You can use firecrackers, throwing knives and noise darts, to ease your way through the enemy’s forces, but try not to overuse them, because ammunition is limited per level, and you might find yourself in a position where you need them, but you are out off ammo, as it happened to me in more than one occasion.
Depending on how you perform in each level, you will unlock new abilities for Shao Jun. After every checkpoint, you will get a rating score, that goes from bronze to gold, with gold being the most difficult to achieve, because you’ll have to get through the opposition without being seen at all, while bronze is the lowest rating you can get, but don’t worry, even the best assassins get clumsy from time to time.
The rating system is a rather good addition to the game, because it adds a feeling of accomplishment, especially when you manage to get the gold rating. In order to do that, you need to be very patient and carefully plan every move that you make. One single mistake will drop you down to the silver rating.
If you are not a high-score type of person, then you can go in “guns blazing” and kill everyone you encounter, but remember to doge and parry as you slash your way through the evil Tigers.
There is a total number of 12 levels in Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China, and every time you complete a level, the next one will be more difficult. Each stage looks different, but the gameplay is the same, even if you have all of your tools unlocked. All you do is progress from one screen to the next without being seen and killing, or not, a few guards in the process.
At first I was trying to be very creative and sneaky, and had a lot of fun disposing the opposition, but by my 150th kill I couldn’t care less if they spotted me or not. Without a compelling story, I found myself powering through the game, without any regards for the score, wishing it will be over soon so I can move on to more exciting activities.
After a while, the only levels that interested me at all, were the ones where you have to run away from fires, or collapsing buildings. During these areas, you also have the option to slide under unsuspecting enemies and cut them open with the tip of your blade. After so much stealth and deception, this is a somewhat satisfying experience. These levels need to be completed in a limited period of time, so you’ll have no time for sightseeing and you’ll need to move quickly, before the given hazard catches up with you.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China is a very appealing game, from a style point of view, but fails when it comes to its repetitive gameplay and uninteresting and stale story. I must admit that I had fun with it at the beginning, but as I was progressing through the levels, that quickly changed to boredom. I think that it could have been a better game if they had added more variation to the game mechanics, or at the very least, if they had created an interesting story in which you can lose yourself.
- Nice art-style.
- Good and fun initial gameplay.
- Interesting concept.
- Stale and uninteresting story.
- Repetitive gameplay mechanics.