The next installment of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Chronicles series, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India, has an expansive new trailer that goes deep into the game’s story and new mechanics for a brand new Assassin.
I find it rather ironic that one of the big details that came from yesterday’s leak of Assassin’s Creed: Empire, consisting of a new adventure in ancient Egypt, was that Ubisoft was “skipping” 2016 as part of a breakaway from its tradition of yearly Assassin’s Creed releases. You know, because they aren’t skipping 2016 at all – in fact, there are two Assassin’s Creed games coming in 2016. Just not the big ones.
What’s the line from Contact? “Why build one, when you can build two for twice the price?”
Indeed, after the bizarre experiment in including an entirely new game inside a season pass that was Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China, the start of a 3-D action platformer sub-series of the large action franchise, we are getting two more games in the Chronicles line in early 2016, only weeks apart. Those games will take us to India and Russia, respectively – and it is the India set one coming first that we have a brand new trailer to discuss.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India follows the adventures of Master Assassin Arbaaz Mir in India circa 1841 – a time where tensions between the secular Sikh Empire and the British East India Trading Company were rising fast. Mir’s journey to track down a Templar with a stolen Assassin artifact will take him across India, and place the love of his life in danger. Gameplay wise, it looks extraordinarily similar to Chronicles: China with the addition of several specific-to-India weapons and gadgets. The famous Chakram, a circular throwing weapon, is highlighted most prominently in the trailer as a stealth weapon, object destroyer, and efficient distraction technique to get around guards. The more heightened style of China also appears – Mir actively teleports around guards in a mystical blur, and the characters move with a cartoonish affect, both in the real world and in the game’s “Challenge Rooms,” where heightened difficult and abstract environments rule.
And in that regard, I cannot help but still be slightly disappointed with the use of India, and indeed China and Russia, in this series. Though the proposed Assassin’s Creed: Empire represents a welcome change in setting, the Assassin’s Creed series has been primarily concerned with West ever since Assassin’s Creed II and with the exception of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. It has rendered those Western worlds with extraordinary detail, but the series has refused to explore a rarely seen environment in quite some time. We’ve seen the French Revolution, we know the American colonies, there have been absurd numbers of games set in the pirate Carribbean and Victorian England. And none of those entries justified their familiar worlds with significant advances in the wider series story – Assassin’s Creed has been spinning its wheels for years. The original appeal of Assassin’s Creed was the completely alien (to video games) nature of Templar-era Jerusalem and the Middle East. The Renaissance was a trick that only worked once. The wheel spinning of the central plot would work if it were attached to the most interesting settings imaginable – and yet, fitting candidates for this like China, India, and Russia are wasted on side-series games, with less serious historical detail.
Empire appears to swing this balance back in the right direction – Egypt is the most interesting place Assassin’s Creed has gone since the first game. But the words of Contact ring. “Why build one, when you can build two for twice the price?” Why take the time on familiar worlds for wheel spinning entries like Rogue and, yes, Syndicate, instead of these fascinating locals?
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India comes to Xbox One, PS4, and PC on January 12.