Assassins Creed Mirage Review – A Forced Return?

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Ubisoft’s much-looked-forward return to the roots of its franchise Assassin’s Creed was planned with the release of Assassins Creed Mirage. It was released earlier this month to mixed reviews from fans and critics and is currently sitting at 77 on Metacritic.

Before the release of Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Ubisoft premised it as a short, narrative-focused title with a 50 US dollar price tag. It was meant as a break from the RPG formula that Ubisoft shifted to for its previous three Assassin’s Creed games. Assassins Creed Mirage focuses on the backstory of Basim who was introduced in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Ubisoft confirmed it will be a standalone title, and fans do not have to play Valhalla before Mirage.

For these reasons, I was excited to play Assassins Creed Mirage as fans have been waiting for shorter and less bloated Assassin’s Creed titles to return for a while. For those wondering, the game took me around 18-19 hours to end, with the platinum trophy stretching the playtime to about 25 hours.

Assassins Creed Mirage

While the game starts pretty strong, with the tutorial sessions and then the training to become a Hidden One. These sections were narratively paced to be focused and did not have you deal with the usual Ubisoft open-world formula. At this point, I quite liked the game especially because of the emotionally packed story that was the main focus of these hours. To give some context, Basim is a pickpocket thief who works with his friend Nehal to survive a poor life in Baghdad. Like the standard protagonist, Basim yearns to do something more and escape this loop. The solution to him was to join the Hidden Ones for whom he has been completing different contracts. The game puts into play Basim’s nightmares with a jinni that seems all too realistic to him at times.

Gameplay Struggles:

Assassins Creed Mirage starts to struggle, the moment it puts you back into Baghdad after your training with the Hidden Ones has completed. The game seems to rehash the Far Cry model while slightly repainting it for the AC franchise. You have to do menial tasks that lead to investigations into the members of The Order. Once you have even clues, then you can assassinate The Order member / the head of the region. By choosing this gameplay, Mirage’s narrative structure is broken into pieces. The linear narrative story that we were promised is sacrificed in turn for these gameplay mechanics.

Glitched Combat:

Mirage’s combat is very simplistic and pushes you to resort to stealth assassinations instead of charging head-on like the raids in AC Valhalla. In melee combat, you use your sword to to fight but can also resort to combat tools like smoke bombs (which I recommend investing in/buying early), and throwable knives that if used right can give you an edge when facing multiple foes. Enemy variety is very limited with their attacks being limited to blockable or unblockable. The players can choose to parry enemies with a comfortable window to do so, which can open up enemies to instant kill attacks. After spending, around 25 hours with the game, the combat loop did not interest me anymore although it was fun to fiddle with at the start as it was hard with the player not having access to the right tools.

Assassins Creed Mirage

Skill Tree and Tools:

Unlike Valhalla’s behemoth of a skill tree, Ubisoft chose to use a minimalistic skill tree for Mirage. Earning and spending skill points on this tree feels rewarding because you feel the effects in your gameplay which I felt was the issue with Valhalla. Basim’s new ability Focus Assassination which fans were skeptical of is pretty nifty to use. Aside from being a combat tool, it can be used to infiltrate enemy strongholds with its teleportation ability. The ability also doesn’t break the game much because you have to first do stealth assassinations to fill the focus bars. Combat tools can be bought and upgraded at Assassin Bureaus, but aside from the throwing knife and smoke bombs, I did not find much use for the tools except to fulfil requirements for the platinum trophy. I would recommend players invest in phantom and trickster trees at the start to get the master pickpocket skill and to increase Focus assassination slots to 5 which can make combat encounters much easier.

Assassins Creed Mirage

A Beautiful Setting:

The main highlight of Mirage is its beautiful Baghdad setting which the game does justice to. The world is splendid to parkour in both day and night. Areas have been made perfectly to sync with smooth parkour that AC Unity fans might find solace in. Aside from being superb to gaze at, the world of AC Mirage has a lot of activities going on in its town districts, bazaar districts and others where players can lose themselves for some time. The city of Baghdad looks but moreso feels lived in with the short closed-off streets packed with people gossiping or merchants shouting in its bazaar district. One of the best parts is the showcase of Muslim culture which made me appreciate the game due to accurate representation. Although parkour is easy to perform and is fun to do, the world just does not have the intractability that I would have hoped to do when running from guards on rooftops, or even trying to blend in with crowds when hiding because some of Mirage’s stealth mechanics simply don’t work perhaps because developers could only customise their rpg engine to a certain extent.

Mismatch of Ideas?

Perhaps, the biggest issue that Assassins Creed Mirage falls into is its need to cling to the RPG mechanics while simultaneously trying to bring back the series’ renowned stealth mechanics. Mirage tries to incorporate the stealth mechanics that made the franchise popular without trying to do any improvisation and using them barebone with the popular but detested RPG mechanics which, makes for a bitter soup. Ubisoft’s unexplainable clinginess to connect its games is what ruined the story of Mirage too by making the ending incomprehensible for those yet to play Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

However, after the release of Mirage, it seems to be clear that this game was just meant to be a stub between future AC projects that will delve more deeply into the RPG formula that found them financial success.

Special thanks to Aly Khan for providing screenshots to use for the review.

For those looking to roam the streets of Baghdad, Assassins Creed Mirage is available to purchase at the following retailers:

Amazon – Assassin’s Creed Mirage – Launch Edition – PS4

BestBuy – Assassin’s Creed Mirage Standard Edition – PlayStation 5

If you have already completed the game but are left puzzling together the ending like many others then do take help from our ending explainer, in which we untangle this trainwreck.

Zain Raza
Zain Raza
Zain's gaming passion started with the PSP era. He has been a PlayStation fan from the start and loves narrative driven single-player games. He dabbles into all things pop culture.

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