Way back in 2015 Ubisoft decided to take the Assassin’s Creed franchise down a new route, moving away from the usual open world affairs of the blockbusting series to a more linear, side-scrolling platformer, giving gamers access to the first of three titles in a trilogy of games – Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China. That was then followed by Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India in January 2016, before concluding the project with a trip to Russia a little later. Today it is the middle child we take a look at, going back in time to 2016 and revisiting the sneaky style of Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India

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Now, the way that these games differed from the “mainstream” Assassin’s games of the time – games like Assassin’s Creed Unity – was in the presentation. Gone was the 3D open world of the main entries in the series, and instead there was almost a side-scrolling platformer in its place. There was a pretty cool 2.5D mechanic in play, which allowed you to hop into the background to escape the gaze of any guards, stealthily working your way through the land. Indeed, working within this mechanic was a good part of the game’s appeal, for me at least. You see, in a perfect world, it was possible to run through a level without any combat whatsoever, and while this may seem counterintuitive for a tooled up Assassin killing machine, it was actually more of a challenge to run the Chronicles titles that way. Plotting the routes of the guards, dashing from cover to cover, distracting them at the opportune moments; some top quality sneaky peaky gameplay was on offer. Of course, going though a level and eliminating every enemy in your path was always an option too – you’ve got to remember this was an Assassin’s Creed title, at least in name. 

The story of Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India, while not as in-depth as the main story entries, was perfectly passable. We play as the hero of a graphic novel called Assassin’s Creed: Brahman. The fellow’s name was Arbaaz Mir, and as the game opens in 1841 India, it turns out that the Sikh Empire was at war with the East India Company. Under the cover of all the chaos, a Master Templar has arrived in India with an artifact – a mysterious one at that – and it was this which used to belong to the Assassin’s Order. As the game progresses, Arbaaz Mir must not only steal the item back, but he must also find out why the Master Templar is here, and then protect his friends and his lover from the inevitable fallout of his light-fingered activities. Should be fairly easy, right?

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One of the high points of these three games are the weapons that are introduced in them. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is no exception to this rule, and the period correct weaponry includes a vicious looking Aruval – a type of curved machete from the Tamil Nadu region. I imagine a good swing with this weapon would sting a bit, let’s put it that way! Mir also gains access to the Urumi, a weird sword with a flexible, whip-like blade, a Katara that serves as this game’s hidden blade, and finally a throwing weapon in the shape of Chakram. With the addition of a slingshot loaded with rocks to distract the enemies, and a pouch full of smoke bombs for stealth, you can see that we are fully tooled up and ready to rumble. 

Graphically the game evokes a sense of India in the past, with the scenery looking very lovely and plenty of folk standing about in period correct costume. The way the game dealt with stealth was effective as well, with Mir almost disappearing into the shadows; only his outline showing where he was. Further to those lines, the vision cones of any guards would change colour when they were suspicious – another mechanic that was ever so effective – and seeing a sea of yellow cones was always a heart pounding moment as you tried to let them calm down before making your next move. 

Gameplay was, as I mentioned earlier in the piece, very much up to you and how bloodthirsty you were feeling on the day. Could you be a ghost, wafting through the level like a cool breeze, or would you be more like Arnie in Terminator, and take out everything that stood in your way? Moving into the background and out to the foreground again to avoid the wide vision cones of the guards soon becomes second nature, while whistling to distract just one of the goons is another nice touch. Dangling from ceilings thanks to the grappling hook is another fun way of avoiding being spotted, and all in all the levels created in Chronicles: India are very well-designed, with multiple paths to explore and things to collect, such as the iconic Animus Shards. 

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All in all, I really enjoyed my time with the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India experience, as well as those of China and Russia that rolled out in the weeks around it. I find that the main games, like the most recent, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, require too much time and commitment to get the most out of them, and so the bite-size levels of India were just what the doctor ordered. 

But how about you guys? Did you enjoy running around the Indian subcontinent, being sneaky and/or murderous? Let us know in the comments! If you haven’t yet played it, get over to the Xbox Store and pick up a copy – the Trilogy is highly recommended.

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