Taking place nine centuries after Assassin’s Creed Origins and only 11 years before Valhalla, Assassin’s Creed Mirage tells the tale of Basim Ibn Is’haq. If you played Valhalla, you know how his story unfolds and ends — so I won’t spoil that for you. But know, in Mirage, you are getting his origin story. You won’t have to have prior knowledge of Basim to play Mirage.
The graphics of Assassin’s Creed Mirage are undoubtedly crisp and visually appealing. However, they may not represent a significant leap from the previous title, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. It’s worth noting that Mirage was initially slated to be DLC for Valhalla before evolving into a full-fledged game.
Mirage transports players to the bustling city of Baghdad, beautifully depicting 9th-century life. The markets are teeming with people, and this lively atmosphere marks the return of the “blend into the crowd” feature, vital when escaping pursuing guards. From the architectural design of buildings to the sandy landscapes and vast skies, the game’s environment authentically captures the essence of historical Baghdad. While comparisons can be drawn to the environment in Assassin’s Creed Origins, it’s important to acknowledge that Mirage’s rendition is uniquely its own.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage follows a gameplay style reminiscent of its predecessor, Valhalla. The game, however, introduces an active emphasis on stealth, harkening back to the franchise’s roots. Stealth takes center stage, with one-hit silent assassinations at the forefront. Hiding in tall grass or bushes, whistling over an unsuspecting enemy, and leaping off a pillar above your target are all features that make an Assassin’s Creed game, and Assassin’s Creed game to me. Engaging in armed combat can prove challenging, though, as mistimed dodges or parries can lead to dire consequences. The combat system employs a colored mechanic to distinguish between attacks that must be dodged and those that can be parried. Confusing these buttons during combat can be, and was, frustrating.
Weapon, gear, and tool management follow Valhalla’s principles, focusing on upgradability. Collecting materials throughout Baghdad allows players to enhance their equipment rather than collecting various tiered loot. The option to transmogrify (my word, not theirs) items offers customization without sacrificing performance. This system allows for personalization while maintaining effectiveness in gameplay. You’ll even be able to acquire various dyes to recolor your Assassin’s robes.
Despite the enjoyable aspects of Mirage, specific issues hinder the overall experience. Combat, except for assassinations, may disappoint players who prefer a more robust fighting system. The checkpoint system presents frustrations, often sending players back to early parts of a quest after accidental detections, leading to unnecessary repetition. This issue can be particularly aggravating in scenarios involving complex infiltration. A few times, I found myself on a mission and accidentally got killed, only to return to the beginning of that mission section. Sometimes, that was a minute ago; other times, it was 10 minutes prior. I would walk into a room with a few guards, die, and end up outside the compound, having to sneak back in. The worst offense came when I infiltrated a building and went to the basement. From the basement, I had to enter a prison corridor, disguise myself as a prisoner, and make my way to a room where I could stand in the center and blend-in. This whole section probably took 15 to 30 minutes because I was also collecting treasures along the way. Fast forward to me walking up to the “blend-in” prompt, and I stepped a few steps too far. All the guards freak out and kill me. I think, “it’s no biggie, I’ll spawn outside the room, and they’ll walk me back in.” NOPE, it checkpointed me outside the basement section, meaning I had to do over half of that whole scenario again. Assassinate all the same guards and reacquire all the treasures. Now I understand taking out the guards again, but forgetting that I’ve already grabbed the items really took a hit to my morale. There was quite the loud audible groan that was made at that moment in time. Along with that, the will to keep playing was slim, I just did all of that, why do I want to do it again? This wasn’t a one-off issue, either. Other quests have this same lousy checkpointing. It wouldn’t be so bad if they let you manually save while in a quest building.
Another noticeable flaw is how the strongholds respawned guards, this makes clearing strongholds feel less impactful. I dislike when games do this; I put in all this work to clear them out, only for them to keep feeding more enemies to you. In their defense, I do not know if those same enemies would return a third time, but even one replenishment is too much. If I happened to leave the stronghold and came back, I could understand repopulating the guards, but for them to walk up and take over the other dead guards’ patrol while I’m still inside, that’s no fun and deflating. While some may like this feature, it nonetheless detracts from the gaming experience for me. At least let me choose when to reset the enemies, something like a Dark Souls or I believe even Ubisoft’s own Far Cry series has something like this.
A final issue lies in the inconsistency of prompts for the blacksmiths, disrupting the flow of interactions in the game. Any blacksmith I visited would not deploy their prompt as I would have to sit there and wait for them to stop their animation before any anything would possibly appear; they didn’t always. This issue doesn’t happen with the tailor, so I believe this is just a bug that will eventually get fixed.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage offers an engaging experience, blending historical accuracy with the intrigue of the Assassin’s Creed series. While the graphics are crisp, they may not represent a significant leap from the previous title, Valhalla. The shift towards a more stealth-focused gameplay mechanic is a welcome return to the series’ roots, although combat mechanics could benefit from some refinement. The upgrade system aligns with Valhalla’s mechanics and doesn’t overload you with weapon choices. However, the game is marred by frustrating checkpoint issues, stronghold respawn mechanics I don’t like, and occasional merchant prompt problems. Despite these drawbacks, Mirage successfully brings the series back to its stealthy origins and provides an enjoyable gaming experience for fans of the franchise like myself.
A PlayStation 5 code was provided in advance by Ubisoft for review purposes