Assassin's Creed: Mirage Review

A Return to Form or a Mirage of the Past?

Mason Moeller

10/9/20232 min read

A Return to Form or a Mirage of the Past?

Assassin's Creed: Mirage beckons players back to the serpentine alleys and sun-drenched rooftops of the Middle East, a setting that harks back to the franchise's dawn. In this latest installment, Ubisoft aims to recapture the essence of the original Assassin's Creed games, focusing on stealth, intrigue, and the dense urban landscape of Baghdad. While the game strides forward with purpose, does it truly recapture the series' former glory, or is it merely chasing the ghosts of its predecessors?

The Heart of Baghdad: A City Alive

Mirage's rendition of Baghdad is a tapestry of bustling markets, whispering shadows, and architectural marvels. It's a playground for the stealth-inclined, with every nook and cranny designed to encourage exploration and discovery. The city's authenticity is one of the game's high points, offering a vibrant backdrop that feels both expansive and intimate. The attention to detail in recreating historic Muslim culture adds a layer of immersion that is both educational and deeply engaging.

Stealth Redefined, Combat Refined

At its core, Mirage aims to refine the stealth mechanics that defined the early entries in the series. Blending into crowds, pickpocketing, and the subtle dance of stealth assassinations make a welcome return. The introduction of special tokens and a focus on utilizing the environment and NPC behaviors adds a layer of strategy to the stealth gameplay that is both satisfying and rewarding. However, where Mirage seeks to innovate, it sometimes falters. The parkour and hidden blade assassinations, while functional, lack the precision and thrill that fans have come to expect. Combat, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. It simplifies the formula to a more counter-and-dodge based system that, while not groundbreaking, complements the stealth-heavy gameplay well, especially with the inclusion of fun elements like upgraded throwing knives that promise no trace of your deadly passage.

A Story of Shadows

Assassin's Creed: Mirage offers an engaging narrative with Basim, a character whose past is shrouded in mystery yet lacks the narrative depth that could have made him truly compelling. The story's pacing is brisk, pushing players from one objective to the next with a sense of urgency that sometimes feels at odds with the game's open-world nature. Nevertheless, the investigation board and various character interactions provide enough narrative meat to keep the journey interesting, if not groundbreaking.

Technical Elegance and Missed Opportunities

On the technical front, Mirage performs admirably, with the vivid cityscape of Baghdad brought to life with attention to detail and atmospheric lighting. The game's audio design deserves special mention, enhancing the immersive experience with a soundtrack that complements the setting and action perfectly. However, the game's ambition to return to the series' roots means that some aspects, such as the scaled-back ability tree and the somewhat predictable enemy AI, feel like missed opportunities to truly innovate within the franchise's formula.

Final Verdict: A Step in the Right Direction

Assassin's Creed: Mirage is a love letter to fans yearning for the series to revisit its origins. While not without its flaws, the game presents a captivating exploration of Baghdad, paired with a commitment to stealth that has been missing in recent entries. The combat, while simplified, adds to the fun, ensuring that encounters remain engaging. Mirage may not fully recapture the magic of the earliest Assassin's Creed games, but it stands as a testament to the series' enduring appeal and Ubisoft's willingness to listen to its fanbase. Here's to hoping this is but the first step in a renewed journey for the franchise, one that builds on the solid foundation Mirage provides.