Back to Basics?
Assassin’s Creed Mirage may not be the best entry in the series, but it delivers on Ubisoft’s promise of a classic experience. The game has many shortcomings, but an immersive open world makes it a joy to explore, while a focus on parkour and stealth helps keep the series fresh compared to the grander RPG releases of the last few years.
Story - 6/10
Gameplay - 6/10
Graphics and Performance - 7/10
Audio and Soundtracks - 9/10
- Baghdad Is A Strong Setting
- Top-notch Soundtracks
- Engaging Investigations
- Linear Main Story
- Not Too Much Combat Diversity
- Uninteresting characters
- Parkour and Stealth Aren’t Innovative
Ubisoft’s most popular franchise is back. Having sold over 200 million copies, this series has taken gamers on grand adventures through the bustling streets of Paris, the towering pyramids of Egypt, and London at the peak of its industrial revolution. The series’ latest outing promises to pay homage to its earlier entries, appealing to old fans and newcomers alike. Promising an experience reminiscent of the earlier games, Ubisoft sought to return to the roots of the series after straying into the RPG genre.
This ambition resulted in Assassin’s Creed Mirage, a DLC turned into its own game. Ubisoft boasted parkour and stealth as the headlining features for its latest Assassin’s Creed entry, using these fundamentals for a compact story centered around Basim Ibn Ishaq.
- Parkour and stealth are major parts of the game, but they are not expanded beyond established Assassin’s Creed tropes.
- The narrative and supporting cast are weak, leading to an underwhelming story.
- Baghdad is spectacular and easily the best part of the game.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage introduces players to Basim Ibn Ishaq from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The game sticks close to its assassin roots, highlighting the struggle between the order and the hidden ones.
Basim begins his journey as a petty street thief with ambitions to do something bigger. After stumbling upon an ancient artifact, the protagonist is forced to flee from his hometown, eventually joining the assassins.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is among the slower entries of the franchise. The first few hours of the game are spent setting up Basim’s journey as an assassin, and the game opens up once the character returns to Baghdad.
A Weak Protagonist And Supporting Cast
This section introduces players to much of the game’s supporting cast. Unfortunately, the game lacks many interesting characters. Apart from a few important characters like Roshan, Fuladh, and Nehal, the game’s cast is largely unforgettable.
Basim is also not as striking as the earlier protagonists. This is not the character’s first appearance in the franchise, but he fails to live up to the likes of Ezio, Edward, or Bayek, who have more nuance to their personalities and stories.
Antagonists follow a similar trend, and players will not find anyone as memorable as Haytham Kenway throughout the 15-hour main story.
Investigations Are A Welcome Change of Pace
Assassin’s Creed Mirage uses investigations for its storytelling. As Basim tracks different clues, he gradually opens up multiple leads and diverging paths. This leads to a non-linear progression that organically introduces players to different parts of Baghdad.
While these investigations are not complex in nature, they fit well within the context of an assassin studying the environment and using every small detail to track his foes. Following multiple smaller missions, the investigations culminate in a final showdown against one of the five major targets.
These missions play to the game’s strengths, providing multiple options to eliminate prominent members of the order.
Baghdad Is A Brilliant Setting
While the narrative is weak, Baghdad is the highlight of Assassin’s Creed Mirage. With a large variety of locations, Basim can explore libraries, expansive deserts, busy streets, and distinct shops scattered throughout the city.
Baghdad is a very busy setting, and at any given moment, a number of NPCs can be seen going about their daily lives. Their conversations and reactions to Basim’s actions throughout the game add a lot of character to this city.
Unlike past settings, Baghdad is much smaller. However, this allows for more denser environments. Every corner in the city has a story to tell, making it a joy to explore the game.
The smaller setting comes at the expense of variety, but it works really well for Assassin’s Creed Mirage and its relatively short main story.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is arguably the most stealth-focused entry in the series to date. While prior protagonists from the series could certainly blitz through waves of enemies without relying on stealth, the same cannot be said for Basim Ibn Ishaq.
Our assassin, this time around, is not as strong as many of his descendants. While characters like Connor could use brute force to deal with any kind of threat, Basim has to rely on his wits to outsmart his enemies.
Basim Struggles With Head-On Combat
This primarily comes down to the game’s combat system. Basim is very limited with his sword, being able to use a series of regular attacks, a dodge, and a parry to deal with his enemies.
This combat system is practical enough to deal with one or two enemies at a time, but Assassin’s Creed Mirage often throws several enemies at the player. Such encounters highlight that Basim is slow and sluggish with his sword.
He cannot take enemies head-on like many of his descendants, but this deliberate approach to combat puts stealth front and center. Thankfully, Basim’s toolkit is much more versatile in this department.
Stealth Is The Key To Victory
The protagonist can rely on tools like throwing knives, blow darts, smoke bombs, and more to outsmart his foes in addition to the traditional Assassin’s Creed loop of sticking to the shadows.
Unlike past games, Assassin’s Creed Mirage offers the ability to take down a maximum of four targets instantly. Known as the Assassin’s Focus, this ability is similar to the fear takedown from Batman Arkham Knight.
Social stealth is also back, allowing Basim to use his surroundings as he maintains a low profile. Scattered throughout Baghdad are benches and crowds of NPCs, which can be used to become the ultimate killing machine from the shadows.
A sluggish combat system, a frail protagonist, and a plethora of tools culminate in a strong stealth focus for Assassin’s Creed Mirage. From the get-go, the game makes it clear that stealth is typically the optimal method to approach a given combat scenario.
The good news is that stealth is engaging and enjoyable, albeit formulaic, at times. Like other parts of Assassin’s Creed Mirage, stealth does not push the envelope further, coming off as a bit too familiar.
Baghdad Hunts For Basim As He Gains Notoriety
Stealth is also complemented by the game’s notoriety system. As Basim kills guards and infiltrates restricted areas, he gains notoriety, resulting in recognition from common folks.
Once the notoriety meter reaches a certain level, NPCs frequently call to guards upon the sight of Basim. Players can find wanted posters or use bribes to reduce the meter, further encouraging a stealthier approach.
Parkour Is Fun But Lacks Innovation
With stealth out of the way, let’s address parkour. The RPG trilogy featured wide and open maps, leaving little room for parkour, and this was a common criticism of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla among many fans.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage pivots from this level design, introducing a city tailored to parkour. Unfortunately, Basim’s parkour has not seen much of a revamp, being very similar to the RPG trilogy’s traversal system at its core.
Assassin’s Creed Unity raised the bar for the IP’s parkour mechanics in 2014, and it is disappointing to see Ubisoft not reaching similar heights nine years later. While Assassin’s Creed Unity was by no means perfect, it marked a massive step forward for parkour.
On the other hand, Assassin’s Creed Mirage only takes small steps to improve over recent games in the series. Basim does not feel as quick as earlier protagonists, and his animations lack the flair many had wanted to see.
Baghdad Elevates An Okay Parkour System
The lack of innovation in parkour aside, there is fun to be had in Assassin’s Creed Mirage’s traversal system. Baghdad, in particular, is a strong asset to the traversal as its level design facilitates the parkour much better than in recent settings.
There are plenty of structures to scale in Baghdad, allowing Basim to use ledges and windows to make his way to higher ground. Ropes are also laid out across the city, connecting landmarks through large distances.
Therefore, moment-to-moment gameplay is rarely dull. This dense-level design presents plenty of opportunities for creative traversal, making it a joy to move through Baghdad, even if parkour is basic in nature.
Graphics And Performance
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is one of the many cross-generation games in 2023 built on an old engine, leading to mixed results.
Baghdad, for the most part, looks stunning. The textures are sharp, and most of the assets in the game are high quality. Lighting and shadows are also a strong suit of the game, despite the absence of ray tracing.
However, the character models and facial animations stand out as the weaker aspects. Main characters like Basim and Roshan lack detailed models, rarely showing strong emotions through facial expressions.
NPCs are even worse, highlighting the age of Ubisoft’s current engine and technologies. Even compared to most cross-generation games this year, Assassin’s Creed Mirage looks inferior, perhaps suggesting a lack of polish in this aspect.
As for performance, the game was tested on PC for the purpose of this review. Across two configurations, Assassin’s Creed Mirage ran mostly well, showing the odd stutter every now and then.
Smooth Gameplay on PC
A GeForce RTX 4090 paired with an Intel Core i7-13700K led to an average of 120FPS at 4K resolution. This result was achieved using maximum settings at native resolution and TAA.
The more budget build with a GeForce RTX 3060 and an Intel Core i5-12400 delivered an average of 72FPS with the same settings at 1080p. This configuration was used for the majority of the time spent playing the game, showing minimal stutters.
While the game was benchmarked using the maximum settings, a mixture of the maximum and high settings resulted in good performance, with the game hovering around 80FPS at 1080p with the widest possible FOV. DLSS was not used for either test since the game already ran well above 60FPS without it.
It should be noted that Assassin’s Creed Mirage comes with Denuvo following the day-one patch. While the game was played without Denuvo before the review, testing after the patch did not show any major performance hiccups compared to the test build.
Audio and Soundtrack
Ubisoft has seldom disappointed in the audio department. Assassin’s Creed is famous for its many soundtracks and rich audio design, and the latest entry is no different.
Middle Eastern culture is beautifully represented through an incredibly dynamic original theme in the latest entry, and Ezio’s Family returns with a custom version for Basim’s journey. Soundtracks like the combat theme are also excellent.
As part of the Muslim culture, the game includes the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, further adding to the brilliant atmosphere and lively nature of Baghdad in Assassin’s Creed Mirage.
In other areas, the voice acting leaves little to be desired, and Ubisoft’s decision to include several instances of Arabic lines goes a long way toward celebrating the culture of 9th-century Baghdad.
Therefore, Assassin’s Creed Mirage passes with flying colors in this department.
Should You Buy It?
Buy It If:
You have been a fan of Assassin’s Creed for many years and found yourself growing tired of the RPG formula of the IP, missing the older elements of its predecessors.
Don’t Buy It If:
You only enjoyed the RPG trilogy of Assassin’s Creed and elements like the large open world. In this case, waiting for Assassin’s Creed Red or a price drop would be the best option.
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Avinash is currently pursuing a Business degree in Australia. For more than three years, he has been working as a gaming journalist, utilizing his writing skills and love for gaming to report on the latest updates in the industry. Avinash loves to play action games like Devil May Cry and has also been mentioned on highly regarded websites, such as IGN, GamesRadar, GameRant, Dualshockers, CBR, and Gamespot.