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Assassin’s Creed Mirage Review

Assassin's Creed Mirage

While we’ve very much enjoyed the last trio of Assassin’s Creed games, it’s safe to say they’re very different to what has come before.

Assassin’s Creed Origins felt like a huge departure from the tried-and-tested formula at launch, but then Odyssey was released which was even more alien to Assassin’s Creed fans. Then came Valhalla, which we loved, but made us wonder exactly what an Assassin’s Creed game was anymore. Ubisoft’s answer to all this is Assassin’s Creed Mirage, a game that returns to the series’ roots. A coming-of-age story, it puts players in control of a young Basim, who players may recognise from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. But it’s not totally old-fashioned; it sits more in the mid-point of the scale between the classic and modern gameplay styles of the series.

Smaller in scope, and price, than the last few Assassin Creed games, Mirage largely focuses on Basim’s efforts in the city of Baghdad to hunt down members of the Order of the Ancients. Before that, however, you’ll get to see how he became known to the Hidden Ones. It’s the setting that mostly makes this feel like an Assassin’s Creed game of old; the scenery is very familiar to that of the very first Assassin’s Creed, for one, and then there’s the fact that with most of the action taking part in a city, there’s less exploration of open areas and more making use of your parkour skills to use rooftops to not only move around, but also evade your pursuers.

Along with the setting, an increased focus on stealth also makes this a more traditional Assassin’s Creed game. Basim is not a battle-hardened warrior: though he’s capable in combat, if outnumbered his chances of survival aren’t very good, especially if you’re playing on standard difficulty or higher. It’s always advantageous here to remain undetected, whether that’s by using cover, or hiding in plain sight by blending in. If you’re caught, you might also decide to flee rather than fight, taking refuge in a hiding place once line of sight is broken and waiting a short while for the search to be called off.

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Evading your pursuers is just one aspect of keeping a low profile in Assassin’s Creed Mirage, however; you also need to keep on top of your notoriety. This develops as you make a nuisance of yourself, until eventually walking at street level will be impossible without attracting the attention of guards. To reduce your notoriety, you’ll need to keep an eye out for wanted posters and tear them down without prejudice. Or you can bribe the local loudmouth who’ll take the heat off you. The latter is only possible if you have a favor token to spare, though.

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The favor token system is something new to Assassin’s Creed Mirage. Three favor token types are available in the game – merchant, scholar and power – and each can be used to curry favour with certain individuals. They’re most useful, however, when tasked with assassinating high-profile targets, who often hide themselves away in guarded areas. You can try and find a way in yourself if you want, but it often pays to bribe some nearby mercenaries to cause a commotion, for example, or convince a merchant to help you get in without causing an alarm. In any case, anything that opens up your options is good in our book.

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Add everything up, along with insta-kill assassinations and a wealth of tools at your disposal, and you have a game that successfully replicates the feel of old-school Assassin’s Creed. It’s great, what with the last entry with this template being 2015’s Syndicate. There are still some elements of modern-day Assassin’s Creed games here, though, such as needing to loot materials and schematics in order to upgrade your gear. There are yet more new features, too, such as the overpowered focus stealth kill mechanic that allows you to effectively warp to a chain of targets and assassinate them. But hey, you don’t have to use it.

As ever, there are some small issues that may frustrate. Using your parkour skills can be awkward at times, with Basim occasionally getting stuck on certain objects or doing things you really didn’t want him to do, making him look like a bumbling buffoon. You might also encounter the odd minor glitch, although on the whole this appears much more polished than the likes of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Ultimately, it’s likely to be the story here that determines whether you simply like Assassin’s Creed Mirage or love it. We enjoyed it, but will still put it quite low on our list of favourite Assassin’s Creed narratives, unfortunately.

If you’re a long-time Assassin’s Creed fan that fondly remembers the early entries of the series, you’re likely to love Assassin’s Creed Mirage. Those who have found the last trio of entries simply too big will appreciate its sharper focus, too. While it does little to propel the series forward mechanically, it’s a return to what made it stand out in the first place: an open world stealth game where hiding in plain sight and making use of your parkour skills is key. Factor in the brilliant setting and some challenging assassination scenarios, and you have a game that pays homage to the series’ roots while successfully standing on its own two feet.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Assassin’s Creed Mirage is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.
Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!