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We feel like we’ve been waiting 15 years to play Assassin’s Creed Mirage.
Before the release of the first Assassin’s Creed, there were plenty of claims made about how the game would change the world of stealth forever, and breathless magazine covers proclaiming just how revolutionary the tale of Altaiar would be.
The promise was a game in which you took down a series of targets in whatever way you’d like, stalking through the streets, picking the perfect moment, and then disappearing into the darkness. That didn’t quite come to pass.
Since then, the series has evolved from refinements of the original game to an entire change of genre, when Assassin’s Creed became a mammoth open-world RPG with the Egypt-based Assassin’s Creed Origins. While some have enjoyed the change, the ‘Assassin’ in Assassin’s Creed has been all but lost. Mirage looks to bring that back.
In our demo, we were tasked with locating a target in a crowded market. All we were told about them was that they were likely to appear at an auction and that they were after a specific artefact. We could get more information by talking to specific merchants, but if we wanted, we could head straight for the auction and stalk our prey.
We were extremely surprised by just how little direction some of the objectives gave us. At one point we were told we needed a specific credential to get into a meeting with our target. In the majority of games like this, we’d get an objective marker leading us right to what we need. Instead, we’re just given a description of it and told to explore the market.
This stumped us for a while, as there were few characters that we could actually speak to about what we needed. However, after actually exploring the larger area, we found two guards talking to someone about losing the credential we were looking for, and where he may have lost it. We then backed away, climbed into the rafters, and snuck into the area to find the credentials.
Following this, we were led into a meeting with the client/target, and at once we were reminded of the excellent recent Hitman Trilogy. While we can’t go into detail, we ended up having to do the assassination portion twice due to a failed escape.
The first time, we let the scene play out and killed them at the moment the game offered us the choreographed chance. The second time, the moment we entered the room we launched a knife at them, and they dropped to the floor. Both of these methods were completely valid.
Finally, the main thing that we took away from our time with Assassin’s Creed Mirage was so basic that it almost seems ridiculous, but it’s emblematic of how the series turned away from what built the massive fan base in the first place – you can instantly kill enemies from behind.
As the series has evolved, that absolute staple of Assassin’s Creed has been so watered down, so dependent on what level your enemy was and other random factors, that it’s got to the point where sneaking behind enemies had become pointless.
Mirage brings back the absolute joy of sneaking through an enemy encampment and silently killing all of them in one swift strike. It’s so much fun.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage feels like a remake of a 2008-era Assassin’s Creed game that never existed. There’s just enough of the modern comforts of the RPG fork of the series so that it doesn’t feel dated, but the true joy in Mirage is in the tiny things.
Sitting on a bench and listening to a conversation. Pickpocketing merchants. Not to mention the fact that the map isn’t the size of the continental United States.