Assassin’s Creed: Mirage Returns to The Shadows, Reintroducing the Series to its Core Essence | Review

Assassin’s Creed Mirage takes the franchise back to its roots in a number of ways that should delight long-time fans, while still appealing to newcomers. Here’s our review.

For the past 16 years, the Assassin’s Creed series has taken players on a captivating journey through various historical settings. Be it the bustling streets of Jerusalem or the pirate-infested seas of Kingston Jamaica, the game has managed to recreate these locations in stunning detail.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage
Developers: Ubisoft, Ubisoft Bordeaux
Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, PC
Release Date: October 5, 2023

With the latest addition, Assassins Creed Valhalla, taking players to the mountaintops of Norway, the series has continued to evolve and bring new experiences to its players. The main objective of these games has always been to follow the creed and restore peace to the land, and with each new installment, the game only gets better.

I thoroughly enjoyed AC: Valhalla, but I found the game to be excessively huge, and, at times, it felt more like a Viking simulator than an Assassin’s Creed game. Assassins Creed Mirage, on the other hand, takes players back to the roots of the series. It features a smaller map and reintroduces classic elements for players to relish. But, does it live up to the standards set by the larger games in the series, or does it play it too safe? Let’s find out…

We Work in the Dark to Serve the Light

Mirage is set roughly 900 years after the events of AC Origins, during a time when the Assassins were still known as the Hidden Ones. In this game, players get to experience the enthralling origin story of Basim, a character who was first introduced in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla as one of the leaders of the Hidden Ones.

While I had my reservations about Basim in Valhalla, Mirage offers a fresh perspective by presenting a younger version of him. Through this, players get to witness his character develop and understand what drives him to become the person he is; a man who strives to uphold the Creed’s values and principles.

Through his trials, the story takes us on a thrilling and emotionally charged adventure, as we discover the enigmatic secrets of the “ones that came before” and the Hidden Ones’ mission to protect them from the world’s eyes. Basim’s emotional journey is one of the central elements of the story, as he navigates through a complex web of intrigue, betrayal, and sacrifice to uncover the truth and do what is right for the Creed.

What’s Old is New

One of the standout aspects in Mirage is how it returns to the classic gameplay style/formula that originally made the franchise popular. Unlike the sprawling open-world environments of games like Valhalla and Odyssey, Mirage opts for a simpler approach to quests and side missions. This streamlined design makes it easier to stay focused on the main story without getting bogged down in a sea of unrelated tasks.

The quests themselves are engaging and varied, with a strong focus on investigation and exploration. Players will find themselves piecing together clues to solve murders, uncovering the hidden secrets of “The Order”, and interacting with a diverse cast of characters who are all connected in some way to the game’s overarching narrative.

Mirage strikes a perfect balance between accessibility and depth, offering a gameplay experience that is both satisfying and engaging from start to finish. As Basim traverses through the bustling city of Baghdad, he stumbles upon an array of intriguing side-quests that offer an immersive experience beyond just performing tasks related to The Hidden Ones. These quests (e.g. Tales of Baghdad, Lost Books, and World Contracts) provide an excellent opportunity to embark on a journey of cultural exploration and discovery.

Most importantly, these sidequests don’t feel like “filler” simply meant to pad out the gameplay, but enhance the overall experience. With each quest, Basim uncovers more about the rich history and traditions of Baghdad. This allowed me to not only thoroughly explore the map, but gave me the chance to stumble upon unique treasure. Plus I got to level up my general combat skills and improve my chances against tougher adversaries. Through these side-quests, the game offers a captivating and enriching experience.

We are What We Choose to Be

As I played Mirage, I was impressed by how it managed to blend classic storytelling with modern gameplay mechanics. One of the most significant changes from the previous two games was the simplification of the combat and skill tree system. While RPG enthusiasts may have enjoyed the depth and complexity of the previous games, more casual players might have found it overwhelming.

This time around, the game presents players with only three main sets of skills to upgrade: Phantom, Trickster, and Predator. This streamlined approach allows players to focus on the path of the Assassin and enjoy the game’s narrative without getting bogged down in a labyrinthine skill tree.

The classic style of gameplay is evident not only in the skill tree but also in the way you approach missions. While you could sneak around in the previous games, the skill tree and its upgrades make it feel more authentic and reminiscent of the games of the past. For example, I remember exploring a certain area of the map and noticing a heavily guarded location.

Using my “Assassin’s Vision,” I saw a treasure chest in the main building of that location. It was a challenging situation, but I decided to use my Eagle vision to tag as many guards as possible in the area and start taking them out one by one.

What I appreciated about Mirage was the attention to detail in the game’s mechanics. In situations like this, your tools come in handy. The game offers an array of weapon accessories (traps, gas, throwing knives, blow darts, and noisemakers), that can be used to turn the tide of battle. As I embarked on my journey towards the treasure chest, my heart was pounding with excitement. The tools I had at my disposal were nothing short of exceptional, allowing me to navigate the treacherous path with ease.

The world of Mirage was so immersive, I felt as though I was living and breathing within it, every step of the way. The experience left me feeling deeply satisfied, and I can confidently say that this adventure is one I will never forget. As I embarked on my journey through the bustling streets of Baghdad in the game Mirage, the immersive experience was further amplified by the awe-inspiring music composed by Brendan Angelides.

Against the backdrop of the stunning visuals the development team had meticulously crafted, the heart-pumping music elevated the realism of the world, bringing the rich culture of the game to life.

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Caleb Gayle
Owner @2ndOpinionPro | Content Creator at @Cinelinx | Married @Dara_Potato | @Poplco Ambassador | Partnered @DubbyEnergy | #GameIndustry Vet 16+
assassins-creed-mirage-returns-to-the-shadows-reintroducing-the-series-to-its-core-essence-reviewRegardless of your level of gaming experience, be it a seasoned RPG enthusiast or a casual gamer, the unforgettable adventure promised by Assassin's Creed Mirage is one that will leave you enchanted and thoroughly captivated. It seamlessly blends traditional storytelling with contemporary gameplay mechanics resulting in an experience that left me feeling deeply satisfied. I can confidently say that this adventure is one that you will not forget!