As people will know, I really rather enjoy the Assassin’s Creed series. Don’t you dare mention the U word. Don’t. You. Dare.
But anyway, I knew this was meant to be a smaller game, and I knew it was meant to be a side-scrolling 2.5D game. So my expectations were, well, limited…
The first thing I noticed when I actually started playing the game was that it looks wonderful. It just does. It’s properly beautiful artwork, all through the game. Unfortunately, I forgot to get any decent screenshots, but you can check out my streams of it while they’re still on the channel. There is also lots of death.
Anyway, moving on. For those of you who are familiar with the Assassin’s Creed series, and who have watched the short film AC Embers, you’ll already have met the protagonist of this game, Shao Jun. She visits Ezio Auditore to seek the wisdom she needs to rebuild the brotherhood in China. We pick up the game a short time after she returns, so it helps to have seen that.
The game is still much shorter than the normal full games, and so the story was necessarily compressed, however I still enjoyed it. I should say though, that while I enjoyed the story, it basically didn’t connect me to the game. I’d have enjoyed the story and the game just as much were they separate entities.
Anyway, the gameplay. So, I’ve had a bit of a bugbear with Ubisoft over this thing that they do. Each of their Assassin’s Creed games, at least in recent years, has been designed firstly for consoles, and then effectively ported over into a PC version. And while the games generally translate across pretty well, there are always a few things that can get a little messy. Most noticeably, some of the key bindings you use are just fiddly to get. Pressing A or D in the direction of an enemy, and pressing C at the same time gets a little fiddly after not very long. Of course it could simply be an attempt on Ubisoft’s part to make us focus on stealth, by making combat basically unplayable. Perhaps. Maybe.
So, when I’m playing these games, I normally adopt an attitude of doing things as stealthily as possible. As I repeatedly demonstrated on Syndicate, especially when I mentioned this ideal, things more or less inevitably descended into significant levels of violence and death. For China though, I resolved to avoid that as much as I possibly could. I managed for more or less the entire game to avoid actual combat, and when I did get in a fight I generally just let myself get killed so I could try again. My death counter went up a lot playing this game. A lot. But I did get by with almost no combat.
Having said that, my favourite levels were those where you were racing to escape somewhere, usually with fire chasing you. They came with a message saying that guard kills did not affect your score, so I could do rapid kills and move on. They were definitely the best ones.
So, in conclusion. Short game, compared to the others in the full series. Still fun, and I still found it very hard to do well. But then, I suck at games, what do I know.