Assassin’s Creed Mirage takes players on a mesmerizing journey through a richly detailed world, blending historical accuracy with the series’ trademark fictional narratives. It’s the newest game from Ubisoft’s iconic Assassin’s Creed series, written by Sarah Beaulieu and directed by Stéphane Boudon. In this review, we’ll explore various aspects of the game, including gameplay mechanics, narrative depth, graphics, and overall player experience.
[Note: While I am reviewing this game independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Ubisoft for the purpose of this review. Warning: Minor spoilers from previous Assassin’s Creed games are below!]
Amazing combination of history, environment, and the past 26 years
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is set in the 9th Century Baghdad long before Altair was the Assassin in the first game, and Masyaf Castle was built. The narrative explores a cornerstone of the Assassin’s Creed series, mixing historical events with a fictional storyline, offering players a compelling and immersive experience.
The protagonist of this game is Basim (Lee Majdoub) from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, but 20 years earlier. His journey is intricately connected with the overarching conflict between the Assassins/Hidden Ones and Templars, and Mirage successfully introduces new layers to this age-old struggle.
What’s most important to note at the beginning is that you don’t have to play Assassin’s Creed Valhalla to play in Mirage. Basim’s story is connected to that game, but there are no spoilers whatsoever to Valhalla that will ruin your experience. Mirage focuses on Basim’s transformation from a mere street thief to a Hidden One. His pivotal evolution takes shape within the clandestine realm of the Hidden Ones, under the guidance of the seasoned master assassin, Roshan (Shohreh Aghdashloo).
The promises from Ubisoft about a “dense and vibrant” environment are valid due to inhabitants dynamically responding to every nuanced move, one of the most beautiful locations in the series, and more. The whole city is divided into four districts, introducing us to locales such as Karkh, the industrial hub, and the distinctly blossoming Round City. Beyond the city limits, a groundbreaking venture awaits, as players can, for the first time in Assassin’s Creed’s storied history, explore the formidable fortress of Alamut (the legendary capital of the Hidden Ones).
What’s the best thing after all these years is that in Assassin’s Creed Mirage, there are no switches between the past and the present. It’s the whole experience set in one world where you don’t have to worry about something else. It’s all about Basim and his story, not about Desmond’s (protagonist of Assassin’s Creed 1 to III games) and Layla’s (protagonist of Assassin’s Creed Origins to Valhalla) problems with modern Templars. Except for the necessary moments both at the start and end of the game, but that’s it.
The game’s narrative is complemented by a sweet amount of side quests and other activities. These range from side-quests to looking for collectibles, to unlocking upgrades, and much more. This offers us some break from the main storyline if we want to do something else. The rewards for these endeavors, whether in terms of character progression or narrative depth, make them a worthwhile investment of time for the player. And it’s not like you have to go and collect 100 feathers in the whole of Italy.
Biggest strength of Assassin’s Creed Mirage are the old-new mechanics
One of the strengths of Mirage lies in its refined gameplay mechanics. The parkour system that we knew from older games is being brought back. It’s further enhanced, just like in Assassin’s Creed Unity, to allow us fluid and dynamic movements across the open world. Combat has been changed to fit more the “old” style rather than the one from the Assassin’s Creed RPG era. The integration of new mechanics contributes to a sense of progression and your overall experience throughout the game.
Mirage really convinces you to explore this open world. The attention to detail in recreating historical landmarks and environments is commendable. The diversity of landscapes, from bustling cities to serene countryside, adds to the game’s visual appeal. Dynamic weather and day-night cycles further contribute to the immersive nature of the world, creating a living, breathing backdrop for the player’s adventures. Visually, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is an amazing experience that really makes it feel like it’s a real world.
Recent Assassin’s Creed games mastered that experience, and I was more than happy to discover that it’s the same in Mirage. Adding to the capabilities of modern gaming technology, the level of detail in character models, environmental textures, and lighting effects is nothing short of stunning. More so, I can easily say that it’s one of the best-looking games this year. And while I was playing I didn’t experience any FPS drops, stuttering, or glitchy textures.
Mirage introduces a mixed character progression system that allows players to change how they play. But it’s not like in the RPG era, it’s more of an 80% classic equipment/inventory and 20% of the RPG system. There’s no looking for weapons for the higher level of your character, and no need to unlock thirty new abilities to defeat a boss. This newly mixed system adds a layer of personalization to the experience, as players can adapt their character to suit different challenges and situations without the need to feel that it’s forced by the game.
The auditory elements of Assassin’s Creed Mirage contribute significantly to its overall atmosphere. The sound design of the Arabic rhythms, traditions, culture, and history captures the ambiance of various settings, from city life to the astonishing details of landscapes and historical events (like the Zanj Rebellion for example). The musical score, composed by Brendan Angelides, enhances emotional moments and elevates the overall cinematic quality of the game. While exploring Baghdad you can feel this environment, and it’s one of the best things for me in Mirage, just as it was in the previous three titles.
My Conclusions on Assassin’s Creed Mirage
While Assassin’s Creed Mirage excels in many areas, it’s not without its minor flaws. For example, it’s a smaller game for around 25-30 hours, but I feel like it’s slightly too short. Compared to previous games, the tempo is faster and more focused on giving the player the comfort of playing, not forcing him/her to do so. Also sometimes loading screens were too long, and if you chose the higher difficulty level, you had to really think about how to approach and resolve different situations. The game’s ability to blend history with fiction, coupled with its technical prowess, ensures an experience that transcends the boundaries of conventional gaming and it really makes a notable difference.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is a living testament to the active evolution of the franchise. Its captivating setting, refined gameplay mechanics, and stunning visuals make it a worthy addition to the series. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer to the world of Assassin’s Creed, Mirage offers an engaging and immersive experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression. As a big fan who really loves this world, and only doesn’t like two games in the franchise, Mirage is really high.
If I had to compare it to the other games, I’d say it’s in my top 5 of Assassin’s Creed games. This review only scratches the surface of the features and details within Mirage. I didn’t want to reveal any spoilers related to the story, I feel like you miss a lot. But to know them, you’ll just have to play in the game yourself.
To sum up, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is like that one awesome pie you ate about 10 years ago. You mostly forgot how it tastes, but you remember how good it was. While playing this game, you remember why Assassin’s Creed is so good, and why you love it.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage releases on October 5th on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X and PC. Are you planning to play this game? What’s your favorite Assassin’s Creed game? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or The Cosmic Circus Discord.