“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves”.
But for some, vengeance is the only purpose of their existence, and this can be said about almost all the main characters of the “Assassin’s Creed” series. It would seem that they all have noble goals, but if you start to analyse their histories, virtually every journey begins with their vices: pride, hatred, betrayal, anger, greed, and even drunkenness.
If you’ve seen the animated film “Assassin’s Creed: Embers“, you can already imagine who Shao Jun, the protagonist of “Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China” is. A Chinese woman-assassin with the arrogance and irresponsibility of an ordinary teenager, but still a master of her trade. As with any more or less popular character of this endless assassin saga, she has also earned her own game. Perhaps a small one in terms of scale, but in the genre of real stealth, which the saga has pretended to be for so long.
I was expecting anything and everything from “ACCC“. After all, the game was given as an appendage DLC for the not-too-successful Unity, and Climax Studios were the ones responsible for its development, which was already enough not to have taken this game seriously (I will forever remember their “Silent Hill 0” with laughter). Especially as far as two-dimensional action-adventure with stealth goes, I was quite satisfied with “Mark of the Ninja“. But “Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China” was released as a standalone game, and curiosity overcame me.
The first thing that surprised me – the imagery is rather weak with a minimal set of colours and a minimalist overall style of cell-shading. However, it was a false impression – the authors not only saved on production of the game, but also tried to stylize the image as a classical Chinese painting, and they have even succeeded. Especially because, frankly, there is no time to admire the views – we have a new story of revenge and stealth.
Stealth, by the way, varies. Having espied a system of diversifying and developing stealth in “Splinter Cell: Blacklist” by the very same Ubisoft, the authors of “ACCC” introduced something similar in their game. “Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China” can also be completed in three styles:
-as “Shadow” – hiding in the dark and on the ceilings, distracting enemies and passing by unnoticed in the locations;
-as “Assassin” – also hiding, but eliminating unwanted security guards;
-and as “Brawler” – engaging in open battle and using the skills of your school of combat, destroying the enemy face to face.
The most profitable way, and thus the longest, is of course the first one. But the work and time spent on it will be rewarded, because after each of the 12 chapters the game will tally how, where and how long you played, convert all into points, compare to the maximum possible, and that’s when the player is bestowed character gains: more health, more energy, more expendable baits. And if you want to beat the game a second time, all the gains will stay with you.
The rest of the gameplay boils down to permanently hiding out of sight of the enemies, and the active use of items: crackers, daggers, darts and a little of your own whistling to give away your position. The enemy is not too attentive and not too smart, but technically better equipped: halberds, swords, crossbows, shields, and service birds and dogs who respond to movement. Only pros will risk open battle, the rest will prefer safer ways of getting from point A to B.
In general, as a representative of both the stealth genre and of the “Assassin’s Creed” series, the game turned out very sound. Parkour, some non-linearity of gameplay, unusual situations, a lot of opportunities to play faster and better, and, of course, the game dishes out another portion of highly pathetic stories that the authors are so fond of. The problem, as usual, is the PC version of the game, where controls and optimization of the whole leave much to be desired. For example, my Steam version begins to lag frantically after a while, and that can be cured in a very original way – by pressing the screenshot button. How, why, what has led to this technical trick, I personally don’t understand. However, the same thing can be said about almost all games by Climax Studios.
Good stealth with nonlinearity
High-quality duration and replayability
There are situations in which the authors impose a path (there is no way to stealth)
Clichéd, uninteresting story
PC optimization is poor