Assassin's Creed is reaching its 25th year, and after wading into deeper RPG territory for Odyssey and Valhalla, it is Assassin's Creed Mirage that's bringing the series back to its stealthy roots. Last week we had a chance to sit down and play through a few key moments in Basim Ibn Ishaq's early life.
Assassin's Creed Mirage - Basim's First Adventure
The story of Basim and Assassin's Creed Mirage starts with him lurching from a nightmare. In a realm of shadows and black sands a mummified creature, a jinni, stalks Basim before approaching.
The first portion of my guided demo followed Basim as a thief in Anbar accepting a job by the Hidden Ones, the Assassin's order of this time. The second portion caught up with Basim as he was undergoing his Hidden One's trial and graduation to full Hidden One status.
Basim exposits through conversation with his friend and fellow thief Nehal. Basim early on has noble ideals of "standing up to [their] oppressors as the Hidden Ones do." This passion stems from the way his father was mistreated and is what fuels him to want to become a Hidden One himself.
Conversations between Basim and Nehal, whether she's reassuring him or chastising his lofty goals, immediately feel grounded. While there's no proper introduction to these two or their history as a player, I immediately understood their relationship and was drawn into their story.
The dynamic between Basim and his future mentor Roshan is also an interesting one. On first meeting Roshan, you can see how she holds herself with importance and dedication to the Creed which very clearly comes across as disdain for Basim.
Even when undergoing the Hidden One trials she treats Basim with kid gloves, but by the time Basim has graduated, you can tell by her tone and body language that she comes to see Basim as an equal.
Hidden One In Training
If you've played Assassin's Creed before then you know a lot of what to expect from the gameplay. As Basim, you'll run across roofs or sneak through grass working towards completing your objective.
The first infiltration was to recover a ledger from a small compound. Leaping over a wall and activating my eagle vision, I was able to find my target; getting past the locked door, however, required me to take out the guards in the area.
Having not been a fan of the introduction of enemy ranks and gear score in recent Assassin's Creed titles, it felt so good to know that when I was leaping off a roof to execute an air assassination my target.
The Parry Is Back In Assassin's Creed Mirage!
Not only are instant assassinations back but combat has also returned to a simpler state. Once caught, I immediately knew to watch for enemies and be ready to parry and kill.
I laughed to myself as memories of parrying 10+ guards at a time in Assassin's Creed II flooded back. I found out quickly that while the 'parry and stab' technique will work if you're facing one or two enemies, you can still quickly get overwhelmed.
I didn't use the tools too much during my time playing, mostly because I forgot that they existed until the person guiding me through my demo reminded me that they were present. The one use of a smoke bomb that I did use was extremely fruitful, allowing me to descend on an outpost's boss, assassinate him, and be gone before anyone else knew what was happening.
How An Assassin Investigates
The final portion of my Assassin's Creed Mirage adventure was an investigation to find the identity of the Treasurer, a major player against the Hidden Ones in Baghdad, and assassinate them.
Starting this portion of the demo, I only knew that the Treasurer was after a Chinese Hairpin. Delving into the Bazaar there were multiple ways to go about my investigation. I found local allies who were able to share information with me after I helped them out, could meet with local guildmen, and even find an escort who knew the Treasurer's identity.
Each thread gave information on the location, intent, and identity of the Treasurer, all important groundwork before a planned assassination.
By the time all of that was done what was most surprising to me was that if I had come into this with a sizable amount of money in my purse I could have just purchased the pin myself to draw The Treasurer out.
Assassin's Creed Mirage Preview | Final Thoughts
While I only got to spend a few hours at important moments in Basim's life, as a fan of earlier Assassin's Creed titles, I was extremely happy with what I experienced.
Basim's story of becoming a Hidden One and the mysterious Jinni haunting his dreams immediately hook the player, while familiar assassination and combat will keep them wanting to explore Baghdad and other locations. Seeing minimal skill trees and cosmetic options to style Basim, it feels like Assassin's Creed Mirage has shed the bloat that I felt when trying to get into Origins and Odyssey.
Assassin's Creed Mirage was previewed remotely thanks to Ubisoft.