“What’s In The Box?”

I enjoy the Assassin’s Creed series and adore a good side-scroller, therefore Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China, has the right pitch to be a match made in heaven. Yet, galavanting through the various missions simply isn’t very exciting. The experience, as a whole, lacks zest, compulsion and enjoyment, with nothing new story or gameplay-wise to fall back on. Partly saved by it’s beautiful visuals and affordable price tag, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China isn’t unbearable, but it certainly doesn’t standout.

The first red flag is hoisted up by the lackluster narrative. It revolves around Shao Jun, the last living assassin in the Chinese Brotherhood. With Jun’s comrades all fallen at the hands of Templars, her motives match the outline of revenge, along with the search to regain a prized box. Tasked with eliminating everyone involved in the Brotherhood’s downfall, Shao Jun travels about stabbing and slashing, jumping and climbing, with very little payoff or satisfaction.f01cfb90e9c09194decf72a4e74fda060270f798.jpg__1651x876_q85_crop_upscaleWith the story dormant of surprises, more weight lies on the rest of the game to deliver. Fortunately, the game holds itself together more than its story, yet not by much. Hands-down, Chronicles strongest suit is its visuals. The game is overflowing with watercolor beauty, superbly capturing the tone and aesthetic of the setting. Set pieces come to life with an inviting, paperlike texture, while even the fairly expansive 2.5D, side-scrolling world’s most simple designs, depict unique detail. The level design also holds up quite well, as each area feels like an actual dimensional structure, rather than just a level plane the player exists on. Embarking on exploring multiple paths to objectives and fully understanding the level design–especially during the escape sequences–make up the most exciting moments of Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China.

The majority of time spent in levels consists of enemy confrontation or avoidance depending on how the player goes about it, both coming off stubborn and inconvenient. The stealthy approach is the intended tactic, but never properly excites. Small bursts of rewarding accomplishments come in the form of fluid assassinations, however appear far too infrequent and never progress past the first time they are pulled off. In fact, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China isn’t much different over the coarse of its five hour or so runtime, than it is from its first few missions. Neat gadgets are at Shao Jun’s disposal, yet missions rarely implement them with any real creative purpose. The combat taught in Chronicles introductory missions got the job done just fine up until the credits rolled, demanding very little pivotal interaction with secondary gameplay options.8f47ab5ffce24b7f264eb9316adb386ee6f3b34e.jpg__1280x720_q85_crop_upscaleSwordplay has always been a proud staple of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, yet here it stands as Chronicles biggest downfall. Provided you get in a pinch, slashing your way out is a janky and inconvenient method that ultimately works against the pacing. These unnecessary encounters are hardly fun and are so annoying it’s worth avoiding the affair entirely. Keeping to the shadows is typically wise in any stealth game, but balancing out the package with palpable combat is just as essential.

Summary: Chronicles suffers from a deficiency of momentum and results in a mildly enjoyable time passer that fails to embrace its circumstances. It’s a shame there’s not much to keep players around, because Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China is a beautiful game with an enticing art style possessing solid ideas. While I recognize it’s no marvel, I hold out interest for the following installments, Chronicles: India and Chronicles: Russia, promised to arrive later this year. Considering the accessible asking price and length, you get more quantity with Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China than lasting quality.

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