Review – Assassin’s Creed Mirage

Assassin's Creed Mirage

While most Assassin’s Creed games weren’t about Assassin’s as it was, the Ancients Trilogy definitely lost the plot. I love all three to be clear, but I can understand why some people are unhappy with the franchise’s new directions. It was after I replayed the Ezio Trilogy on Switch, I myself started to get a bit nostalgic for classic AC. And just in time for the series’ 15 year anniversary, we got Assassin’s Creed Mirage. A budget priced and smaller AC title that pulls the focus back to the basics. Social stealth, hidden collectibles, and a world designed for freerun parkouring. Pillars the franchise were built upon, and ones that have been ignored the last few releases. And while Mirage isn’t perfect, it nails the classic experience it set out to recreate. 

First, the elephant in the room. Mirage looks and feels a lot like Valhalla. Especially at the start, where I was skeptical that this was the game Ubisoft had been selling it as. For many Valhalla was the epitome of how far the franchise had strayed from the original Assassin’s Creed, the game Mirage is said to be a direct spiritual successor too. Worry not though, it is exactly that. Once out of the prologue, which doesn’t take long, you’re dropped into Baghdad and you’ll see the difference. And yes you’ll see the words Gear and Crafting, which also set alarm bells off. But ultimately both mechanics are more similar to Black Flag and Unity than Odyssey or Valhalla. Something else the game doesn’t comfort you about quickly enough, but what can you do.  

Assassin's Creed Mirage ritual

Ritual disfigurement, a keystone of any good cult.

Once you get past that, and really it doesn’t take very long for Mirage to properly start, the game is honestly sublime. There’s a reason Assassin’s Creed became a blockbuster franchise, and Mirage is a strong reminder why. Everything is structured almost exactly like the original game. You’re given a target, have to undertake an investigation, which then culminates in an Unity styled black box assassination. Unlike the original however, investigations aren’t just generic missions but scripted campaign levels. And while I’d say Unity still has the best assassination missions of the franchise, Mirage is an overall stronger showing for consistent level design, sandbox gameplay, and a great blend of social and physical stealth. Mirage is also relatively nonlinear, and allows you to choose which order to assassinate targets. 

Mirage is not the best showing in the series for stealth (I’ll get to why later), but for my money it’s the best showing for implementation. The level design, especially in the sandbox black box missions, is really well done. There’s always multiple ways to complete missions, some highlighted while others are hidden, rewarding exploration and experimentation. Mirage can also be forgiving, critically in that alerting one enemy doesn’t alert the whole map. Unless someone hits an alarm or shouts, only the alerted enemies know. So it’s perfectly possible to engage in quick combat around corners, or on roofs, and maintain your overall stealth. Mistakes, if acted upon quickly, don’t automatically kill your mission. This keeps you on your toes, while rewarding risk-taking and ingenuity. 

Assassin's Creed Mirage iraq

You get the who and a few hows, but ultimately it’s all up to you how you want to play.

And this only grows as the game progresses. At the start you’ll have stealth, your hidden blade, and throwing knives. And while this is quite a toolbox, there’s more toys to play with. The joys of previous Assassin’s Creed games were the gadgets, from Rogue’s rifle to the glorious rope dart from AC3. And while these have been missing in recent titles, here they return with a vengeance. For me the standout here was the blow dart, but you’ll also get traps, noisemakers, and the glorious smoke bomb. Each of which can be upgraded, not just numerically but with perks that slightly change how they work. When combined with the mission design, you get a well designed sandbox game with a well designed stealth toolbox. 

It’s not perfect though. While a lot of work was done, this was built upon Valhalla. And one of the main issues with the RPG games was that you didn’t move as precisely as you used to. Since the focus on freerunning and stealth had fallen by the wayside, so too had the need for precise character movement. And while Mirage is better than Valhalla, it’s still a far cry from Unity. Far too many times did a freerun end with me stopping at an obstacle no reason. Or Basim accidentally headbutting a guard for no reason. And the struggle to climb through windows is downright ridiculous. It’s not gamebreaking and you will get used to it, but that doesn’t make it optimal. It’s my biggest issue with the game, the solution for my money being to simply return to the Unity/Syndicate version of the engine and work from there. 

Assassin's Creed Mirage stealth

Safety bush never judges, is always there for you, and never betrays your trust.

The story wasn’t anything to write home about either. I didn’t find it bad though, it did what it needed too. It was in a tough space, both needing to be its own game as well as a sequel/prequel to Valhalla’s monster narrative. And its choice of protagonist in Basim made things especially complicated. To say why would spoil two games, but if you know you know. And I think they did as decent a job with it as they could. Secondary characters are forgettable, but they aren’t bad. Basim and Roshan are both well done though, and the most important characters here. Overall the narrative could have been better, but it got right what it needed too. I was already intrigued by Basim after Valhalla, and Mirage only made me like him more. Plus, it felt nice to play an Assassin again, in a proper Assassin’s Creed storyline. 

I’ve always been an Assassin’s Creed fan, and Assassin’s Creed Mirage reminded me why. The joy of abusing enemy AI through the use of social stealth and corners. An open-world city to explore and parkour through, pickpocketing everyone. And the sandbox black box missions are fantastic, a culmination of the franchise at its best. Sure, overall the formula for the game is a collection of Ubisoft classics. But isn’t that what we’re here for at this point? Exploring a city, solving small puzzles, collecting stuff, and going stabby stabby while looking cool doing it. This is an Assassin’s Creed game, unapologetically, and it’s much better for it in my opinion. Here’s hoping Assassin’s Creed Red takes notes. 

Graphics: 8.0

It looks exactly like Valhalla, which means phenomenal landscapes and environments but some questionable character models and animations.

Gameplay: 8.0

The return to social stealth focused gameplay and a proper Assassin experience is thrilling and nostalgic, despite some legacy Valhalla jankiness.

Sound: 9.0

The voice-acting is mostly great in standard Ubisoft style, and the music is authentic and immersive.

Fun Factor: 9.0

I forgot how much I loved classic Assassin’s Creed until I started playing Mirage and realized how much I missed new games in this style.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Assassin’s Creed Mirage is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, and PC.

Reviewed on Xbox Series X.

A copy of Assassin’s Creed Mirage was provided by the publisher.