Most Intriguing Idea: converting Assassin’s Creed into a stealth-focused 2D game
Best Design Decision: copying Mark of the Ninja liberally
Worst Design Decision: combat is too complex given how useless it is to fight
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China is not the first time AC games have gone 2D—side-scrollers focused on platforming and combat were created for Ezio and Altaïr. Chronicles: China discards that approach in favor of aping Mark of the Ninja’s design as openly as possible. This isn’t a bad idea at all, as Mark of the Ninja is among the best stealth games ever made. Chronicles: China isn’t quite that good. Without the vertical element and snappy movement brought by Mark’s grapple, it feels a bit ground-bound and sluggish, and its enemies scale up weakly, making the final bits feel more annoying than challenging. I thought the combat was overly complicated considering the outcome of fighting outside of the most limited one-on-one engagements was certain death anyway. A simpler system with fewer special moves (or even no sword at all) would have sufficed. I could also have done without the running episodes but this is purely a matter of taste. Nonetheless the fundamental design is sound, the game is reasonably well made, and the art style is really lovely.