Conceptually at least, Assassin’s Creed is a brilliant idea. The noying science fiction thread weaving all these together means Ubisoft has a spacious library to pool from. The ideas end when the history does. However, even the variations of time haven’t stopped Assassin’s Creed from getting stale. Another year brings another game in another period, doing little to hide the resemblance.
It seems Ubisoft has been reserving the less popular parts of history for its Chronicles series; China during the Ming Dynasty, India in the 19th century, and Russia during World War One. This series obviously differs from the main line being 2.5D - the marketing phrase coined several years ago to describe two dimensional gameplay set among 3D models. The difference between the late Chronicles: China, and the newly released India is almost naught, however.
Moving from left to right isn’t strictly accurate, as evading guards primarily requires you move between different layers. Shimmying through the foreground from a ledge, or waiting in a bush from the background - guards will only see you if you’re directly within sight. You’ll certainly know whether you are, as every sentry has a Metal Gear vision cone sticking from their face. Navigating a multiplex of moving spheres and inquisitive rectangles makes the game feel like a geometry disco.
It’s not without challenge, mind you. India’s idea of escalating difficulty often means “more security”, so you’ll be ducking and dashing your way between curious view lines with patient awareness. When you are caught, India gives you the means to handle one guard at most, but in this game every enemy has low self-esteem, and will call for help like a child lost at the mall.
So Assassin’s Creed: India is the stealthier of the lot, and arguably the prettiest. Character models are traditionally rendered, while the environments are cel-shaded - lending well to India’s desert heat waves and cities of baked brick.
I typically say small games don’t have to be light on story (Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, anybody?), and I don’t mind when they have little either. However I do mind when a game is seemingly trying to present a big story and doesn’t do so. India tries tellings its tale almost solely through short cut scenes. It’s one thing to have nice environments, but that doesn’t mean they’ll help your story, and unfortunately India’s is relegated to a brief collection of films. A supposedly significant part of Assassin’s Creed’s epic lore is constricted by its own small ideas of storytelling - a missed opportunity amongst such rich history and culture.
What I have always appreciated about the Assassin’s Creed series, is tangential learning; self-motivated education by exposing someone to topics in a context they enjoy. You might simply want to play the entire game through, or you could benefit by reading about the people, things, and places Ubisoft bother to include. Even if I didn’t read any of those, merely playing a game set in a historical period makes me want to do my own reading on the subject; and whether by design or inadvertently, Assassin’s Creed does it better than most.
After game’s end, there’s little else to do. If you’re the kind that’s wants longevity (then you’re looking in a weird place), the game does have New Game Plus modes of varying difficulties, allowing your abilities to follow. There are some challenge rooms, though honestly this is not a game you’re likely to play past the credits. Any post-game options are largely there in obligation.
Like it always has, your fandom with Assassin’s Creed will determine your level of interest. Despite being a side-show from the annual attractions, it’s still business as usual. Standard stealth with a null story amidst an interesting and unventured historical period. Like me, that last part may be enough to entice. Just don’t expect the former to feel as novel.