Games Reviews

Depart from Tradition: Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China Review

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Puching Zhang
Written by Puching Zhang

It could use more exploration features and some minigames. Puching Zhang delivers his Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China review right here …

aNewDomainPuching-Zhang-anewdomain — I always wondered why Ubisoft never set a main game in East Asia. Word on the forums was that Ubisoft thought there would be fan pressure to make the protagonist a girl, and she’d just become a form of fan service. But I loved the idea. I thought it would be so awesome to see her using epic martial arts skills to destroy everyone.

Well, it’s happening. Finally. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles is a three-game spinoff of the main Assassin’s Creed franchise. Its stories cover China, India and Russia. Here’s my Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China review.

Meet Shao Jun

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China is set in 1526, during the Ming Dynasty period. And it is centered around a female assassin named Shao Jun. Shao Jun isn’t someone new to the Assassins’ Creed storyline; You first me her in the short movie Assassin’s Creed Embers, where she meets up with old Ezio Auditore da Firenze for her training.

assassin's creed chronicles china reviewShao Jun has a cool new moveset, introduced in the movie with a classic Chinese Qing Dao sword and a hidden blade inside her shoe. (That’s my favorite part of her moveset).

She also has access to some really unique Chinese weapons, like an early version of the firecracker.

This highlights one of the things I love most about Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series. Each character has a unique moveset based on his or her culture. Connor had a tomahawk and other Native American tools in Assassin’s Creed III, remember? Of course Shao Jun has some awesome ancient Chinese secret weapons to play with.

Where’s the exploration?

The new moveset fits well into the gameplay, which has the same awesome fighting mechanics as the games in the main series. But there’s a major change in the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China game: It’s a side-scroller!

That’s a major shift, one that makes Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China unlike most of the other 3D games I know and love.

assassin's creed chroncles china reviewAssassin’s Creed Chronicles China does include many of the same fighting mechanics that the main series does, but I still wanted more from Ubisoft’s first Far East game.

Where’s the exploration? Where are the mini games? I mean, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China is set during the Ming Dynasty in China — the Chinese era of exploration — so you’d think it would at least include a naval mechanic or navigator Shao Jun could use to plunder the merchant ships of the Ming Imperial Navy.

Unfortunately, there’s almost no world exploration in this game. There aren’t any cool cutscenes between missions, either. What is up with that? Everything in Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China is reduced to measures of stealth.

Imperial China is a great setting and, with an awesome protagonist like Shao Jun, Ubisoft could have created a complex and entertaining world to explore. It didn’t — or it hasn’t, yet. This game has such potential.

Graphics

assassin's creed chroncles china reviewAs I said, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China is a simple side-scroller. But the graphics are actually pretty cool.

Instead of using the classic 3D open world graphics, this game instead ops for visuals that resemble ancient Chinese art.

The entire game is played in a watercolor setting. The killing mechanic and splattering of blood is done in a very cartoon-like fashion.

While normally I would say the graphics are below par for Ubisoft’s standards, considering where it’s set it fits.

The company made a bold leap away from what it knew, and it works here.

Bottom Line

Overall I will give Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China a seven out of 10. The game’s got a great protagonist and an interesting setting. Also, it is artistically unique. It does fall short of its potential in terms of world exploration, back story and mini games, though. Ubisoft sure missed an opportunity here to include an open world element for exploration. Also the levels are a bit repetitive.

Still, I recommend this game to any veteran of the Assassin’s Creed series and anyone who likes China or Chinese culture. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China is available now for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. It’s also only $9.99, as opposed to the usual sixty buck pricetag that Assassin’s Creed premier titles typically carry.

It’s nice to have a smaller game that’s still in the Assassin’s Creed world. And Shao Jun kind of rocks.

For aNewDomain, I’m Puching Zhang.

All screenshots: Courtesy of Ubisoft

About the author

Puching Zhang

Puching Zhang

Based in Chicago, Puching is gaming editor at aNewDomain and our sister pub, BreakingModern.com