Unleashing a vibrant dance of history, adventure, and stealth upon the gaming world, the Assassin’s Creed franchise has left an indelible mark on countless players worldwide. Our journey through this riveting universe begins here, with “Silent Shadows: 15 Greatest Assassin’s Creed Games of All Time.” Prepare to traverse through time, skulking in the unseen corners of history, as we unravel the intricate tapestry of tales woven by this phenomenal franchise.
From bustling bazaars of ancient Egypt to the rain-drenched rooftops of Renaissance Italy, every entry is a testament to the craft of storytelling, the thrill of the hunt, and the profound allure of the unknown. Brace yourself for a compelling journey into the shadows, as we count down the most memorable, impactful, and undeniably extraordinary adventures in the Assassin’s Creed saga.
As the middle chapter in the three-part micro-epic known as Assassin’s Creed Chronicles, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India stands as the franchise’s pioneering venture into the former British Empire’s prized possession, widely referred to as the Jewel in the Crown. Regrettably, the breadth of this vibrant landscape is hardly touched upon, given the limited exploration scope dictated by the protagonist Arbaaz’s linear, 2.5D trajectory. However, the deficiency of expansive exploration is partially compensated for by the stunning vistas and an engaging, albeit confined, sense of locomotion.
The game, sadly, is plagued with several substantial drawbacks. The gameplay often devolves into monotonous, poorly planned missions that rob players of a satisfying experience. The supposed stealth ‘alternative’ morphs into a quasi-obligation, delivering punitive outcomes for players who dare to venture into combat for a much-needed adrenaline rush. This punishment takes the form of debasing scores or outright failure, which is particularly disheartening since these points play a crucial role in obtaining significant upgrades.
Ill-conceived efforts to induce a sense of tension, such as inexplicably reducing Arbaaz’s running speed, only contribute to mounting frustration and the pacing seems inelegant, making the game seem tediously extended. In comparison to its predecessor, Chronicles China, Chronicles India pales in almost every facet, making it a game you could readily skip without remorse.
Assassin’s Creed Unity
In contrast to the drunken gait of the seafaring Edward Kenway from Black Flag, Assassin’s Creed Unity signified a homecoming to the foundational ethos of the original Assassin’s Creed series. Bearing the distinction of being the inaugural AC game exclusively released for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 (not forgetting the PC version), Assassin’s Creed Unity showcased graphic prowess unheard of during its time, and dazzled players with densely populated NPC crowds. However, it’s unveiling proved to be a rocky journey.
A rampant infestation of bugs and glitches, coupled with an excessively congested map, led a portion of the player base to abandon the game prematurely. However, those who persevered were rewarded with the rich historical milieu of the French Revolution, revolutionary new mobility mechanisms that significantly eased the navigation of buildings, and intricately designed assassination missions that offered a variety of challenges. The meticulously detailed representation of Notre Dame, in all its architectural splendor, alone validates the investment in AC Unity.
Assassin’s Creed Pirates
The audacity to repurpose a mini-game from an earlier title into a standalone game can only be derived from a profound sense of accomplishment. And that’s precisely the wave Ubisoft was riding following the applause for Black Flag in late 2013, leading to the birth of Assassin’s Creed Pirates. Essentially, it is a mobile reincarnation of Black Flag’s naval warfare, designed for the gamer on the move.
Despite the developers’ attempt to stay true to the spirit of the Assassin’s Creed franchise with an interwoven narrative featuring Assassins, Templars, and mystical time-traveling DNA machines, the game’s core lies in relentless ship-to-ship cannon combat. The majority of the game time is spent launching cannonballs at rival vessels, mostly without a concrete reason.
Acknowledging this reality, the game’s designers invested considerable effort in refining the combat experience and ensuring the touch controls felt instinctive and easy. Despite ranking lower in the grand hierarchy of Assassin’s Creed games due to its derivative nature, the exceptional design of its combat mechanics deserves worthy accolades.
The inception of the illustrious Assassin’s Creed franchise may not appear as polished now as it did upon its release over eight years ago, yet it still manages to maintain its charm. Essentially a technological demonstration of what the franchise would eventually evolve into, the original Assassin’s Creed hands you a singular mission (assassination, in case it wasn’t apparent) and repeats this task tenfold, interspersed with only the most monotonous of sidequests for variation. Many of the elements that earned it critical acclaim during its initial launch have lost their luster, given the progression in graphics and Ubisoft’s refinement of controls to minimize unintentional wall-climbing.
However, the inaugural Assassin’s Creed installment holds a special place within the franchise’s annals due to its pure approach: you gather all possible information about your target, devise a plan for the assassination, and then proceed to execute it. The high-profile missions do inject some variety since each target exhibits unique behaviors demanding different strategies. Although it might seem basic in comparison to its successors, and despite subsequent titles arguably delivering a superior experience, the original game still holds relevance today.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China
Out of all the Chronicles spin-offs, the maiden voyage into the vibrant world of China undoubtedly takes the crown. It introduces players to a setting that is perfectly suited for the Assassin’s Creed narrative for the first time. The central protagonist, Shao Jun, is noted for being one of the earliest female Assassins playable within the franchise. Her character also received commendations for presenting an authentic depiction of an Asian character and for her deeply rooted, relatable backstory.
Veering away from the expansive open-world design of the core titles, Chronicles: China adopts a more linear side-scrolling action/stealth format, offering a delightful respite from the sometimes overwhelming vastness of the main games. Its average Metacritic score of 69 signifies its limitations, but it could have fared much worse. There is no compelling reason for hardcore Assassin’s Creed fans to pass up on the opportunity to experience Chronicles: China.
Assassin’s Creed 3
Following the charming and roguish Ezio, the protagonist of Assassin’s Creed 2 who captured players’ hearts through three games, the transition to Connor Kenway felt comparatively uninspiring. Assassin’s Creed 3 brought innovative concepts to the table, and the combat mechanics were significantly improved, but it fell short of reaching the high standards set by its predecessor.
The narrative, unfolding against the backdrop of the American Revolution, with the Assassins and Templars choosing their allegiances, was captivating. The familial tensions between Connor and his father, Haythem, were portrayed convincingly. In many respects, Haythem, with his more amiable character, added a new dimension to the series by providing a relatable antagonist for the first time. Furthermore, the chance to play a character who is of mixed Native American heritage, and deeply connected to the land being contested, was an impactful experience.
However, AC3’s Achilles’ heel lies in the sections of modern-day story and gameplay, which punctuated the primary narrative and gradually spiraled into the realm of absurdity. The conclusion halted the series’ forward momentum, pushing Ubisoft to engage in some serious introspection about the series’ direction and the form its subsequent installment would take. Thankfully, they nailed it in their next endeavor.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Every Assassin’s Creed game is defined as much by its unique settings as its main characters, and Syndicate’s depiction of Victorian London in the middle of industrial revolution may be the most striking yet. Stealthily navigating around factories, commanding horse-drawn carriages in exhilarating street races, and even confronting the infamous Jack the Ripper, Syndicate’s environment, although filled with elements of fantasy, gives a palpable sense of reality.
The atmospheric music from Austin Wintory, renowned for his work on Journey, further enhances this authenticity. Unlike any other score in the series, the distinct soundtracks for each of the co-protagonists, Jacob and Evie Fry, provide a subtle but meaningful touch that weaves Syndicate’s world together seamlessly. Moreover, few games since Bloodborne can rival the satisfying combat mechanics that allow you to fight fiercely with nothing more than a cane.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
In the world of popular gaming, the vast majority of characters fall between the ages of 15 and 35. Beyond that, they might as well vanish, as silver-haired protagonists are as rare as unicorns. Assassin’s Creed Revelations takes a bold deviation from this norm with Ezio Auditore, who not only defies this age convention but does so impressively, all thanks to an excellently crafted narrative. Revelations weaves one of the series’ most profound and mature stories, setting a high benchmark for all future Assassin’s Creed narratives.
However, not all aspects of the game reach these lofty heights. Constantinople, as a backdrop, comes off as rather mundane and forgettable, and the newly-introduced tower-defense mini-game for territory claim leaves much to be desired. Nevertheless, the strength of Revelations’ storytelling, dealing with themes of sacrifice and loss in a gut-wrenchingly sincere way, compensates for these shortcomings. The emotional narrative offers a poignant resolution to the journeys of both Ezio and Altair, demonstrating the power of unconventional storytelling in gaming.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue
Being one of the two games launched in 2014, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue’s final mission intriguingly serves as a preamble to Unity. The game, set against the backdrop of the Seven Years’ War, unfolds the journey of Shay Patrick Cormac, a former Assassin who turns Templar, in his pursuit of exacting revenge on the Brotherhood members who betrayed him.
Rogue received “mixed or average reviews” on Metacritic, with a weighted average score of 72. Its most lauded feature was the unexpected twist of allowing players to adopt the role of a Templar rather than an Assassin, offering a refreshing change in perspective, along with the intriguing complexity of the central character. However, the game’s sailing mechanics didn’t quite measure up to those in Black Flag, and the storyline was generally predictable, leaving room for improvement in terms of innovation and surprise.
- Also Read: Gord Review – Surviving the Grim Darkness
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
In the grand tapestry of the Assassin’s Creed narrative, Brotherhood presents an enchanting continuation of Ezio Auditore da Firenze’s saga. His captivating persona has solidified him as a beloved figure among the franchise’s fanbase. Instead of offering an array of different locations like Assassin’s Creed 2, Brotherhood focuses on expanding upon Rome and its surrounding landscapes, creating an immersive, more concentrated experience.
Brotherhood builds upon the innovative mechanics introduced in its predecessor, such as swimming, managing properties, utilizing firearms, and recruiting allies. The installment paints a vibrant picture of Ezio’s life, brimming with charm, humor, and compelling drama. Enhanced combat mechanics allow players to embody the assertive, battle-ready assassin they’ve always aspired to be.
The introduction of multiplayer in Brotherhood was another significant first for the series. It provided an exciting opportunity for players to experience the thrill of Templar life and test their assassin or hunter skills against their friends. While it might not have pushed the boundaries as far as its predecessor did, Brotherhood still holds a special place in many hearts as one of the franchise’s finest entries.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
In this world, there are those who find joy in stealthily lurking in hay piles awaiting unsuspecting foes, and there are those who revel in the chaos of storming castle gates with fiery battering rams. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla caters to both these types of individuals. By reviving the essence of the Brotherhood through a dedicated ‘Hidden Ones’ facility in your settlement of Ravensthorpe, Valhalla reintroduces the heart of the series while seamlessly retaining the allure of the more recent installments.
Every action in this expansive, stunning world holds significance. The sweeping narrative encompasses everything from mini-world events to selecting regional leaders, from crashing longships onto shores for thrilling pillages to encountering characters who subtly carve their way into your heart. The campaign is a rich tapestry of emotional threads and challenges, woven together to form a saga that commands your investment. Between poignant narratives, it’s worthwhile to pause and appreciate the spectacular world-building that Valhalla offers.
The game presents an almost overwhelming array of options, from exploring mythical realms and foreign lands to mastering new combat techniques and sprawling skill trees. Eivor’s journey in England represents a compelling ascent to glory. Regardless of your preferred activities – be it fishing, wolf-riding, treasure hunting, or engaging in epic battles – Valhalla provides a universe where all these facets coexist harmoniously. The choice is yours: select your weapons, identify your targets, track them down, and come back the next day for an entirely different adventure. Valhalla’s brilliance is both relentless and awe-inspiring.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
With Black Flag, the Assassin’s Creed franchise took a daring leap, steering significantly away from the gameplay patterns of previous entries. Set against the backdrop of the 18th-century Caribbean during the notorious Golden Age of Piracy, Black Flag offers a heavy dose of seafaring action, combining strategic elements with exploration. The narrative orbits around the Welsh pirate Edward Kenway, brought to life by Matt Ryan’s voice, who inadvertently entangles himself in the ongoing Assassin/Templar conflict.
Black Flag’s daring deviation from the traditional Assassin’s Creed template was both intriguing and triumphant. Its expansive open world may catapult players from one mission to another, but the scope and the sense of adventure it brings were seen as exciting shifts for the series. The game’s expansion on Assassin’s Creed 3’s naval gameplay resonated well with fans and received critical acclaim. With a noteworthy Metacritic score of 85, Black Flag was commended across all its versions, with the PlayStation 3 edition emerging as the most highly-rated.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Revitalizing the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Origins emerged as the rejuvenating force the series needed following AC Syndicate. Ubisoft made the strategic choice to break away from the yearly or even biannual release cycle, instead allowing more time for each game’s development. This decision was warmly welcomed by the fans, as Origins brought a refreshing change to the series, akin to a cool gust of wind sweeping across the desert.
This installment revamped almost every facet of the series: combat systems were refined, environmental designs enhanced, parkour mechanics were polished, and the story structure was thoughtfully revised. In a nod to the increasingly popular genre, Origins also introduced a handful of RPG elements, often feeling more akin to a Witcher game than a traditional Assassin’s Creed title.
Set in ancient Egypt amidst the turmoil of the Ptolemaic Wars, Origins takes full advantage of its historical backdrop, both in gameplay and narrative. Players assume the role of a Medjay during Cleopatra’s reign under Roman rule, tasked with the thrilling duty of eliminating her adversaries. The game downplays the series’ overused modern-day segments, infusing new life into the age-old conflict between the Assassins and the Templars by unveiling the enigmatic Hidden Ones and their sinister intentions.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey builds on the combat style and newfound emphasis on role-playing introduced in Origins, combining these elements with a vibrant setting in Ancient Greece, a land embroiled in the war between Athens and Sparta. The result is an expansive and lively game filled with some of the series’ most breathtaking landscapes both on land and sea. Odyssey marks the delightful return of naval warfare to the franchise.
Odyssey brings a novel twist to the notoriety system of Assassin’s Creed, resulting in nerve-wracking chases across diverse environments as you become a hunted target. The introduction of the nation struggle system allows players to participate in large-scale battles, aligning themselves either with Athens or Sparta. Despite its substantial runtime, which could exceed 60 hours, Odyssey manages to maintain an engaging narrative interspersed with quirky side quests, led by an immensely charming protagonist, irrespective of the player’s choice of gender. The game’s world continues to offer ample treasures to uncover and adventures to embark upon, even after the main story concludes. Simply existing in Odyssey’s world is an absolute pleasure.
Assassin’s Creed 2
Assassin’s Creed 2 is more than just a game; it’s an epoch in the Assassin’s Creed timeline that holds the crown as the franchise’s finest offering. So, what elevated this 2009 classic to such high regard? The answer lies in its thorough refinement of all aspects of gameplay. Taking the underwhelming mechanics of its predecessor, Assassin’s Creed 2 injected life, making the series more vibrant and immersive.
From the moment Ezio enters the world (with players manipulating his infant limbs via gamepad buttons), the game presents a narrative packed with emotion and a universe so vast that it feels like a child’s dream come true – albeit a rather violent one. Set in the Italian Renaissance, cities like Florence, Rome, and Venice become your playground, each unveiling fresh aspects of gameplay as the story unfolds.
Assassin’s Creed 2 continues to captivate players even after the main story, offering hidden blades, undiscovered tombs nestled beneath Italian cities, and an enchanting soundtrack by Jesper Kyd. The charm of Ezio, coupled with additional missions enriching the world and the pursuit of an ideal Monteriggioni, come together to make Assassin’s Creed 2 a true representation of the franchise’s promise. Modern day elements are introduced, ushering players into the 21st-century Assassin order and setting in motion a chain of events that would influence future AC games. In essence, Assassin’s Creed 2 was a near-perfect rendition of the franchise.