Ubisoft have unquestionably doubled down on the Assassin’s Creed franchise, but never more so than this year.

Not only did we start the year off with a HD remake of former Vita exclusive, Liberation, for the first time we’re also getting two major console releases at once in the upcoming Unity and Rogue.

And now, to cap it all off, we have Assassin’s Creed: Memories, a mobile-only free-to-play card game, offering a completely new direction for the franchise.

But rather than show off the flexibility and diversity of the franchise, Memories starts to show cracks on the surface. Are the effects of oversaturation finally starting to take their toll?

acmemories3Memories focuses on the side assassin missions the series has been developing ever since Brotherhood. You lead a group of Assassin’s across the ages by sending them off on missions, such as synchronising viewpoints, pick-pocketing and performing contracts. Performing these actions will earn your guild gold and AP which can then be used to augment weaponry, gain additional cards and purchase additional items.

The majority of the action takes place on a map-like grid, similar to ones seen in Black Flag. Here, you select a point of interest – which varies from a series of missions, to a handful of gold – and aim to remove all points of interest on one grid before moving onto the next. The player has a certain amount of stamina which they can use across missions, but once that runs out, the player will either need to use a stamina boost or purchase more through the Animus Store.

Fortunately, when you first install the game, you receive a series of stamina packs for free, but once they’re gone, you’ll need to stump up the cash for more.

acmemories1The game is fairly generous in the giving department. The downtime between missions isn’t excessive and you do get offered quite a few freebies, especially during the game’s launch week. In terms of free-to-play games, Ubisoft seem to have struck a fair balance with Memories.

Objectives have a percentage rating attached to them. If you see 100% next to the mission, you’ll pass it without question, but the lower the percentage gets, the less likely you are to beat that mission. Fortunately, you can hack the objectives through the Animus, and make everything beatable for five minutes, or until your stamina runs out. The more objectives you pass, the more experience you gain, the further you level up and the more AP and gold you earn.

acmemories2Beat a certain amount of objectives and your historical Assassin will find their target. Whether you’re Ezio, Conor, Altair or Edward Kenway, you have to chase down the target by tapping the screen repeatedly, tackle them to the ground and finish the job. Completing your contract will allow you to shift between time periods and see the story progress. The time period shifts aren’t connected, rather they show key historical moments within that Assassin’s timeline.

You’ll also have ally missions where you can send out specialist guild members to work on major missions, again, much like the main Creed titles, but these can take anywhere up to 7 hours to complete, meaning that individual will be unavailable.

Weapons and armour can also be augmented and upgraded by combining cards together. Cards vary from guild members, to hats, shirts, and shields. These help with the guild v guild battles which take you online and against other people’s upgraded guilds and fighters.

There’s a surprisingly deep and rewarding game to be found here, though not one that really grips you or is particularly memorable. It lacks the substance and staying power of other mobile games in the series like Assassin’s Creed Pirates, but it’s an experiment that works well and does better than one might expect.