Even as a fan of the Assassin’s Creed series, it’s difficult to get excited about yet another sojourn to the same time period and era. With a history of a new (sometimes disappointing) Assassin’s Creed release each year, it’s understandable why excitement wouldn’t be the first item on even a die hard Assassin’s Creed fan’s list.
That’s why Assassin’s Creed Identity is a bit of an anomaly. By all accounts, it’s a very typical, run of the mill excursion for the series. It’s serviceable, familiar, and can be fun, but it simply feels extraneous. Why did it need to be made?
Assassin’s Creed Identity is bizarre in several ways, from its watered down gameplay to the fact that it’s basically the same exact game you could play via console if you wanted, only with less bells and whistles, and the open world appeal missing. Perhaps to ensure it doesn’t feel much different or like a departure from the rest of the series, it’s split into levels, where you complete objectives in a smaller sandbox instead of being given free reign of the entire world. It’s a little jarring to be unleashed into these bite-sized areas time and time again, but at least they look and feel good while you’re playing.
It’s your job while in the Italian Renaissance to solve the “Mystery of the Crows,” which is meted out through narrative text instead of satisfying cut scenes as seen in the console game equivalents, which is where the game immediately falters: not serving up a real or engaging plot to keep you focused. It feels quite slapdash, especially when combined with the barebones and simplified parkour the series popularized.
You needn’t think much, as your character will automatically climb to the top of buildings, jump when required, and act as an autonomous version of the player character from the other games. It’s not difficult at all, so I’m not sure why it should be priced as a premium title when most of it feels so phoned in. Additionally, there are multiple types of currency in-game, including premium currency that feels offensive to see since the game already sports a $5 entry price. It’s a little ridiculous to think that there’d still be content hidden behind a paywall.
Keeping up with the simplistic theme, Identity treats progression through the game gated in a most frustrating way. Access to the next area after you complete a level is tied to your XP, so like in several other mobile games that have gone down the same path, if you didn’t earn enough the first time around through a level, it’s going to be up to you to grind it out and complete it all again. I’m not a fan of replaying linear missions that I just finished, so this detracted from the experience for me in a massive way. Plus, there’s just not enough going on for me to want to replay the game after it’s all said and done, let alone right after I just played a level.
Assassin’s Creed Identity is not a terrible game mechanically, but it’s not fantastic either. It suffers on the grounds that it was ever conceived, to be honest. It’s not a game we really needed, and not a game that further expands the universe by offering a mobile option. It also commits some of the most cardinal sins of mobile games related to popular console franchises: It oversimplifies, costs too much to include premium currency, and it’s lackluster. I’d rather see another Assassin’s Creed every year than lackluster mobile translations, which is all this amounts to.