Every year, you know exactly what to expect from an Assassin’s Creed game. A massive open world, parkour that fails at the worst possible time and cinematic assassinations. There’s a set formula to Ubisoft’s massive franchise, one that builds on an odd story of precursors to human civilisation and an arms race across millennia for massively advanced technology that the Templar and Brotherhood orders are frothing at the mouth for.
And then there’s the Chronicles series. Coming in at around one half under the usual three dimensions of action, the Chronicles detail the rise and fall of other notable Assassins during the course of human history, from Shao Jun in 16th century China through to Arbaaz Mir during the turbulent 1800s of India. Making up the final part of that unholy trinity is Nikolai Orelov, witness to the October Revolution that saw Russia violently ditch its monarchy for a few decades of Marxism gone awry.
It’s Assassin’s Creed without all the heavy lore, distilled to a sneaky essence of stealth and action. Orelov’s chapter is a gripping one, as it weaves a tale of a disillusioned Assassin seeking peace and a fresh start away from his Russian homeland. To do that, he’s going to need to complete one more mission for the brotherhood of Assassins. Naturally, things go pear-shaped and Orelov finds himself battling proletariat armies as he protects the last survivor of a dynasty that the peasants are determined to get retribution on.
Just like the previous Chronicles games, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia is all about combining stealth and action into a tight and seamless flow of energy. It’s also mind-numbingly difficult, to the point where you’re going to need to reinforce your windows with enough mesh to survive having a controller hurled at it in a fit of anger. Here’s a list of tasks that’s easier than finishing a memory sequence in Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia without dying once:
- Organising lunch for the EFF and ANC Youth League
- Getting Zuma to pay back all the money
- A Friday where I don’t post about Xur
- Getting Roman Reigns over with the fans
- Valve giving a definite release date for Half-Life 3
- Ubisoft releasing a game that doesn’t have superfluous amounts of DLC attached to it
- Getting the Rand back on equal footing with the US Dollar
- Making the Johannesburg post office customs department efficient again
- Avoiding spoilers for Game of Thrones
- Being taller than Matty
- A comic book convention without Deadpool cosplayers running rampant
- Reasonable gun control laws in the US
- Bringing Futurama back to TV again. Again
Jokes aside, the difficulty spike in Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia borders on masochsitic. Nothing other than a perfect run will reward you with progress. Anything less, and you’re going to be reloading like crazy as you work your way into a methodical pattern of just what to do as you find yourself on the wrong end of Marxism yet again.
Timed missions add more to this headache, with Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia making a concerted effort to kill you as ruthlessly as possible. Locking away helpful upgrades behind perfect runs which net the right amount of points required to purchase them doesn’t help the flow of Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia either.
And that difficulty spike is a shame, because there’s a damn good game lurking behind it, ready to pounce. With two assassins to play through as, there’s some fantastic variety available here. Orelov has a blunter approach, while Anastasia’s hidden talents make her a deadly shadow for the patient killer. Combat may not be viable in hand-to-hand scenarios, but making your escape with smoke bombs or eliminating threats with a well-timed 303 slug from a Lee Enfield is still brutally satisfying.
It’s the action-orientated puzzles that really shine through the stark red menace visuals that are the brightest, as you work out the best approach possible to avoid seeing yet another black screen of death. Environments where you need to adapt or die and a very fluid control scheme help make for a very polished action-stealth challenge if you can get past the monumentally difficult obstacles in your path in Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia.
Last Updated: February 9, 2016