Assassin’s Creed Mirage Review – Returning to Stealth Gaming Simplicity in the Assassin’s Creed Series

In the same year that witnessed the release of the first iPhone and Prince’s iconic halftime performance, where he literally performed Purple Rain amidst real rainfall, another significant cultural shift was underway: the debut of the first Assassin’s Creed game. While it garnered mixed reviews, not everyone was enamored with Ubisoft’s approach to blending stealth and action. However, there was a consensus that this game was pioneering something intriguing. Fast forward over 15 years, and the franchise’s numerous sequels have evolved, veering away from its stealth origins toward grander, more flashy spectacles. Along the way, some argue that they lost sight of the very essence that made Assassin’s Creed special from the start. Enter Assassin’s Creed Mirage, a title that takes deliberate, albeit imperfect, steps to return to its roots. While it may not introduce groundbreaking innovations, its dedication to delivering fast-paced missions and emphasizing stealth-heavy exploration fills a void that the RPG-focused entries failed to address. 

Assassin's Creed Mirage
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While not the most ambitious entry in the series, Assassin’s Creed Mirage rekindles hope that there’s still space for a version of Assassin’s Creed reminiscent of the series’ origins, which we haven’t seen in almost a decade.

Stealth Reigns Supreme in Assassin’s Creed Mirage

In Assassin’s Creed Mirage, stealth takes center stage once more, bringing back the thrill of lurking in the shadows. Unlike previous iterations, Mirage ditches the XP and character leveling system entirely, leveling the playing field against your enemies. Every foe is just a well-timed hidden blade away from meeting their doom if you play your cards right.

Most in-game areas offer a plethora of options to remain hidden, and the return of eagle scouting allows you to carefully survey your surroundings before making your next move. It’s a breath of fresh air to approach a situation and have to weigh your options based on the many intricacies of the scenario, rather than simply pondering if the loot is worth a mindless slaughter.

Assassin's Creed Mirage Review
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Mirage introduces formidable strongholds like high-security prisons and coastal fortresses, where guards maintain staggered patrols and overlapping sightlines. Especially in the early stages, the prospect of facing multiple adversaries simultaneously is a daunting one. To make progress toward well-defended objectives, players must rely on the shadows, precise timing, and the environment. More than in the pre-Origins games, I found myself making creative use of precariously hanging dock supplies and conveniently placed spice bags to sow enough chaos to achieve my goals.

Basim’s Origin Story in Mirage – A Mixed Bag

Having played all of the DLC expansions for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, I never once thought I would like to know about the origin story for Basim, the enigmatic frenemy of Eivor and Layla Hassan. However, I’ve invested nearly 20 hours in learning his history as he takes the lead role in Mirage, and the story hasn’t significantly altered my initial sentiments.

Basim’s journey from a plucky cutpurse with a heart of gold to a vengeful assassin feels rushed, almost like a fast-forwarded Hidden One’s tale in the series. His transformation from a life of petty crime to a skilled assassin seems abrupt. Even before the blood from his slain friends has a chance to dry, he’s trust-falling into haystacks and severing his own finger. He comes across as a fairly ordinary, agreeable, and affable man in his interpersonal relationships, consistently making morally sound choices without much internal conflict. While he’s by no means unlikable, he lacks the depth and intrigue that would have made his evolution into the scheming triple-crosser we met years ago more captivating. By the end, I still found myself questioning how this character became the complex figure we encountered in the series.

Basim’s Compact and Engaging Storyline in Mirage

Basim’s narrative in Mirage takes a departure from the sprawling, Witcher 3-inspired games of recent times, opting for a more concise and linear adventure. In my opinion, this streamlined approach enhances the overall experience. Your primary objectives begin with the investigation board, which serves as a hub for connecting leads and clues, all pointing towards your main targets.

Assassin's Creed Mirage Review
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The game smartly intertwines smaller tasks, such as identifying a local rebel leader or thwarting a spree of abductions, with more significant revelations. These revelations, in turn, propel you further up the chain of events, ultimately leading to your confrontation with the central conspiracy responsible for the chaos. While the investigation board might give the impression of open-endedness, as you can tackle tasks in various orders, the majority of them are essentially mandatory. Nevertheless, breaking down the storyline into manageable chunks that maintain clear and concise objectives greatly benefits the game’s pacing.

Mirage’s approach keeps players engaged by offering a sense of progression with each task completed, preventing the narrative from becoming overwhelming or losing its focus. It strikes a balance between exploration and direction, making for an enjoyable and well-paced gaming experience.

Basim’s Quest – A Familiar Yet Underwhelming Journey

While Basim’s quest in Mirage is more tightly focused, it falls somewhat short when compared to the depth and complexity of previous entries in the Assassin’s Creed series. The motivation that propels Basim into the world of assassination—revenge coupled with a higher calling—is a well-worn trope, and it has been explored in more captivating ways in earlier games.

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With the exception of perhaps the final four hours or so, Basim’s mission to hunt down members of the villainous Order of the Ancients feels somewhat basic and predictable. These antagonists, along with their henchmen, come across as staunchly and almost cartoonishly evil, lacking the nuance seen in some of the series’ more memorable foes. While it’s not necessarily problematic to depict your targets as straightforward villains in a game centered around justifiable assassinations, it’s still somewhat disappointing not to encounter another antagonist as multifaceted as Haytham Kenway or as delightfully unhinged as Rodrigo Borgia.

This simplicity extends to Basim’s allies, who largely fit the mold of the conspirators with good intentions archetype commonly found throughout the Assassin’s Creed series. With the exception of Basim’s mentor, Roshan, superbly brought to life by Shohreh Aghdashloo’s distinctive and smoky voice, the supporting cast in Mirage tends to be serviceable both in terms of character development and voice acting.

While Basim’s quest maintains a focused narrative, it misses the opportunity to introduce more depth and complexity into its characters and their motivations, leaving it somewhat less engaging than some of the series’ more memorable storylines.

Baghdad and Its Surroundings

Among my favorite characters, so to speak, is the city of Baghdad and its neighboring areas in Mirage. These different districts, from the bustling heart of the Round City to the dusty slums of Karkh, exude a bustling and lived-in atmosphere that harks back to the days of Unity or perhaps Syndicate in the series. The streets are teeming with people to blend in with, and the city blocks feature open homes you can dash through while evading pursuers—activities you’ll find yourself doing frequently, thanks to Mirage’s notoriety system.

Assassin's Creed Mirage Review
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In many ways, Baghdad feels like a throwback to the days of Ezio, offering a rich and immersive environment that scales the challenges based on your in-game activities. The more commotion you cause, the more effort the city’s authorities put into trying to apprehend you. Given the tight control exerted by the ruling caliph over the city, guards are practically on every corner, making it difficult to simply outrun them. When hiding isn’t an option, you can remove wanted posters and bribe town criers to clear your name. Mirage sets high expectations for evasion but provides you with numerous means to meet them.


While I can’t claim to be a scholar, I can’t definitively state whether Mirage’s real-world locations are more historically accurate than those in past games. However, it’s evident that the focus on uncovering historical sites seems more pronounced in this installment. Though there might not be singular monuments or landscapes that rival the awe-inspiring sights of The Great Pyramids in Origins or Athena’s Statue in Odyssey, the golden rolling dunes and tropical oases are undeniably beautiful. Moreover, the city and its outskirts are replete with alleys and hidden corners, making it a haven for collectors and explorers alike. Ubisoft’s decision to hone in on a smaller region has allowed for greater attention to detail, and this approach is undoubtedly a success.

Enhanced Tools and Stealth Abilities in Mirage

In Mirage, your array of tools takes on a prominent role, proving to be incredibly valuable, particularly during stealth operations. These tools truly shine, especially when you upgrade them to extend their effective ranges or grant them dramatic additional effects. One personal favorite of mine dissolves the bodies of foes I dispatch with a well-aimed throwing knife, erasing all evidence of the act. While not entirely realistic, it’s undeniably useful for a stealthy assassin.

Assassin's Creed Mirage Review
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Basim also possesses a unique stealth kill combo ability, akin to Red Dead Redemption’s Deadeye, allowing you to mark multiple targets and execute them in a stylish and somewhat unconventional manner. This ability proves invaluable for clearing rooms packed with guards who would be challenging to isolate through conventional means or for eliminating priority targets when direct confrontation is inevitable. It’s a potent ability, but it’s balanced by the requirement to charge a special meter through discreet kills done the old-fashioned way, and it can only be activated when you’re in an anonymous state.


However, while these gameplay enhancements shine, I can’t say that the locations you infiltrate in Mirage are notably better or more captivating than those seen in recent games. If you’ve navigated through one fortified location in an Assassin’s Creed title, you’ll find yourself well-prepared for the hallways, underground docks, and fortified walls you’ll encounter here. Guards remain relatively easy to manipulate, lacking basic self-preservation instincts when stumbling upon uncovered corpses you’ve left in your wake.

Innovative Approaches and Combat Dynamics in Mirage

Mirage introduces both fresh and returning methods to infiltrate and weaken fortifications, adding a layer of creativity to your stealth endeavors. For example, one of my favorite tactics involved bribing a merchant to disguise myself as one of their helpers, allowing me to saunter through a gate that would have otherwise remained off-limits. In a later section, a multitude of groups congregated in the courtyard of a wealthy target’s manor. Aiding a group of indentured individuals in staging a riot against their captor created enough chaos to draw the main target into the path of my blade. Such approaches not only breathe life into the game world but also draw inspiration from stealth assassination games like Hitman, adding depth and realism to the experience.

Assassins Creed Mirage Review
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When circumstances forced me into open combat, I found the combat system to be somewhat limited but nonetheless challenging. Basim employs a single combat style, wielding a sword and dagger combination that allows for a whirlwind of rapid and heavy strikes, forming short combos. The variety of swords and daggers at your disposal each comes with unique combat abilities that you can mix and match. For instance, one dagger may slow down time when you parry attacks, while a particular sword deals more damage with each successive strike in quick succession. While I didn’t find the differences between weapon options to drastically alter my playstyle, I can see how certain weapons, when fully upgraded and endowed with their most potent attributes, could prove vital, especially at higher difficulty levels than the standard one.


A similar story unfolds with your armor sets. While I seldom felt compelled to change my gear for gameplay reasons, I frequently switched outfits simply because Mirage boasts a visually appealing array of gear options. The game’s emphasis on fashion adds an extra layer of personalization to Basim’s character and style.

Deliberate Combat – A Refreshing Change in Mirage

Mirage presents a combat system that’s notably slower and more methodical compared to what we’ve grown accustomed to, especially when transitioning from Valhalla’s wide array of weapon types and special attacks. However, I personally found Mirage’s combat approach, which places a heavy emphasis on countering and dodging incoming attacks, to be highly satisfying.

Assassin's Creed Mirage Review
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One of Mirage’s standout features is the unpredictable attack patterns exhibited by enemies, coupled with the high damage they inflict in melee combat. Unlike adversaries who patiently wait their turn to strike, attackers in Mirage don’t hesitate, often necessitating quick evasion of multiple swings simultaneously. Engaging with more than two or three guards at a time can become an oppressive ordeal, adding to the tension and challenge.

Despite the limited number of enemy types—regular soldiers, larger armored soldiers that cannot be directly damaged, and elite hunters sent after you when your notoriety reaches its peak—the diversity lies in the weapons they wield. For instance, a heavy soldier equipped with a mace poses a different kind of threat than one wielding a greatsword. This variety keeps you on your toes, requiring you to remain aware and adjust your tactics accordingly. Mirage’s combat, while reminiscent of earlier entries in the series, distinguishes itself as one of the game’s most notable and welcome changes.


Mirage’s combat may feel slower and more deliberate compared to its predecessors, but it offers a fresh and challenging experience that prioritizes defensive maneuvers, countering, and adapting to the unique threats posed by different enemy types and their weapons.

A Streamlined and Impactful Ability System in Mirage

Mirage introduces a streamlined ability tree that significantly influences your preferred playstyle. Divided into three branches—focused on killing, scouting, and gadgets—this tree features only seven skills to unlock in each category, but each skill has a profound impact on your gameplay.

Assassin's Creed Mirage Review
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Some abilities enhance your existing skills, allowing you to perform tasks like pinpointing objectives and targets with greater speed and precision. Others reintroduce features that felt like default abilities in earlier games, such as the ability to roll over enemies to change your facing. Every upgrade I invested in proved worthwhile, enhancing my overall proficiency in the game. Moreover, the ability to respec all your skill points at any time for free means you’re always just a few minutes away from experimenting with a new character build.

Mirage’s streamlined ability system may have fewer skills to unlock, but each one has a significant and meaningful impact on your gameplay, allowing you to tailor your character to your preferred playstyle with ease. This flexibility ensures that you can continually adapt and refine your character’s abilities to suit your evolving needs and strategies.


Assassin’s Creed Mirage marks a deliberate return to the stealthy origins of the series, and while it doesn’t get everything perfect, every aspect feels meticulously crafted with intent. This approach results in a game that’s shorter in duration, features a more compact map, fewer collectibles, a streamlined combat experience, and a limited selection of gear—qualities I found refreshing in contrast to the potentially bloated scale of 100-hour games like Odyssey and Valhalla.

The game’s narrative may lean toward oversimplification, featuring a plot that lacks significant depth and mostly forgettable characters. However, it compensates for this with a straightforward quest progression and brisk pacing. While there might not be a single standout wow moment, the city of Baghdad itself is a beautiful location, and the world is richly detailed, with a focus on creating a sense of well-traveled history in every alley and hovel.

I would recommend Mirage, especially to those who may have drifted away from the Assassin’s Creed series. Its return to basics successfully recaptures the essence of the earlier, industry-defining games that initially drew us into this captivating world.

FAQs for Assassin’s Creed Mirage:

Q1: What is Assassin’s Creed Mirage?

A1: Assassin’s Creed Mirage is the latest installment in the popular Assassin’s Creed video game series. It aims to return to the series’ stealth-focused roots while offering a more compact and streamlined experience.

Q2: How does Assassin’s Creed Mirage emphasize stealth?

A2: Mirage puts a strong focus on stealth gameplay. It removes the XP and leveling system, making every enemy a potential threat that can be eliminated through stealthy approaches. Players have various options to remain hidden and can scout their surroundings with an eagle’s eye view.

Q3: What can players expect from Basim’s storyline in Mirage?

A3: Basim’s storyline in Mirage is relatively concise and linear compared to recent Assassin’s Creed games. The game revolves around investigating leads and clues to uncover a central conspiracy, maintaining a clear and focused narrative.

Q4: Is Basim’s quest in Mirage engaging?

A4: Basim’s quest in Mirage is focused but lacks the depth and complexity seen in some of the series’ earlier storylines. The motivation for Basim’s journey is somewhat predictable, and the characters and villains are relatively straightforward.

Q5: How is the setting in Assassin’s Creed Mirage described?

A5: The city of Baghdad and its surrounding areas in Mirage are vivid and lively, offering a richly detailed environment reminiscent of earlier games in the series. The game’s attention to historical accuracy and exploration is more pronounced in this installment.

Q6: What tools and stealth abilities are available in Mirage?

A6: Mirage introduces a variety of tools and abilities that enhance the stealth experience. These tools, when upgraded, offer unique advantages, such as dissolving bodies or marking multiple targets for swift takedowns.

Q7: How does the combat system in Mirage differ from previous games?

A7: Mirage’s combat system is slower and more methodical, emphasizing defensive maneuvers, countering, and adapting to enemy types and their weapons. It offers a fresh and challenging experience compared to its predecessors.

Q8: Tell me more about the ability system in Assassin’s Creed Mirage.

A8: Mirage features a streamlined ability tree with three branches focused on killing, scouting, and gadgets. While there are fewer skills to unlock, each skill significantly impacts gameplay, allowing players to tailor their character to their preferred playstyle.

Q9: Is Assassin’s Creed Mirage recommended for fans of the series?

A9: Yes, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is recommended for fans who prefer a return to the series’ stealth-focused origins. It offers a more compact and well-paced experience, which may be refreshing compared to previous lengthy entries like Odyssey and Valhalla.

Q10: What are some standout features of Assassin’s Creed Mirage?

A10: Standout features of Mirage include its emphasis on stealth, a richly detailed setting in Baghdad, a streamlined ability system, and a slower and more deliberate combat experience, which together create a unique and enjoyable gaming experience.

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