Game Ramblings #9 – Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China

More Info from Ubisoft

  • Genre: Stealth Action
  • Platform: PS4
  • Also Available On: Xbox One, PC (Uplay)

This is going to seem like a fairly negative review, but for me it’s with good reason.  Assassin’s Creed Chronicles has a lot of the makings of a great 2D stealth action game, and even more so, has a lot of the great makings of a game that fans of Metroidvania style games would enjoy.  Environmental traversal feels great, stealth kills feel great, combat feels great.  In particular, the combat allows for really smooth transitions between defensive and offensive maneuvers to allow for rapid kills that nearly feel rhythmic in their execution.  Visually, the game also is fantastic, with each of the Chronicles trilogy having their own unique visual style.  That said, I never got that far into the pack, and for me it was the feeling that the game was getting in my way that caused me to stop playing.

One of the core parts of the China episode is that the player gets scored based on their actions within segments of the level, then at the end of the level they can gain upgrades, whether that be health bars, ammo pack upgrades, etc.  However, the way the scoring was done actively forced me into a specific play style to maximize the score I was getting, and killed my reasons for pushing forward.

The maximum score for segments of the levels can be achieved in one way; never being seen, never killing anyone, and never setting off any traps around the level.  What this meant for me is that I could never use the fantastic combat system that they had implemented, I could never even stealth kill enemies even if they never saw me, and any progress through levels became a slow series of waiting in a hiding spot until the perfect opportunity arrived to move forward without being caught.

While I am all for having a full stealth option, at the end of the day the things that have always been the most fun for me in the Assassin’s series are being able to do stupid things like jumping off a roof to assassinate unsuspecting enemies, then sending throwing knives into the people responding.  The China Chronicles episode actively worked against doing anything resembling that style of gameplay.  For players that enjoy full on combat, it’s even worse as combat is by far the lowest scoring option of the three.

At the end of the day, the China Chronicles game is a game that is frustratingly close to being great.  Given the chance, equal scoring for the three paths would have at minimum allowed me to play as I want, and probably have resulted in me playing through all three of the trilogy, rather than stopping at the first.  For me, the Assassin’s games have always represented a series that largely allows you to play as you want, as long as you get to the end goal.  Sure you may miss some optional bonuses, but the core of the objective was always achievable.  In this case, China has gone so far down the route of sticking to the full-stealth option that I just couldn’t bring myself to want to keep playing, and that’s kind of an unfortunate end result.

Quick Update

Sorry for not really posting at all in the last 9 months or so.  One of my intents in having this up was to better articulate what my thoughts are on games I was completing as I got through them.  At the same time, I started to stream as a way to actively live alongside of this.  In the end, I’ve done a much better job of keeping up with the streaming than I have the writing.

I do have some posts that I want to write up here in an attempt to get back into some sort of flow, but given my lack of posts of late, I don’t want to stick to anything solid at this time.  We’ll see what comes of this site, and it may be that I just write when I’m annoyed enough about a game to rant for a while, but for now the plan is to at least give it another try.


Game Ramblings #8 – Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

More Info from Square Enix

  • Genre:JRPG
  • Platform:PS2
  • Also Available On:Android, iOS, 3DS (Japan Only)


  • Full Story Completion
  • Roughly 75 hours

Dragon Quest 8 is really a classic of a very core RPG.  It has a simple turn based battle system, but a good story, entertaining characters, and decent voice acting, all in a bright and large overworld.  If someone was to point at a great example of what the core mechanics of any JRPG should start at, it would be this one.  While it hasn’t necessarily aged that gracefully in the last 10 years, it’s still a fine example of the type of JRPG that was coming out at the tail end of the PS2 era, and any fans of the genre would benefit from playing this one.

What I Liked

The gameplay overall is simple, but pretty fun.  The battle system is a standard turn-based affair.  There’s some entertaining moves, particularly Jessica who has an entire over the top sex appeal category of moves to distract enemies.  In addition, the characters can essentially save up turns to pump themselves up and do enhanced damage in subsequent moves.

Visually the game has also held up really well.  It’s similar to Wind Waker in the sense that the cel-shaded style really helped simplify the visuals of the original, but have ended up holding up a lot better than “realistic” attempts of that era.

What I Didn’t Like

Unfortunately also a stand-in of older JRPGs, there were some grindy segments of the game, particularly in the late game.  As I got to the last boss, I basically had to grind to a point where I had near-max gear, as well as three characters to revive.  Once I got the three revive, the final boss was fairly trivial, but until that point I couldn’t keep up with healing to save my life.  To some extent I expect it within the genre to have to grind, but this game felt a bit overboard.

What I Was Indifferent To

The largest side-quest thing I found was the monster arena, where special monsters you defeat in the world can battle out against each other.  There’s some good prizes to be had, but I honestly couldn’t be bothered to run around finding the strongest monsters and run back to fight them out.

There is also an alchemy system for gear and item production.  I used it a handful of times for gear, but without going to gamefaqs to come up with specific recipes it’s a lot of finding books in the world that give vague descriptions of recipes that may or may not be of any use.  Helpful for end-game gear, but really only if you know specifically what you’re trying to make.