really only two questions you need to ask yourself before dropping $10 on The
Lost Archive, the first single-player DLC for Assassin’s Creed Revelations:
First, did you enjoy the optional, Portal-esque “memory” levels that you played
through as Desmond? Second, are you deeply invested in the Assassin’s Creed
fiction, and in particular the events surrounding its 2012 storyline?
If the answer
to either of those questions is “no,” Lost Archive may not be for you. Clocking
in at around two hours (or more, depending on how often you fail or how
slavishly you hunt down its Achievements/Trophies), it’s a collection of seven
first-person puzzle levels, which you’ll navigate by solving switch puzzles and
creating platforms and ramps out of thin air. The design is prettier and more
involving, and the tone is more surreal, but – aside from the introduction of a
new kind of platform that lets you jump really high – this is just more of the
same from one of Revelations’ least-compelling aspects.
The upshot is
that, instead of more boring Desmond trivia that fans had already learned from
previous games, the focus this time is on the mysterious Subject 16, an
Assassin named Clay Kaczmarek. Beginning with his “funeral,” the DLC pushes him
through echoes of his life, with laser- and jumping-puzzle-filled levels that
represent his adolescence, his induction into the Assassin order, his
infiltration of the Templar megacorporation Abstergo and his ultimate fate inside
the Animus. It also drops a bombshell of a revelation about Desmond’s closest,
most ill-fated ally, Lucy Stillman. This alone makes it worth a playthrough,
although it’s a little shocking that such a huge reveal would be saved for a
short piece of DLC.
Taken on its
own, Lost Archive is an elegant, well-designed expansion that offers a set of
cool puzzle levels and interesting visual elements, although its short run time
makes it a hard sell for the price. Again, though, if you enjoyed the Desmond
puzzle levels, you’ll enjoy these – and in fact, these are actually better,
with more interesting collectibles and a more satisfying conclusion (once you “break
the loop” by finding all the collectibles, anyway). It also comes with three "new" costumes – Altair's original robes, the Armor of Brutus and a set of Turkish Assassin armor – which you can use in the regular campaign, if that's an incentive for you.
On the other
hand, it’s a disappointing follow-up for a series that’s given us DLC like The
Da Vinci Disappearance and The Battle of Forli – inexpensive adventures that
expanded the story and gave us more of the climbing and stabbing we love. As
interesting as it is to delve into Subject 16’s past, was anyone really asking
for more Portal-style levels?