There are 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?