Assassin’s Creed, an iconic video game franchise developed by Ubisoft, has captured the hearts and minds of gamers worldwide since its initial release in 2007. With a captivating mix of historical accuracy, intriguing storytelling, and exhilarating gameplay, Assassin’s Creed has become a staple in the gaming industry, setting new standards for open-world action-adventure titles. In this article, we delve into the evolution and impact of Assassin’s Creed, exploring its rich history, memorable characters, and the continuous drive for innovation that has kept the franchise thriving.
The Birth of the Creed
The concept of Assassin’s Creed originated from the brilliant mind of Patrice Désilets, who served as the creative director for the first two main entries in the series. Inspired by historical conspiracy theories and the desire to create a game with both a compelling narrative and engaging gameplay, Désilets envisioned a world where players could experience different historical periods as an assassin fighting for justice.
Assassin’s Creed: Altaïr’s Chronicles, a prequel to the original game, was released for handheld platforms before the main series took off. However, it was the release of Assassin’s Creed in November 2007 that marked the franchise’s true beginning and the introduction of the fictional war between Assassins and Templars.
The Time-Hopping Gameplay
The hallmark of Assassin’s Creed’s gameplay lies in its seamless transition between two interconnected worlds: the modern-day setting and various historical periods. Using a device called the Animus, players assume the role of a modern-day protagonist, who, through their ancestral memories, relives the experiences of an Assassin from the past.
Throughout the series, players have traveled to numerous historical settings, including the Third Crusade-era Holy Land, Renaissance Italy, the American Revolution, Victorian London, and even ancient Egypt and Greece. Each era is richly detailed, boasting stunning environments that breathe life into history while providing players with a sense of awe and wonder.
Characters and Storytelling
The protagonists in Assassin’s Creed are as diverse as the historical periods they inhabit. The series has featured several memorable characters, each bringing a unique personality and motivation to the Assassin Brotherhood. From Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, the stoic and enigmatic assassin of the first game, to Ezio Auditore da Firenze, whose journey of vengeance and growth spanned three games, each character has left a lasting impact on players.
The story revolves around the eternal conflict between the Assassins and Templars, with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance. Themes of free will, morality, and the consequences of one’s actions permeate the narrative, giving players food for thought long after they put down the controller.
The Modern-Day Mystery
In addition to exploring historical settings, Assassin’s Creed weaves a complex and intriguing modern-day storyline that ties everything together. Players assume the role of Desmond Miles in the early games, a seemingly ordinary bartender who is revealed to be a descendant of numerous powerful Assassins.
As the series progresses, the modern-day narrative takes unexpected twists and turns, unveiling a world filled with ancient technology, shadowy organizations, and global conspiracies. It was this aspect of the franchise that set Assassin’s Creed apart from other games, creating a unique and immersive experience that blurred the lines between past and present.
Expanding the Franchise
Following the success of the first game, Ubisoft knew it had struck gold with the Assassin’s Creed formula. The franchise quickly expanded, with new mainline entries and spin-offs releasing on various platforms. Assassin’s Creed II, released in 2009, is often regarded as one of the high points in the series, introducing the charismatic Ezio and refining the gameplay mechanics of the original.
Subsequent entries, such as Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, continued Ezio’s journey while introducing new gameplay elements and expanding the scope of the narrative. The franchise’s popularity surged further with the release of Assassin’s Creed III, set during the American Revolution, and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, taking players on a swashbuckling adventure as a pirate assassin in the Caribbean.
Innovation and Iteration
With each new installment, Ubisoft sought to push the boundaries of what Assassin’s Creed could achieve. The introduction of naval combat in Black Flag was a significant breakthrough, breathing new life into the series and garnering critical acclaim. This innovation was later expanded in Assassin’s Creed Rogue and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the latter introducing a role-playing element and player-choice system that allowed gamers to shape the story according to their decisions.
The franchise’s success and scope led to the emergence of adaptations outside of video games, including novels, comics, an animated short film, and a live-action movie starring Michael Fassbender in 2016. While the movie received mixed reviews, it demonstrated the broad appeal of the franchise beyond gaming circles.
The Annualization and Criticism
As with any long-running franchise, Assassin’s Creed faced some criticism due to its annualized release schedule. The series saw yearly installments from 2009 to 2015, leading to concerns that the quality of the games might suffer due to rushed development cycles. This approach eventually led to fatigue among both players and developers.
Ubisoft acknowledged this feedback and took a step back, giving the series more time to breathe and allowing for more significant innovation. This hiatus resulted in Assassin’s Creed Origins in 2017, which marked a reboot of sorts, taking players to ancient Egypt and embracing RPG mechanics. It was met with widespread acclaim, signaling a reinvigoration of the franchise.
Assassin’s Creed stands as a testament to the power of video games to transport players to diverse worlds, ignite their imagination, and immerse them in historical epochs. With its engaging storytelling, memorable characters, and continuous drive for innovation, the franchise has become a cornerstone of modern gaming.
From the birth of the Creed in the Holy Land to the maritime adventures in the Caribbean and the ancient mysteries of Egypt and Greece, Assassin’s Creed has consistently delivered a remarkable gaming experience. As the franchise continues to evolve and adapt, fans eagerly anticipate the next chapter, ready to embark on another unforgettable journey through history as a masterful Assassin.