Language Issue
Assassin’s Creed, Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted: Highlights of the Assassin’s Creed Game
Assassin’s Creed, Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted: Highlights of the Assassin’s Creed Game
Issue 51

Abdul Qadir Aqil

The Assassin’s Creed game is inspired by ‘Alamut’, a historical novel by Slovene writer Vladimir Bartol. The game, which takes place in different eras, follows the conflict between the Arab assassins and the European Knights Templar, two underground societies formed during the Crusades in the Middle Ages. 

The Assassin’s Creed begins in 2012 with Desmond Miles, the game’s hero. A descendant of the assassins, Miles was born in 1987. Unlike other assassins, he chose to live a normal life in South Dakota, New York, but his life was turned upside down when an organisation called Abstergo Industries (the modern day representative of the Templars) learned about his lineage.

The organisation forces him to use the Animus, a device that can read the ancestral memories encoded in a person’s DNA. The device accesses the memories of one of his maternal ancestors during the third Crusade – Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad. The organisation wants to know the location of artefacts called ‘Pieces of Eden’ that Altaïr took after assassinating a number of the Knights Templar. These pieces are capable of producing an enormous energy that controls the destiny of humanity, and of uniting human beings under their control.

A fictional character, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad (1165-1257) is one of the main characters in the Assassin’s Creed series. He lived during the Crusaders’ third campaign, and was born to a Christian mother and a Muslim father. His mother died in childbirth and the Ayyubids executed his father in 1176 (when Altaïr was 11) as punishment for not obeying their orders. Altaïr called out to his father frantically moments before he was killed, and his father’s death caused him great sorrow.

Altaïr joined the Assassin group when he was 24. His first mission was to assassinate a Crusader leader who was killing innocent people in order to rule over Acre. Later, his assassinations were concentrated in three cities – Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus.

Altaïr became the leader of the group after the death of Sinan bin Rashid, his second father figure, in September 1191. Sinan bin Rashid  had strengthened the organisation by thwarting many of the Knights Templar’s plots.

The game focuses on the corruption that threatens religious institutions and leads to further corruption, destruction and death. Peace on earth can be achieved by killing one’s enemies, and men must be blindly obedient to their group and leader.

Later in the Assassin’s Creed, the game's hero moves from one era to another, from Renaissance Europe to the American War of Independence and then to the seven years of war during the mid-18th century, the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. The hero meets historical figures such as Machiavelli, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Charles Lee.

In the Assassin’s Creed, there is no real hero and no real world. The characters perform horrific deeds because everything is permitted and, in doing so, they go beyond good and evil and right and wrong.

Hollywood, which is always looking for profitable ideas, is looking for new topics such as the idea of changing, reshaping and even tampering with human memory. We have seen this in films such as Total Recall and Inception and video games like Assassin’s Creed.

We can describe the Animus device in the Assassin’s Creed as a development of Jung’s theory of the unconscious transcending the chronology of human life, and a return to the distant past and to the minds of our nameless ancestors and their ways of thinking, feeling and experiencing life, the world, the gods and other people.

Jung’s ideas about the role of the myth and the formation of the collective unconscious have not been confirmed by science. The mysterious aspect of the collective unconscious is extremely difficult to test scientifically.

It is also possible that the Animus device is a form of the theory of multiple universes or what are called ‘parallel universes’, which says that the universe in which we live, that is governed by certain laws, is not the only universe. Many universes may have different forms of life. We are but a small branch of a big tree. It is a theory that may be theoretically acceptable but, until now, there is no proven scientific evidence of it.