Assassin’s Creed Mirage promises to return the series to its roots and deliver a more condensed experience. With Mirage going gold and releasing earlier than expected on October 5th, I want to look back at the series. Particularly to the game that enacted the genre change, but also last felt like a true addition to the franchise.
Origins Resets Assassin’s Creed
Assassin’s Creed Origins was released back in 2017, it was a time in which the series was in flux. The fan base felt disillusioned and was highly critical of Assassin’s Creed Unity and Syndicate. The entries either felt broken or didn’t seem to understand narratively what Assassin’s Creed was. The announcement of Origins was exciting and promised a new direction for the franchise. Set in a time rife with possibilities while telling how the Creed came to be. Origins delivered the deeply personal tale of Bayek and how his journey led to the Assassin’s ideals. It lets players explore the most detailed open-world Ubisoft ever created in Egypt. Most importantly, it meaningfully enriched the world of Assassin’s Creed and was lovingly crafted.
Bayek of Siwa
Assassin’s Creed was defined by its protagonist, something recent entries have lacked. To this day, a character like Ezio or Altair always comes to mind when Assassin’s Creed is discussed. This is because the series focused on telling intimate stories about hardship, love, responsibility, defiance, and loss. Assassin’s Creed Origins keeps true in this with Bayek, a father and former Medjay. It’s a game about his journey and interpersonal struggles with his family and ties to Egypt. Through him, players get to see where tenants of the Creed originated from and how traditions evolved from Bayek’s journey.
Building Bayek as a Character
Incredible work went into ensuring every main and sidequest is there to enhance Bayek’s character arc. Bayek is deeply human, loving when it comes to children and those in need but flawed with his rage. Depending on the situation he can be stern or downright vengeful to those in his path and isn’t always in the right. On the flip side, he is joyful and full of laughter when allowed to relax or have moments of intimacy. These aspects of Bayek are shown through nuances in the performance (by the talented Abubakar Salim) or little facial expressions.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is special because it devotes time to building Bayek as a character. This game still featured fully animated cutscenes which carried into the side content. Large amounts of Bayek’s story can be missed if side quests are skipped. These aren’t just low-effort fillers either, but entire storylines that allow Bayek to shine. They can be simple like a heartfelt conversation with a suicidal woman or just playing hide and seek with kids. Then as complex as ensuring the defense of towns or reuniting with allies from his previous life. The main quest gives the major beats for Bayek where the more prominent sides of him come to light. But to truly understand him as a character the sidequests are a must-play.
In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Odyssey, the Creed was never meaningfully used, something Mirage looks to change. Origins show the inception of the Creed, its tenants, and certain traditions which would evolve with time. Bayek’s path alongside his wife Aya slowly necessitated the creation of the Creed. Their goals ripped them apart mentally and physically, it’s a sacrificial journey they walked. Throughout the events of the game, they inspire others while burdening themselves after each kill. They start something bigger than themselves, ideals that would carry on through time.
Bayek chose to remain in the shadows of history as a true hidden one, working in the background. While Aya became Amunet, the Assassin we can see in Assassin’s Creed 2 under Ezio’s home. Each of them had their role in founding the Assassin Brotherhood, and we can see their legacy ripple through subsequent games. Origins story was created as a love letter for fans and offers much insight into the Creed.
A Carefully Crafted Egypt
Assassin’s Creed is no stranger to astonishing renditions of historical settings and Origins set a new pedigree. Set in Ptolemaic Egypt, it was a time of change with the land falling to Rome and old ways dying. Cites such as Alexandria or Memphis are filled with bustling streets, landmarks, and buildings to climb. While deserts offer vast stretches of nothing but sand or rock and give an immense sense of scale to the world. Even to Egyptians pyramids and tombs remained a mystery, giving the perfect set up for exploration. Origin’s open world recognized this and ensured that the map would be the most impressive to date.
Every crevasse of the world has been poured over to give the smallest location a sense of purpose and life. Walking through the cities or villages will allow you to just observe lie culture. From a performance in the street, markets selling wares, or a group of workers building, it all was thoughtfully crafted. Words can’t describe the experience Origin’s world gives, it rivals Red Dead Redemptions 2 or Horizon Forbidden West worlds. If playing Origins isn’t possible then check out this video by Youtuber ACG which deep-dive into the world.
Respecting the Assassin’s Creed Roots While Moving Forward
Assassin’s Creed Mirage looms on the horizon with a refocus for the franchise leaving the fan base hopeful. Yet the question of what the future of this series looks like remains up in the air. Mirage is a game of circumstances in scope and concept, it’s tailored for older fans. After Mirage, we know very little about the next games besides their setting. Hopefully, they learn from Origins by giving a fresh take while staying true to the franchise’s roots.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Odyssey both have merit but calling them Assassin’s Creed is a stretch. Those games bend previously establish lore and merely include Assassin elements as fan service, not caring if it fits. They are games doing too much and end up feeling disjointed or simply not part of the franchise. Assassin’s Creed Origins proved that you could go bigger and change with the right amount of focus and care. That’s why remembering Origins is important for the next stage of Assassin’s Creed that is about to begin.