“Life is not a fairy tale and there are no happy endings!”–Achilles Davenport
For a series about secret orders, hidden blades, parkour and history, Assassin’s Creed manages to throw up a vast amount of emotional and touching moments. Even after brutally murdering a target, the moments after the killing tend to be introspective and informative, sometimes emotional. All this from a game where you spend the majority of the time leaping from very high buildings.
Some moments are truly touching, though, capable of being part of a great drama, be that film, TV or books. In Assassin’s Creed two, the hero, Ezio Auditore, watches helplessly and in horror as his father and two brothers are hanged for crimes they did not commit. In Assassin’s Creed 3, the young hero, this time Connor, has to watch as his village, and mother, are burned alive for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Assassin’s Creed Unity sees Arno watch as his great love, Elise, is killed by a blast of power from a piece of Eden during a battle with his sworn enemy.
The games also throw up moments away from the finality and innately emotional feeling created by death. In Revelations, the moment Ezio meets the skeletal body of the greatest ever Assassin, Altair, who had locked himself, and the secret he carried, away, was a moment of grief, pride and passion all rolled into a scene with very few words expressed.
“No books, no wisdom, just you, fratello mio. Requiescat in pace, Altaïr.”–Ezio Auditore
Connor too has a similar moment when, having helped America to its independence, he catches a glimpse of slaves being auctioned off to the highest bidder. It is an hour of realisation for the character and the player that the right decision can also have unforeseen consequences. Moments later, this idea is reinforced when Connor discovers that the village he spent the entirety of his life trying to save is forced from its land by the Americans he fought with for their independence.
All these moments add depth to games that could easily be seen as one-dimensional. This is truly demonstrated by a moment in Black Flag. It is a moment that encapsulates and neatly ties up the entire game that preceded it. It is also the most emotional in the series.
Towards the end of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, Edward is about to depart for London. In a touching farewell, not only to the Carribean but also his pirating ways, Anne Bonny sings a rendition of The Parting Glass. During the performance, Kenway imagines a table with all his fallen Pirate friends sat around, toasting him and enjoying themselves. The significance and emotion of this moment cannot be understated. Edward either watched or was forced to kill each of his friends and the imagining of them here truly brings to bear the casualties of his selfish actions throughout the game. As if this needed hammering home anymore, a ship pulls into port and Edward discovers the daughter he never knew about. She had been born shortly after Edward left and due to his uncontactable pirating ways, he was never informed about her existence. He even goes so far as to confirm to her that, had he known, he would have come home.
Edward: Well, I didn’t leave your… I didn’t leave without saying goodbye, that is. It was an arrangement, you see? Between your mother and me.
Jennifer: She said you left her. She said you always talked about sailing a boat and making money in the New World.
Edward: I did always want to sail a ship, that’s true. But not for a lark. To support us. To take care of her… and you.
Jennifer: Not me. Mother said you didn’t know about me. She said you wrote only once a year, and that she never knew where to find you.
Edward: That’s all true. And I’m sorry for that. If I had known earlier… I don’t know. I might have come home. I hope that I would have.
There are plenty more emotional moments in Assassin’s Creed–the entire of Embers, for example–but none actually encapsulates an entire game and character like that of Black Flag.
A quote from the series comes to mind that envelops the series completely.
Edward Kenway to Adéwalé:
“For years I’ve been rushing around, taking whatever I fancied, not giving a tinker’s curse for those I hurt. Yet here I am… with riches and reputation, feeling no wiser than when I left home. Yet when I turn around, and look at the course I’ve run… there’s not a man or woman that I love left standing beside me.”