My tumultuous love affair with Assassin’s Creed

Loving a video game franchise can be hard.

As time goes by and games evolve, there’s bound to be one or two changes you don’t like. Perhaps the game mechanics changed or a plot twisted in a way that didn’t suit your fancy or maybe it’s gone from a linear, story driven narrative game to an open world filled with random chaos.

What do you do when that happens?

Do you implement your ride or die policy? Do you scream into the ethos of the internet that the franchise has been destroyed? Or do you just sit back, think fondly of the times you’ve had with the games you’ve loved and tell yourself that the franchise just isn’t for you anymore?

This was the conundrum I recently faced with one of my favourite franchises — Assassin’s Creed.

From the minute Desmond got strapped into the animus and Altair ibn-La’Ahad came to life I was hooked. It was a perfect mix of historical/religious drama and science fiction.

That increased 10 fold when they introduced the great Ezio Auditore da Firenze.

With the evolution of both Desmond and Ezio over the next three games I was an insatiable, plot consuming beast. Sure the gameplay advanced over those years but I grabbed on and ran alongside it like two people running through a field of tulips. Absolutely I’ll invest in that brothel to build my town up, of course I’ll send out fellow assassins to do my bidding across the lands.

But with the end of that story became the start of real change and, with it, a bit of a bumpy road.

There were games I liked, games I didn’t like and games I got bored of halfway through. Staples of the franchise slowly started to disappear for new mechanics and slowly the games became less about the world of the assassins and more about just historical role playing adventure.

And with every new game I’d ask myself … is this series really for me anymore?

Sometimes the answer was yes — Black Flag is one of my favourite games in the franchise and I loved the banter and life of Syndicate.

Then came Origins. With its heavy focus on new fighting mechanics, the world of assassin vs Templars all but vanished. On the other side, they created a new present day character, Layla Hassan, that, I thought, had great potential to circle back to its roots.

The whole thing made me really start to wonder if I’d had enough. If the game had evolved into something so different that it was time to walk away.

So, it was with great trepidation that I contemplated the release of Odyssey. I saw the reviews and heard all good things and was intrigued when I heard Layla would return.

But I had to ask myself — am I just being a glutton for punishment? Will I be disappointed again? Or will I just walk away?

For months I debated this. MONTHS! It got deep, like stupid deep.

Thought about the pros and cons of buying the game. Contemplated my entire history of video game playing. Tried to figure out just what rewards I physically get from this franchise – like on a molecular level — neurons and synapses and such.

And I came to the conclusion, NO! I was done. This would be where my journey ends with the franchise I’d loved for so long. I wouldn’t be angry that it had moved on, I’d just accept it and reflect lovingly on the years of enjoyment the games gave me and I would let it go.

But then Xbox had a sale …

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