‘Requiescat in pace’
For the past month, I have been busy with a video game. It’s not by any means my first foray into this incredible series, but given the time period and historical context in which it’s set as well, it makes for a very exciting ride.
The title of this article comes from “Assassin’s Creed 2,” the line uttered by its protagonist, Ezio Auditore, every time he performs an assassination. “Rest in peace,” he says, each time.
Since those few years ago when I played that game to near completion, I’ve played a few more in the series. They’ve all ranged from very good to wonderful, but this is the first time I’ve been this excited about playing “Assassin’s Creed.”
The game is subtitled “Origins,” and it’s exactly what you think. It’s the genesis of the brotherhood of assassins, the “hidden ones” that work anonymously in the safety of darkness, intent on freeing society from the wretches of oppression and political corruption. It’s set in ancient Egypt at the tail end of the Ptolemaic Kingdom under the rule of King Ptolemy XIII.
This game was released in late October 2017, so I’ll admit that I’m coming to this party a little late. However, that doesn’t take anything away.
There is a main quest that the player must follow to completion (spoiler alert: it ends with the assassination of Julius Caesar), and truly, there’s almost no need to do anything else. You can set the gameplay to easy (if you just want the story with not too much fighting), normal (the default level), hard (if you’re up for more challenge) and nightmare (I’ve avoided this so far, but I just might give this a go).
However, I would advise taking on side quests in order to power up, grab some incredible outfits, weapons and other loot that can then be sold later or dismantled for crafting materials that go toward weapon upgrades (as the game gets more and more difficult, you’ll need to upgrade your weapons and armor).
Weapons include swords, spears, heavy blades, heavy blunts, scepters, different kinds of bows and arrows, and tools such as sleep darts and flesh-eating poison. My favorite tool, hands down, is the hidden blade, which can only be used for stealth assassinations.
Our hero in the story is Bayek of Siwa. His driving motivation is to find the killers of his young son, Khemu. Over the course of the game, he is helped by others he meets, but mostly by his wife, Aya, an assassin in the service of Queen Cleopatra.
One by one, Bayek kills each member of the Order of the Ancients until he and Aya find the head of this food chain. Their designation in this life is not lost on either of them: the violence and their inextricable link to it. Their son was the impetus for their new life, one they are unable to remove themselves from.
There is also downloadable content that adds more main missions to Origins. The Hidden Ones (Bayek is now no longer the only assassin serving in Egypt and, yes, there are more throats to slit) and The Curse of the Pharaohs, where Queen Nefertiti, King Ramesses the Great, King Akhenaten and King Tutankhamun all come to life because of an ancient artifact activated in the wrong hands.
If you’re not into sliding down pyramids, going inside the Great Sphinx or hacking Roman soldiers to oblivion, then take a discovery tour. Hundreds of photographs especially curated for the game have been compiled, and you are then taken on a tour that will educate you on life in ancient Egypt. So far, I’ve gotten a lesson on mummification and life in the temples, and I imagine it’ll take me a while to get through the whole thing.
All in all, there’s nothing more I can ask for from a video game. You get to travel to several locations you’ve maybe only heard of from Bible study, geography or history classes. You come face-to-face with the wonders of the world, and get to interact with them.
The gameplay is excellent, leaving little room for boredom. Even after game completion, it still offers a challenge for the player, should they want it.
I have a feeling I’ll be spending more time in ancient Egypt. There are still people to save, and more of the evil and corrupt to assassinate. I think my hidden blade will get to enjoy a few more rubies dripping from it. No time for it to sleep just yet.
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