Biblical Allusion: Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed is pretty much my 2nd all time favorite video game series for several reasons. One, it has an amazing story that completely absorbs you. Second, the game is (for the most part) historically accurate; specifically, each person assassinated was a real person, and the place and time of death for each person in the games match the time and place that their deaths actually happened in real life. Finally, the games are filled with allusions to the Bible. For example, Desmond Miles, the protagonist of the series (up until Assassin’s Creed IV), is a direct descendant of Adam and Eve, which gives him the special ability to access the memories of his ancestors through his genes. Also, there are several artifacts, called Pieces of Eden, that are scattered throughout the world of the games (50 that are known of). These Pieces of Eden give the user the ability to control certain aspects of their environment, much like the protagonist of the Hebrew narrative controls the world of the Hebrew people.

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For anyone who’s never heard of/played Assassin’s Creed, here’s a quick summary of the series (well, at least Assassin’s Creed through Assassin’s Creed: Revelations):

Assassin’s Creed

As you can see, after Desmond finishes going through the memories of his 12th century ancestor Altaïr, he suffers from something called the Bleeding Effect. This simply means that he retains some abilities of Altaïr, specifically Eagle Vision (this allows him to see things that aren’t visible to normal people). After activating Eagle Vision in Desmond’s room, the player sees the bizarre work of Subject 16 on the walls (this terrified me the first time I saw it).

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If you look close enough, you see 22:13 written on the wall a couple of times. Most people agree that this references the Book of Revelations, specifically 22:13 which states, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” This verse shows Yahweh’s absolute power over all of the things He created. The Templars, who plan to use the Piece of Eden to control all of humanity, are trying to achieve that kind of power. This foreshadows knowledge that is gained only in the following game of the series, Assassin’s Creed II.

In the Animus room, there’s a similar depiction, except this time it’s 13:16-18. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture of this. But in the Book of Revelations, 13:16-18 states, “Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of it’s name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.” This refers to the second beast mentioned in Revelations 13; it is said that the beast will rise out of the earth and cause destruction to humanity. This also can foreshadow knowledge gained later on in the series, which is a microchip that the Templars use, which is presumed to have the ability to control or track people. If the Templar’s mission is a success, they will inject every person on the planet with one of these microchips, allowing them to control everyone and essentially destroy humanity as we know it. Also, the barcode seen in the same room, when read, read the number 666, which further enforces this allusion.

If the player is familiar with this particular book of the Bible, then he/she will have a deeper insight of the events of the game, since the player is first told of the Templar’s evil plans in the second game. To a person who knows the Book of Revelations, the makers of the game are foreshadowing events and knowledge to come, and some of the creepy pictures on the wall make some sense.

Also, during Altaïr’s final fight with his mentor Al Mualim, Mulaim refers to the Piece of Eden as “the Word of God,” since the Pieces of Eden have the ultimate power. Mualim uses the Piece of Eden to replicated himself, control Altaïr, and control the rest of the Assassin Brotherhood. To a person who has read the Bible, this allusion makes perfect sense, since Yahweh time and time again shows His limitless power to the Hebrew nation, although it’s not to this extreme.

Assassin’s Creed II

In Assassin’s Creed II, the player has the chance to collect fragments from Subject 16 in the Animus, called glyphs. Once all of these glyphs are found, a secret video, called The Truth, is unlocked.

In this video, we see Adam and Eve trying to escape with a Piece of Eden. The Pieces of Eden allow the user to gain extensive knowledge of the world, just like the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from Genesis 2. Just like in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve take the Piece of Eden and gain knowledge that has extreme consequences; they gain the knowledge of the calamity that will soon befall them and the others from the First Civilization, which can also be seen as another version of the fall in Genesis 3. To a person who has never read the Bible or hasn’t heard the story of Adam and Eve, they might not fully understand the allusion or the reason why the two seem to be in distress. But to a person who has read Genesis, if the Piece of Eden is viewed as the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve’s distress makes perfect sense, since we know that they have gained knowledge that changes their lives forever.

Biblical allusions can be found everywhere, including video games. Sometimes these allusions can add a deeper understanding of the game, or they can foreshadow events in future games. Either way, they make the games much more interesting. I absolutely love the Assassin’s Creed series, and I can’t wait to finish Assassin’s Creed IV (hopefully this weekend 🙂 ).

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Pictures:

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