The Moral of the Story
The very name, Assassin’s Creed, speaks to the premise of the story. The world of Assassin’s Creed is one of stealth and death. Each milestone in the series storyline is defined by the death of a target. The core of the gameplay is centered around combat, fighting guards, air assassinations, poison darts, and so on. With all of this at the forefront of my mind, I was very surprised when reflecting on the game’s storyline to find myself learning a different lesson. I was writing about the ideologies of the Assassins and Templars when I read a certain quote. A quote which inspired me to write this article focusing on an surprising moral. The moral of the Assassin’s Creed story is not about assassination, violence, or climbing rooftops…instead it is about being wise.
The Story and the Moral
A unique interpretation of the Assassin’s motto, “Nothing is true, everything is permitted,” can be found in the very first Assassin’s Creed game. Altair, the game’s protagonist, is asked a series of questions by his mentor. Altair’s final response is, “To recognize nothing is true and everything is permitted. That laws arise not from divinity, but reason. I understand now that our creed does not command us to be free…it commands us to be wise.”
You can watch this scene in its entirety below:
This is a side of the Assassins I missed during my initial playthrough of the Assassin’s Creed games, perhaps it was due to my young age at the time. When I look back now, I can see bits of wisdom being shared inconspicuously throughout the series. I was amazed to notice the successful completion of a violent act, an assassination, was when the most wisdom was shared. This is because when an important target dies in the game a short cutscene shares the final words between the victim and the assassin. Below are some quotations of scenes which give credence to the moral of the story:
You put too much faith in the hearts of men, Altaïr. The Templars know the truth. Humans are weak, base, and petty. [Altaïr: No. Our Creed is evidence to the contrary.] Ah… perhaps I am not wise enough to understand, but I suspect the opposite. That I am too wise to believe such rubbish.” –Haras, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
“It’s all a matter of perspective. There is no single path through life that’s right and fair and does no harm. Do you truly think the Crown has no cause? No right to feel betrayed? You should know better than this, dedicated as you are to fighting Templars – who themselves see their work as just. Think on that the next time you insist your work alone befits the greater good. Your enemy would beg to differ – and would not be without cause.” –Benjamin Church, Assassin’s Creed III
“At last it ends… Yet I can only think of beginnings… A better tomorrow, forged with the blood of visionaries. [Jacob: All I see is the blood of a lunatic.] Do you truly believe murdering an old man will stop humanity’s Great Architect? Crawford Starrick has a glorious design for mankind! [Jacob: Designs are meant to be broken.] You are a child… A child who believes he can solve all the world’s woes with a flick of a blade… Have you ever pondered the consequences of your actions, Jacob Frye? Or did your father teach you nothing?” –John Elliotson, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
(These are just a few samples of a larger list which can be found here)
Life and the Moral
Each of the above samples pressures the protagonist and the player to consider their actions and to reflect upon the Assassin’s convictions and goals. Personally, this reinforces the motto of the Assassins because it encourages me to not simply accept the assassin’s version of the story as fact but to find the truth for myself. I offer my variation to the Assassin’s motto, “Not everything is true, anything is possible.” This is my reminder to not follow blindly or believe statements without any evidence. Instead I should gather the facts, consider each point of view, and draw my own conclusion. I will be the first to admit this is easier said than done, but it is something I hope to work towards. I no longer believe wisdom is about years of experience or wealth of knowledge. Assassin’s Creed has taught me being wise is about searching for the truth. To not accept facts pushed upon me by others and to discover the truth for myself.
[If you enjoyed this post check out its companion article, Assassin’s Creed Taught Me Two Things About Human Nature, on Creators.Co] – Anidaan
*Image sources: deviantart.com & quotesgram.com