Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was released in November 2011 and is the very fitting end to Ezio Auditore Da Firenze’s story. Along the same lines as Brotherhood, Revelations serves as the 4th Assassin’s Creed, while not being named Assassin’s Creed 4.
Revelations keeps the story moving forward, picking up right where Brotherhood left off. Desmond has been plugged back into the animus and finds himself in the Animus black room, an island in a void of greyish blue. He’s joined by Subject 16, the mysterious figure that has been leaving glyphs all over Italy for Desmond to find. His name is Clay Kaczmarek and he shares the same genetic ties as Desmond. He reminds Desmond of the events from the last game and explains that in order to wake up in the real world, Desmond must continue Ezio’s memories and reach a Synch Nexus with Altair, Ezio, and himself.
Once More Unto the Breach
Back in the past, we are greeted by an aged Ezio on a voyage to Masyaf to find the hidden assassin’s library, home to all manner of assassin secrets and the pride and joy of Altair. The Synch nexus is in sight.
Then because there needs to be a plotline, the Templars are already at Masyaf looking for the same thing. Ezio is captured and disarmed resetting him back to level one. He promptly escapes and discovers the door to the library needs several strange keys. Luckily one of the keys is on the body of Leandros, the captain of the Templars at Masyaf, along with the book leading to the rest of the keys. Very convenient!
We track Leandros down, kill him, take the key and the book, and work our way to Constantinople currently under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Gone are the warm and vibrant colours of Italy, washed-out colours from the Middle East return from the first Assassin’s Creed. Ezio himself has abandoned his bright white and red robes for aged greying ones.
New Friends, New Love
On our way into Constantinople, we meet Suleiman I, prince to the Ottoman Empire, local guild leader Yusuf and Sofia, the love interest of the game. This opens up the two mission paths, one where we protect Suleiman in his rise to being Emperor for political favours, and another where we work with Sofia to translate the book we got from Leandros to find the remaining keys.
Finding the keys involves doing small dungeons, like the assassin temples and Lairs of Romulus, or assassinating Templars who have the keys in their possession.
Protecting the Prince involves dressing as a minstrel and causing distractions to allow assassins to kill the men attempting to kill the prince. The songs Ezio sing are all references to the past games which is a lovely touch.
Each key we find get’s us closer to our end goal of opening the library. Every key also gives us a slice of Altair’s life before and after the events of the first game. It demonstrates his close relationship with Al Mualim before he was discovered as a traitor which lends to his unwillingness to believe he was a traitor. We learn that after the events of the first game, he struggles for recognition and respect with a fellow high ranking assassin, Abbas, who is driven paranoid by the Apple of Eden.
From the previous two games, we understand Altair was a master assassin which led the assassins to greater heights. Through the keys, we learn that he was something of a recluse, sowing the seeds of progress and then spending unreasonable amounts of time studying the Apple while using its knowledge to create new and useful tools for the assassins.
As an old man Altair returns to Masyaf. Abbas has been maintaining a stranglehold on the assassins there, clinging desperately to tradition. Altair confronts him. The assassins who heard tales of his mastery form a protective circle around him, aiding his ascent to Masyaf proper. Once there he is confronted by Abbas, who stands above him. Abbas, filled with paranoia and doubt, challenges Altair.
Abbas shoots Altair with a hidden gun, killing him where he stands and taking his rightful place as Mentor to Masyaf and the assassins. The last Key we find shows a short scene of Altair locking himself in the library and dying of old age, a short speech accompanying his death. A lovely farewell to the assassin that started the series.
Getting Closer to Synching
Ezio experiences Altair’s life through the keys, much like Desmond lived the lives of Ezio and Altair. After discovering Sofia’s ransacked shop and several dad assassins, Ezio finds himself confronting Suleiman’s uncle who has taken Sofia hostage for the Masyaf keys. After working out a way to spare him, the emperor appears with a battalion and Suleiman in tow. Taking matters into his own hands, he kills his brother for his treachery. This results in the door opening to the Masyaf library so Sofia and Ezio are on their way to Masyaf.
Desmond then immediately gets kicked back out to the black room. It’s crashing down around him, Clay knows this is the end, Desmond is going to achieve a Synch Nexus and leave the animus. But Clay has no body to return to, it’s long since been disposed of. Clay is curled up on the floor in the foetal position, trying to come to terms with dying, rationalising that it means he’ll finally be free of the Animus, but lamenting the loss of his life. Desmond falters, he doesn’t want to leave Clay behind. In a final act of kindness, Clay thrusts Desmond into the portal to relive the final moments of Ezio’s life that will lead to a Synch Nexus.
Ezio goes to the library, Altair’s skeleton sits alone in a circle of chairs, beyond him is an altar where Altair’s Apple of Eden resides. Ezio decides to leave it there along with his hidden blades and other weapons, signifying his decision to retire as an assassin. The Apple activates as he addresses Desmond, talking of all the questions left unanswered and leaving the rest to him, slowly leaving the frame to live out the rest of his life with his newfound love Sofia.
Desmond reaches the Synch Nexus, a glowing apparition appears calling himself Jupiter and provides a warning that a solar flare is coming to wipe out humanity. He leaves with the hope that Desmond will find a way to stop the solar flare from bringing the same fate Jupiter’s people met. Desmond wakes up, and the game ends.
Functionally, Revelations plays the same as Brotherhood but with two notable changes. Replacing the climbing glove with the Hookblade. This grants higher jumps when climbing and more of a grace period when jumping between buildings. It also gives you access to many ziplines dotted around the map. A new mechanic is bomb crafting. Ezio can make bombs for distracting, incapacitating and killing enemies. All of which use resources that can be looted from around the world.
The recruiting system is back and the same. However, there are now tower defence sections where Ezio stands atop a building and commands assassins to defend an assassin bureau. Nothing ground-breaking and I found myself avoiding them more than anything.
The last addition is very minor, but there are sections of the game where Ezio holds onto a rope trailing from the back of a carriage and slowly climbs his way up onto the carriage.
The Point of Revelations
The point of Revelations is entirely optional, scattered around the map are little data fragments. In total there are a lot. You only need 30 to get the entire point. Once you’ve gathered enough, head to the black room and walk to the arches up on the hill across from the animus, walk through them from left to right. Inside them are first-person platforming puzzles where you have to spawn one of two 3D shapes to move through the level. As you move through the levels Desmond tells his story of leaving his father to live his own life. It’s the most fun I had in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.
I have an issue with Desmond’s backstory. Desmond spent most of his life training to be an assassin and learns most if not all the skills needed. So why does he have to use Ezio’s early life to learn how to be an assassin? He already knew it all! It’s not like the Animus beefed him up, he just learnt the movements and skills.
Except for the fact, he already had them. They invalidated the entire point of Assassin’s Creed 2. It doesn’t ruin the games, it just sticks out to me as a bit of a plot contrivance.
Where Brotherhood had enough going for it to warrant being a whole game instead of an add-on, Revelations would have been better suited as a short DLC. There are not enough new additions to warrant the full retail release it got. What it adds to the story could have been in a DLC expansion. All in all, it serves as a loving farewell to Altair and Ezio. I’m placing it at 8th in the series, it’s by no means a bad game, there are just other entries better than it.
As a parting word, I’ll say my own farewell to Altair and Ezio, I had a genuinely good time with them and they kickstarted my binge of the Assassin’s Creed series.