One Story Ends, Another Begins
So here we are, the end of an era. After following Ezio’s journey over the course of three games, Assassin’s Creed finishes Ezio’s story with a satisfying conclusion for this highly popular protagonist while leaving lots of scope for the sequels to push into new, unexplored territory.
Following the ending of Brotherhood, Desmond Miles is in a comatose state after being forced to kill Lucy Stillman through the control of the First Civilization member, Juno. While Shaun Hastings stays behind in Rome to attend Lucy’s funeral, Rebecca Crane takes Desmond to New York where she meets his father, William Miles. In an effort to save Desmond’s life, they decide to put him back in the Animus, though this time in the machine’s safe mode known as the “Black Room.”
Awakening on Animus Island (the original Animus testing program) Desmond meets the consciousness of Clay Kaczmarek, a man better known as Subject 16 and the one who occupied Animus 1.0 before him. Clay explains that Desmond’s mind is broken and the only way to repair it is through reliving his ancestors’ memories until they’re completely exhausted. At that point the Animus should separate Desmond from Ezio and Altaïr, along with awakening Desmond from his coma in the present-day timeline.
With the stage set, Desmond heads back in the Animus and takes on the role of Ezio Auditore once more. The journey begins 4 years after the death of Cesare Borgia, as Ezio travels to the former Assassins’ fortress in Masyaf to discover secrets Altaïr had previously discovered. Upon arriving, he finds Masyaf has been taken over by the Templars.
Ezio manages to escape though and discovers the entrance to Altaïr’s library. As it turns out, five disc-like “keys” are required to unlock the door and they’ve been hidden in the city by Niccolò Polo. He also learns that the Templars have discovered one of them underneath the Ottoman Sultan’s palace while the rest lie hidden in Constantinople, the capital city of the Ottoman Empire.
Ezio travels there and meets with Yusuf Tazim, leader of the Turkish Assassin Order. While out searching, Ezio befriends a woman called Sofia Sartor, a young Italian traveler and book collector whom he eventually falls in love with. With Sofia’s help, Ezio discovers the locations of the remaining keys while keeping his feelings and position a secret from her.
Meanwhile, Constantinople falls into chaos thanks to rising conflicts between Prince Ahmet and his brother Selim, who are feuding over who will inherit the Sultanate. Caught in the middle of this, Suleiman reveals to Ezio that he is an Ottoman prince (Selim’s son) and suspects Templars are the root cause for this feud.
Ezio confirms as much too, when he learns a man named Manuel Palaiologos has Templar support and is raising an army to overthrow the Ottomans and re-establish the Byzantine Empire. Thankfully, Ezio kills Manuel before that can happen and recovers the final key. As all is revealed, it turns out Ahmet is the true mastermind of the Templar plot to open Altaïr’s library.
Ezio uses the keys in his possession to witness Altaïr’s life after the events depicted in the first game. After killing his mentor Al-Mualim, Altaïr took possession of the Apple of Eden and became leader of the Assassins. One of them though, a man named Abbas, rejected his leadership. When Altaïr and his wife Maria left to help fight the Mongol invasion, Abbas usurped his title and seized control of the Assassins for himself.
One of his commands came from executing Altaïr’s youngest son, Sef. Upon learning this, Altaïr set out to gain revenge but another Assassin stabbed Maria in the back. With enemies all around him, Altaïr fled into exile with his elder son Darim for 20 years. Altaïr eventually returned though, killing Abbas and taking his rightful place as the leader. Years later, Altaïr encoded his memories onto those very same five keys that Ezio has found.
Returning to Constantinople, Ezio discovers that Ahmet has killed Yusuf and kidnapped Sofia, demanding he hand over the five keys in exchange for saving her life. Ezio agrees but immediately chases him down after securing Sofia’s safety. Ezio recovers the keys but before he can deal with Ahmet, Selim arrives and executes Ahmet himself, stating that their father “made his choice.”
Thanks to Suleiman’s endorsement, Selim spares Ezio but tells him to leave and never return. After completing this memory, the Animus begins to delete excess data it no longer needs, which includes Animus Island. With little choice and desperate to see Desmond complete his mission, Clay imprints his genetic memories onto Desmond before sacrificing himself to stop him being deleted by the Animus. After this present-day scene, we cut back to Ezio’s memories.
Ezio and Sofia return to Masyaf, where Ezio uses the keys to unlock Altaïr’s library. Unfortunately it’s completely empty save for Altaïr’s skeleton and a sixth key. As it turns out, the library was actually a vault to keep Altaïr’s Apple of Eden safe. Through the key, Ezio learns that Altaïr had sealed himself inside to make sure the Templars never managed to take it for themselves.
Ezio leaves the Apple where it is, stating that he’s seen enough for one life. He then turns around and talks directly to Desmond, not knowing exactly who he is but knowing enough to realize he’s watching. Ezio discards his weapons and decides to retire as an Assassin, telling Desmond that he realizes that he is a conduit for a message. He sincerely hopes Desmond will be able to find answers to the questions he and Altaïr had worked so hard to uncover and holds his arms out, as if to embrace Desmond. During this cut-scene, we see Desmond doing the exact same action.
Suddenly, Desmond is approached by Jupiter, another member of the First Civilization and the third of these Gods we’ve witnessed across the previous games. He explains that the First Civilization had built numerous underground vaults in a bid to try and study methods to save the planet from destruction. All of the data they’ve collected over the years have been transmitted to a central vault, where the data is tested. Of course given what we know about the First Civilization, this obviously didn’t work.
Jupiter shows Desmond the location of this central vault, which shows it located somewhere in New York, and tells him that he must save the planet from that prophesied impending second solar flare. This, as we know, ties back into the end of Assassin’s Creed II where we were first made aware of this incident.
With a new mission, Desmond awakens from his coma and finds Rebecca, Shaun and William standing with him in New York City. While the central vault activates underground, Desmond tells them he knows what they must do as his arm glows blue and the story is left open for the future sequels to come.
Revelations is certainly an aptly titled name for this game as we finally start to learn more about the past and interestingly tie our two protagonists together into a cohesive narrative. With both Ezio and Altaïr featured through this story, everything we’ve learned so far over the games is given some really good closure. Both Altaïr and Ezio are given the endings they deserve and the embrace at the end between Ezio and Desmond is almost a symbolic nod toward us as players who have followed this character over the course of several games and signifies the end of an era.
The general pacing of this story is solid and the conclusive finish helps to iron out some of the missing history for both Ezio and Altaïr, allowing for different characters to join the fight in the upcoming games to come. With Ezio throwing down his gear and presumably being with Sofia now, this paves way for more of Desmond’s ancestors to enter the fold and gives a good scope for the possibility of different time periods too.
With the fate of the world still hanging in the balance, there are some niggling issues with the plot (with Lucy killed by Desmond, why haven’t Shaun and the others mentioned anything?) while the formula of setting characters up to kill through revenge has been played out a lot over the course of this series so far that it’s starting to become a little formulaic.
Still, the door is left open for the future sequels and if there’s one thing this story does well, it’s give Ezio and Altaïr a decent send-off. For that alone, the story is certainly worth seeing through to its conclusion but the present-day timeline continues to lead us on this breadcrumb trail and is certainly in danger of needlessly convoluting its own lore in the process.