Few game series have reached the success and renown as the Assassin’s Creed series, selling more than 93 million copies of its nine main titles worldwide.
It’s easy to see why the series has been so successful: painstakingly recreating historical settings and effortlessly blending open-world free running with counter-based combat and stealth. I personally fell in love with the series for it’s varied game play and historical settings, and it functioned as sort of a gateway for me to start playing more stealth-focused games like Dishonored.
There is a big problem with the series, however, and that is that the games seem to have a certain bias. Any Christian who has played an Assassin’s Creed game has probably winced at some point due to the often subtle but sometimes very blatant slant against Christians.
Each Assassin’s Creed games have featured a similar message about being developed by a team of “various religious faiths and beliefs,” (shown below) as if to say that there is no religious bias in the games.
However, the series is hardly unbiased in it’s portrayal of Christians.
Let’s look at some examples.
The very first Assassin’s Creed game focused on the fight of the secret brotherhood of assassins against the evil Templar Crusaders of the 3rd Crusade.
These cross-bearing punching bags become the enemy throughout the entire series, representing everything “evil” in the world such as *gasp* law, religion, and capitalism. Still, Crusaders are easy to paint as villains, and most Christians would not claim them or condone their actions (Crusader’s couldn’t even read the bible anyways, unless they knew Latin and actually were literate). So, yea, making Crusaders villains does not automatically make a series anti-Christian.
Don’t worry, though, there’s more.
One of the main villains and assassination targets of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is Pope Alexander VI, the head of Christendom of that time. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations takes place in Istanbul and paints the few surviving Byzantines as the villains (Quick history lesson: Byzantines were the Christian people who lived in the city before the Muslim Ottomans came and killed them all and took over), once again painting Muslim peoples as the heroes against Christians.
The Assassins are a secret group that exists to push against established powers and create anarchy. Almost every Assassin’s Creed game takes place in a time and location where Christianity is the established norm, so Christians are the villains and those who oppose them are heroes.
In Brotherhood, the actual titular Creed of Assassin’s Creed is repeated over and over whenever you recruit a new Assassin.
Part of this Creed states: “Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.” This is an obviously anti-Christian humanistic statement. On a side note, it is ironic that the Assassin’s say that everything is permitted, but their whole job is killing people who do things that the Assassin’s deem wrong, like upholding law and order.
If that was not enough, the background lore of the series is that ancient aliens left behind relics that mankind found after they had “evolved.” These relics are worshiped and called “Pieces of Eden,” and feature objects such as Apples of Eden, the Shroud of Eden (Jesus’ shroud), and one is housed in the literal Ark of the Covenant. Yea, a little blasphemous.
The evil Templars are shown using Christianity to lie about the Pieces of Eden and oppress people.
It should be clear to you now why people like me have gotten the impression that the Assassin’s Creed series does not like Christians, so some of you may ask the question, “Why would a Christian play these games?”
Well, they’re really fun.
Seriously, the games are amazing (especially AC II!), as I have explained already, but I’m not here to write a review. I’m here to give a Christian perspective.
If I were a parent, I would not let my kids play these games. They have philosophies that are just too damaging. Any parents reading this may disagree with me, and that is okay, because this is just my opinion.
As an adult, however, I feel it is up to the individual. Playing Assassin’s Creed did not turn me into an atheist, and the story will be the same for anyone who is strong in their faith. Our world is full of anti-Christian messages, and it is our job as Christians to wade into that world and put forth the voice of truth, not just hide in the corner.
Jesus said in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (ESV)
It is impossible to avoid insults to the Christian faith. Persecution is inevitable, and if the worst persecution you ever endure is the occasional insult or blasphemy from a video game, you are a very blessed Christian.
The real question is, can a Christian enjoy Assassin’s Creed games? Or can we ignore the evil messages and focus on the great game play and historical settings?
That’s up to you to decide.
If you pick up Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, the newest of the series, and as soon as you hear a rant from an “evil” Templar saying how he wants to thwart science because science and Christianity can’t go together (tell that to Isaac Newton, dude) and it puts you off to the point where you are no longer having fun, I completely understand it if you don’t want to play anymore.
I, personally, have been able to focus on the enjoyment of the games. Beyond that, I believe that I have gained a better understanding of how the world views Christians. It is helpful to understand these things, so that us Christians can prove the world wrong and spread the message of truth.
That is the true benefit from playing Assassin’s Creed, if that is what you decide to take from the experience.
Thank you for reading, and until next time, remember: video games are art, and art is what you make of it.