Assassin’s Creed Unity has its fair share of flaws (and bugs), but that doesn’t take it away from being one of Ubisoft’s most ambitious games ever. The setting in Revolutionary France would be a challenge for any game company. Realistically, there are many ways to get it wrong in a setting not explored to this extent in video games. While the story of Unity could be considered lackluster with its cliche romance novel set, the world itself is something to admire. Additionally, the parkour elements of the series reached their peak with Unity. The game has a perfect balance between combat and exploration that later games just haven’t grasped properly.
The City Of Paris: A Revolutionary Tale
The main sections of the story are set in Paris during the height of the Revolution. At the start of the Paris section, you as Arno, are imprisoned in the Bastille just as it is being stormed by the civilians. Later on, you are thrust into the secret war between the Assassins and Templars at the onset of the Revolution. The story is not as gripping as one would expect in an Assassin’s Creed game and would make you bored quite fast. And that is where surprisingly the game excels. There is that feeling that Paris offers you more than you would expect. The unrest and uncertainty hovering over the people who are trying to make ends meet could be seen in many different ways. A huge number of people gathered and protested at the Notre Dame Cathedral and Palace of Versailles as the revolution progressed which was also portrayed properly in the game.
You see people holding speeches standing on wooden buckets with small crowds throughout the game. The poor suffering from sickness, the rich running away, the hopeful waving the French flag, severed heads on sticks being waved, and the guards failing to control the people all are part of what made the game so great. Prisoners being brought up to the guillotine in order to be beheaded and shown to the angry crowd are not a pleasant sight to witness in modern times, but Assassin’s Creed Unity did not hold that back. You can watch them get beheaded or save them and face the wrath of the guards, it’s all up to you. One of the main missions shows La Touche, a Templar, ordering a doctor to cut a beggar’s foot off for failing to meet his demands. This was just one glimpse of the sad and brutal reality of the French Revolution.
A small but interesting feature in the game was the coco sellers. You might’ve noticed in your playthrough that a few women were carrying cylinders on their backs. They sold this drink as refreshments to people and coincidentally, this practice started towards the end of the 18th century in the streets of Paris. It’s a nice little addition to the game that helps with the immersion in the city.
Paris Stories and Murder Mysteries
The Paris Stories and Murder Mysteries are particularly interesting with their diverse set of characters and objectives. You have the opportunity to interact with historical individuals such as Madame Tussaud, Mademoiselle Lenormand, Eugène François Vidocq ,Antoine Lavoisier, and many more. A mission in which you had to accompany a mourning woman to her son’s grave was the one that drew me in the most. It is apparent that the son was beheaded for false reasons which were common during those times. People were beheaded left and right especially during Robespierre’s Reign of Terror. Real-life occurrences were transformed into engaging side missions in Assassin’s Creed Unity, which have a greater impact on the player’s experience than the main plot.
Another great mission was finding the murderer of Jean-Paul Marat, a revolutionary political theorist and writer. Marat’s death was sensationalized during the French revolution which made him a martyr for the people. As such, you were tasked with finding the murderer. When you enter the crime scene, you see Marat laying dead in his bathtub as seen in Jacques Louis David’s painting, who also is coincidentally present. Solving various clues you finally find the murderer Charlotte Corday who confesses to the crime. All of these characters were real people with real stories properly emulated in Assassin’s Creed Unity.
While other Assassin’s Creed games did focus on real characters a lot, mainly the Ezio Trilogy, Unity’s dedication to historical authenticity and immersion in Paris should be applauded. The attention to detail in Revolutionary Paris has surely set a standard for future games willing to explore the setting.