author: Kristian Smoszna
I Don't Believe in Assassin's Creed 1 Remaster, But I'd Love to be Wrong
This year the Assassin's Creed series celebrates its fifteenth anniversary, and just like in 2017, fans are hoping to for a remaster of the original game. I dream about it myself, even though I absolutely don't believe in it.
On November 14, 2022, in less than five months, it will be fifteen years since the original release in the Assassin's Creed series. Ubisoft already began the celebrations, but the biggest guns will be rolled out only in September, when we will learn the French giant's plans for its flagship brand in the near future. Fans of the series are quietly hoping that in addition to information about a new game, the publisher will take the opportunity to finally address the issue of a remaster or remake of the part one, which has been bothering Ubisoft for years. The upcoming anniversary would be perfect for this, especially since we didn't see such an announcement in 2017, when the series celebrated its round, tenth birthday.
Is it even likely to happen? Chances exist, of course, although they're slim in my opinion. My disbelief stems primarily from Ubisoft's reluctance to take on this subject. Reluctance which, incidentally, led to an interesting conclusion – the first Assassin's Creed is the only part of the series, which in any shape or form has not lived to see an official release on eighth-generation consoles. Ubisoft did port all the big games starting from part four to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and added the smaller Liberation i Rogue, but they never did it with the original, whose return has been most strongly advocated by fans for years.
What might this reluctance stem from? There are actually two theories. The first one says that the game differs too much from the later installments of the series in terms of design, so it would require a total overhaul, such as replacing the boring and repetitive activities with varied, genuine missions, because it is difficult to enjoy simplistic mini-games today before the main course, i.e. the actual assassination of the target. In essence – a decent, well-thought-out remake would be awesome if it wouldn't focus solely on improving the visuals, but also mixed up things in the gameplay departament. This, in turn, would require a significant commitment of resources, so it simply doesn't make economical sense.
The second theory has to do with the content itself, specifically the various jabs aimed at religion. Assassin's Creed is, after all, a story about a Syrian murderer of Christians, belonging to an order openly mocking the figure of Jesus Christ. For the brotherhood's mentor, Al Mualim, Jesus was an ordinary carpenter and impostor, who, thanks to artifacts created by the First Civilization, performed the famous "miracles;" turning water into wine, reinvigorating Lazarus, and all that. There are many more such accents in the game and the developers were well aware that they might prove too controversial for many audiences. The famous disclaimer at the intro of the game saying it was "designed, developed and produced by a multicultural team of various religious faiths and beliefs" wasn't there just for the heck of it. Today we don't pay much attention to this brief message, because it's a permanent element of all the instalments of the Assassin's Creed series. Originally, however, it was simply there to protect the studio from any potential accusations of religiophobia, racism, etc.
This, in my opinion, is where the crux of the problem lies. What went largely unnoticed fifteen years ago could cause unnecessary controversies today. For the reasons described above, the first Assassin's Creed clearly differs from what the series became today, which is a completely balanced product aimed at the wide masses, which is supposed to bridge any possible divisions, rather than create new ones. The first game seems to be very uncomfortable in this regard and that's why Ubisoft is not particularly eager to refresh it. A global brand such as Assassin's Creed doesn't need any controversies – it's sole purpose is to make money.
I'm fully aware that I could be wrong and the remaster could still be announcemed in September. However, I stand by my opinion because I believe that if Ubisoft hadn't been afraid of Altair's adventures in the Crusades for some specific reason, the game would have been re-released in some form long ago, especially since fans themselves have been asking for it for years. Strangely enough, however, this is not happening, and the people at Ubisoft associated with the brand are clearly avoiding the subject.
In fact I wish I was wrong and I dream of a remaster or remake becoming a reality. Sure, I can still play the original on PC, and I've even done it from time to time, but such a move would prove me wrong. All in all, it would be an interesting experience. The new generation could see that the Assassin's Creed series used to be very naughty, and understand why its slogan "history is our playground" made more sense back then than it does now. They were brave enough to go over the edge; today, unfortunately, they can't.