Reflecting on The Animus Project

Hey. Did you know that, earlier this year, I began replaying the entire Assassin’s Creed franchise, starting with the very first game? It’s true! I’ve been documenting the process and recapping each game on my Ko-fi page in a blog series I’ve been calling “The Animus Project.”

You might be wondering, “Why are you bringing this up here?” Well, honestly, it’s because I’m still off-kilter from the time change and I woke up with a bunch of sinus issues, so I don’t really feel like writing a big Marvel Champions character breakdown because those take awhile. Don’t worry, though–if that’s the kind of content you’re looking for, I’m tackling Black Widow later this week!

I thought today I’d take a second to look at the Animus Project and reflect on my decision to marathon a franchise that’s almost fifteen years old.

I knew when I set out on this thing that it was a silly idea. I mean, there are a lot of these games! And some of them are pretty bad! Was it really worth replaying the whole series just to catch up to Valhalla? Honestly, I’m still not sure it was a smart call on my part, but–surprisingly–I’m leaning toward yes, it was.

Don’t get me wrong: the early going was rough. The first Assassin’s Creed game has not aged well, and the franchise only improves incrementally with each subsequent entry. What surprised me the most about revisiting the original was how interesting I found the story; in my head, I remembered the first game as not being very compelling narratively, with the plot really getting off the ground in ACII. Playing them again, though, I think I actually prefer the pacing and mystery of the first–the subsequent Ezio Trilogy has issues with pacing and other plot oddities that took me out of the experience a bit.

At this point, though, I’m early on in Assassin’s Creed III (gameplay-wise, that is–I only post TAP twice a week, so the posts are still in ACII right now) and things are looking good. I hit a brief snag playing Revelations, during which the repetitive gameplay and overabundance of side activities briefly broke me. I finally managed to power through, though, and firing up ACIII was something of a minor revelation (ha) for me. The running is so much smoother, the environments so much more interesting, the UI so sleek–it was like I was in a different franchise!

I still have a long way to go, for sure. After I wrap up III, I’ve still got Liberation, IV: Black Flag, Rogue, V: Unity, Syndicate, the three Assassin’s Creed Chronicles games, Origins, Odyssey, and at last, Valhalla (and that’s including all DLC, by the way–go big or go home, right?). Right now, though, I’m having a blast. It’s fascinating to see the little tweaks each game makes, the new things they try, and the way the intricate conspiracy plot builds on itself. In fact, the whole experience is making me interested in playing other long-running series from the start just to see how different franchises have evolved.

Another fun aspect has been doing a little bit of research into the real historical events the games portray. I don’t go super hard on that aspect for the Animus Project, but I try to get a feel for how accurate each game is to the people it portrays. It’s interesting to me how wildly that sways between games and even individual characters.

So, if this silly experiment sounds fun to you–or if you just want to watch my brain slowly melt as I try to reconcile why master Assassin Ezio Auditore would refuse to kill his sworn enemy, like, three different times across multiple games–maybe go check out the Animus Project! It’s kinda neat, if I do say so myself.

And, you know, if you happened to want to donate to that Ko-fi while you’re there, that’d be pretty cool of you.

Oh! This doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of this post, but I watched Assembled: The Making of WandaVision today on Disney+ and it was really, really good. Fascinating little documentary. Highly recommend to anyone who enjoyed WandaVision.

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