Nothing is real
Sorrosyss, January 13th, 2019
Translated by: Stefania

Warning: Spoilers from Odyssey and across the franchise

“What is the truth?

We place faith in ourselves. we see the world the way it really is, and hope that one day all mankind might see the same.

What is the world then?

An illusion, one which we can either submit to, as most do, or transcend.

What is it to transcend?

To recognise that nothing is true, and everything is permitted.”

             - Al Mualim & Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad (Assassin's Creed, 2007)

Assassin's Creed is no stranger to the fringe of conspiracies. Thus we come to the current biggest theory of the franchise – is the entire Assassin's Creed universe a software simulation? And if so, who built it?

The Evidence
Source: LeoKRogue
Let us begin with what we have as suggested factual evidence. We have already covered in-depth the story of Layla Hassan (here and here), the cryptic Isu messages of Origins and Odyssey, and what the implications of her owning the Staff of Hermes Trismegistus are; so I'll try not to cover too much of the same ground here. But in summary:

  • The Isu outright state that “Reality is a simulation.”
  • That time is a “Code” that can be broken. Code of course would pertain to being part of an overall program.
  • The Staff of Hermes Trismegistus can supposedly affect the Code, presumably in combination with Layla's Animus to change reality itself potentially by adjusting the past.
  • The ability to see the Code, and to know of its existence is apparently “Knowledge” - the Sixth Sense – that which the Isu tried to keep from humanity, as highlighted by Juno in the past. The blue hues (or Eagle Vision), form part of this sense and explain why some individuals have pre and post-cognitive abilities.

So what could be the implications of these proposed facts? Well for starters...

The Modern Day Is Not What It Claims To Be
Source: AC Wiki
The first realisation is quite simple. The Modern Day cannot be our actual existence. The Simulation Hypothesis states that only an advanced civilization would be likely to be running a simulation of reality. But why would they do this? Entertainment? Historical research?

Let us take the scenario then that an advanced alien race has found the Earth, and that it lay destroyed. Perhaps they simply chose to run a simulation to try and determine what occurred here? The franchise likes to use cycles throughout its storytelling. It would not surprise me to find that as with Layla trying to find a way to fix a “node” in the Modern Day by revisiting the past, this advanced race could also be simply trying to understand what disaster happened in the ancient past of this planet.

Sounds far-fetched? Maybe. But we have seen this kind of story element in other forms of media, where the attempt to resolve “nodes” in time do not always go as planned. We have seen similar themes in Doctor Who with “fixed points in time”, Life Is Strange and its exploration of the Butterfly Effect, or The Flash TV show where Barry Allen fails to rewrite the flow of the past without destroying his present. As the Isu themselves ran simulation after simulation trying to find their solution to a terminal solar flare, perhaps “they” - the advanced alien race - are simply doing the same kind of predictions in an effort to save humanity from its own future. Again, it's a similar theme we have seen in the likes of Mass Effect, the Matrix, and Battlestar Galactica – civilizations are made to grow, and are ultimately destroyed again and again as part of either a natural cycle, or a grand simulated plan of a higher entity.

Source: LeoKRogue

If we look at our Modern Day protagonists, there have been some interesting points to bear in mind. Both Desmond and Layla can take damage in their playable sections, and when their health is low enough the player begins to see the same simulation distorting and screentearing as the historical characters they control in the Animus simulations. Coincidence? It may simply be a case of Ubisoft reusing the assets out of ease, but you have to appreciate they also made the conscious design decision to leave that in there when they could simply have let the screen bloom red by itself.

The Uprising comic series provided even more simulation evidence with its main protagonist Charlotte De La Cruz. The character repeatedly is told “Nothing is real”, and even starts to become convinced that she might be in a simulation herself, even suggesting that someone may be experiencing her life far in the future. It is also worth nothing that in the final issue she provides a narration of events as if from beyond the grave. How was this possible?

Well, in a way we do already have a massive piece of evidence of the simulation theory for several years now - The Grey. Think about it, why does the Assassin's Creed version of reality have a very odd digital afterlife where deceased entities are supposedly contained in code? Obvious answer, because all of reality, including the Modern Day – is theoretically a simulation.

But Who Created It?
So who are “they”? Who are the simulation creators? Metaphysical beings? Fifth dimension entities? Well, we don't actually know entirely. As I
Source: AC Wiki
suggested, they could well be an alien race, or simply advanced Earth dwellers who came before the Isu even. The Isu themselves actually do mention their precursors in the Ancient Mechanisms of Origins;

“These walls tell of a tragic story. A story we transcribed on our structures, on our artifacts. A story we could not alter. A mystery, defying us, in plain sight. We tried. Our scholars and scientists, poets and physicists. Bright minds. Rebellious hearts.

They all tried so hard to bring about change. They... we all failed.

None could change what we discovered. The stories written into the walls of these rooms. By whom, we never knew.

We know they tell of the future that is. The future that was. And the future that is yet to come.

The Stories. We failed at modifying a line. We failed at adding a single dot. It was clear. We were to be messengers at best. But messengers to whom?”

           - Retransmission Segment 3, Khesesh Em Sesh Em Eeneb

By implication, you could almost interpret it as the Isu being able to see the Code within reality written by the authors themselves. But what other evidence is there?

Well, Rogue features the intriguing Native American tale of the Sky Woman. This is in fact an Iroquois Creation Story, that tells how reality came to be. It is one of several such stories in Native American culture about “Star People” that came from the skies to guide humanity. Many Ancient Astronaut
Source: AC Wiki
theorists cite them as real world evidence of extraterrestrial beings. As we can reasonably conclude that the Isu are not space faring (otherwise they would have simply left the planet to avoid the Toba Catastrophe), we can only conclude that this particular story points to those who came before the Isu. After all, the Earth has supposedly existed for 4.5 billion years, and we only know of the Isu being around circa 75,000 years ago. Someone, or something, likely existed before them – so why not these Star/Sky People? After all, Aita already told us that the great mystery is “out there”.

With all of this in mind, it is therefore fascinating that along came the Celestial Armor and Naval pack for Odyssey. Now, far be it for me to read too much into a cosmetic pack, but I do find it interesting for example that the waist part to the armor set states that “the design is not of this world”. The descriptive text for the entire set states that it is “A remnant of the past who inspires fear and wonder in those worshiping the wrong gods”. Interesting! It is also worth noting that both The Host crew and the main protagonist obtain glowing eyes, as if to suggest they are controlled by or perhaps seeing a different realm to reality. This is something we have seen many times in the franchise, but the most relevant realm example here would be the “Sky World” seen in the Tyranny of King Washington. If we propose that the Star/Sky People do indeed exist on another realm, and can jump in and out of the simulation at will, then these “Celestials” have certainly been leaving a small trail of their existence through the franchise. Makes you wonder who exactly was communicating to Ratonhnhaké:ton...

Source: AC Wiki

Consider this then. The existence of multiple realms is quite prevalent in Norse mythology for example. If you subscribe to the theory that we may one day have a Vikings themed game, then this mythology too has already been touched on. Again, if we look at Rogue there is repeated references and imagery of Yggdrasil – also known as the Tree of Life or Cosmic Tree. It can be seen in both the Portugese Church, as well as upon Shay's belt.

Source: LeoKRogue

In mythology it connects the realm of the living to several others, including Helheim at its roots - the Underworld of the Dead, which in turn is often interpreted as being Hades (again this is referenced on the Celestial pack Horse). And what do we see in Connor's Eagle Vision in AC3? A REALLY big
Source: BloodyQuenchedSoul - Youtube
tree, where we descend down its roots into another realm...

Norse legends also cover the disaster to end the world (Ragnarok), the battle between Humans and Aesir (the Norse gods corresponding to the Isu), as well as the creation of the first man and woman – Ask and Embla – or as we know them, Adam and Eve. The coincidences just keep piling up. But moving back to the “Underworld”, one could even argue that the Grey and the Nexus may well be part of the same construct as well. For example, code can be seen in both of them. In the novelisation for Odyssey, when Kassandra touches the Pyramid she is transported to the “Underworld”,
Source: AC Wiki
which is described as a bright lighted plane of existence. Sound familiar?

From here she communes with her recently deceased father, Pythagoras (whom is aware of his death), through her touching of the Piece of Eden. This is most curious, as it is one of several examples of a consciousness being stored and retrieved from beyond our reality – such as Shao Jun emerging from a Precursor Box in Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia, the Isu Consus being contained in a Shroud, or even Juno being imprisoned as a disembodied entity within the Grand Temple. We know that the Isu used the Nexus to read the “Code” of space time to make calculations of the future, but in their efforts to try and manipulate it, it would appear that they somehow happened upon the ability to connect and download individuals from the great beyond, which actually likely formed part of the research of the Sixth Method of Salvation as presented in ACIII. Thus the connection between the Grey, the Nexus, and the Code is plain to see. This could in fact go some way to explaining how in the Assassin's Creed movie that Callum Lynch was able to visualize ancestors within the Animus room whom were not directly related to him. As Layla developed a lot of the technology for the Madrid Animus, it kind of makes sense as to how her own portable Animus evidently will have the same Code adapting abilities. As a final point, do we really believe that Clay Kaczmarek had the technical prowess to craft an Artificial Intelligence of himself? Even by modern standards, that level of technology is simply not there in our real world. So instead consider the alternative, where could his digital copy have originated from? Something to ponder. The answer may have been here all along. "What is a man, but the sum of his memories?” A literal equation of the Code.

Where will this all end?
In my view, if everything is a simulated existence, the story ramifications here could be vast. One could interpret that the Modern Day element is
Source: Brad Wright
possibly going to be removed by essentially being written out of relevance. It is the perfect opportunity to do so. I mean yes, Layla may ultimately understand how to manipulate the past, and discover a way to save the world and the Isu. But does it ultimately matter in the grand scheme of things? If everything is a simulation, including her, then where could the player's viewpoint end up if not the present day of the real world?

Without making the obvious comparison to Ubisoft being the ultimate masters and creators of the Assassin's Creed universe, what if this simulation is all actually occurring in the future? It would not be the first time after all, the first few games in the franchise were set in 2012 years beforehand. According to Patrice Desilets, the initial Creative Director of Assassin's Creed, the original plan for Desmond's story was for it to end upon a spaceship orbiting the Earth, with him then being able to time travel to see the Earth at various points in its past. Are we now simply seeing the narrative conclusion playing out as originally planned for the Modern Day? If said Spaceship contains a simulation capable machine akin to the Animus, then we theoretically still have a launchpad for all future games. Depending on where and when this ship exists, it could even be an opportunity to see sections of the Invisible War between the Assassins and Templars in futuristic settings, such as the way that Ghost Recon Phantoms envisioned the factions in 2032. Anyone up for a bit of Cyberpunk?

Source: Ghost Recon Wiki

To conclude, I confess this is all pretty high level theorycrafting, but you cannot deny that some elements here do actually make sense when viewed collectively inside of the lore. For if the entire franchise is a simulation, if indeed “Nothing is real”, it would ironically be so fitting. The mantra oft repeated by our Assassin heroes that “Nothing is true”, could end up being far more correct than they ever could have known.

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