Note that the following review contains major spoilers for Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.
Created by UbiWorkshop and Ubisoft Montreal, Assassin’s Creed: Embers is 20-minute short film set after the events of the series’ latest instalment, Revelations. Unlike the superb Assassin’s Creed: Lineage web-series (2009) Embers is a 3D animation sporting bold, cartoon visuals, voiced by a number of actors from the acclaimed franchise.
From the opening scene it becomes immediately evident that Ezio is in bad health and, despite his passion and vigour, our protagonist is approaching the end of his days, the former assassin reflecting on his life and his achievements as well as the family he will soon leave behind. However the fates aren’t done with Ezio just yet, as he comes face to face with a member of the assassins order in dire need of his help, leaving him with one final dilemma.
Embers not only plays host to returning characters but a new female protagonist too, who, if rumours are to be believed, could carry the torch into the series’ next chapter despite not having any discernible blood ties to Desmond Miles. Born into royal captivity, Shao Jun served as a concubine to Emperor Zhengde, before being rescued and recruited by the assassins following the emperor’s downfall. The next emperor, Jiajing, was responsible for the gradual withering of the brotherhood in China, forcing Shao and her mentor to flee to Italia, their only hopes of restoring the order resting with the legendary master assassin, Ezio Auditore da Firenze.
The short does feature a few action sequences but for the most part Embers is centred on Ezio as a person, rather than as a killing machine. Animations are fluid and there are a number of locations used that will be immediately recognisable, Embers feeling much closer to the game-world than either Lineage or Ascendance. There are a few characters who look out of place (the original Broken Sword will come to mind more than once) with voicing also being a tad patchy in some areas. However, as a whole the production values are spot on, especially if you consider the generous asking price.
Embers could have done a few things differently, but it still shapes up as a fitting end for one of modern gaming’s most treasured protagonists. When your twenty minutes are up you might not be reaching for the tissues, but the short film does give a moment to reflect; from birth to death we’ve followed the life of Ezio Auditore da Firenze step by step, from his youthful romps and petty street brawls in Florence to his final epic quest at the assassin stronghold of Masyaf and now it’s time to say goodbye.