Did you know that Assassin's Creed's Isu—the First Civilisation species that occasionally pops up to utter portents at you—have a whole constructed language that Ubisoft made for them? Me neither, since I stopped even trying to understand what's going on with that series and its metaplot by AC3, but Ubisoft's writers and artists have had to deal with the Isu language for years now, and at least one of them is less-than-thrilled about it: Hidden messages inserted into a recent AC comic show an artist's frustration at having to write in the made-up tongue.
"If someone can explain how to write this shit it would be much appreciated," reads an ancient and mysterious Isu tablet uncovered in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla—The Converts (opens in new tab), a graphic novel which released last week. Except that's not quite accurate: A direct transliteration actually spells out "If someose as esplais how to write this shit it would be muc appreiated". Hey, second languages are hard, and it turns out that maybe not all of Ubisoft's workers are fully trained up in the linguistic nuances of the AC series' precursor race.
The recently released #AssassinsCreed Valhalla - Les Convertis graphic novel, as we anticipated, sadly contains multiple bits of incorrect Isu Language... but apparently not only thatIt seems somebody was not briefed on how the language works and wanted to make it very clear 🤬 pic.twitter.com/g9i3b3TnKqJanuary 26, 2023
The exasperated message was first spotted by fans over at Access the Animus (opens in new tab) (via Kotaku (opens in new tab)), who note glumly that it's not a very good example of the Isu script at all. Rather than treating it "as its own language with its rules, grammar and vocabulary," the message instead consists of "English letters converted to the Isu ones '1-to-1'". It's a particular sore spot for Access the Animus, who deciphered the Isu language (opens in new tab) years ago at this point, but frankly, a message begging for help with "how to write this shit" in flawless Isu would have been a little paradoxical.
If anything, it feels like a great metaphor for the AC metaplot as a whole: A grandiose idea that has to filter through a few thousand Ubisoft staff members and contractors before it can actually be executed, not all of whom are fully up-to-date with the granular details. With twelve main games, one awful film (opens in new tab), and who-knows-how-many tie-in novels and comics, it's probably almost impossible to get everyone working on AC projects on the same narrative page. You've got to expect the odd primal scream from someone whose paycheque depends on them parsing what all this stuff really means.
So I'm glad I don't have to, and can instead just sit back and await Assassin's Creed: Mirage (opens in new tab), the next game in the series that promises a return to the smaller-scale, more stealth-focused gameplay of the early AC games. Perhaps that's just what Ubisoft needs to turn around its recent run of setbacks and misfires (opens in new tab).