Why Assassin’s Creed Has So Much Bird Symbolism

Why Assassin’s Creed Has So Much Bird Symbolism

Birds appear throughout each game in the Assassin’s Creed franchise in some form or another, and it all ties to their connection with the Isu.

The Assassin’s Creed franchise is known for its historical set pieces and impressive parkour mechanics, but a key feature in each entry is the presence of avian themes and bird symbolism. Whether seen in the earlier games with Altair and Ezio who had the power of Eagle Vision, or the later entries in which the protagonists were telepathically linked to actual birds, their presence is not just a coincidence. The symbolism and inclusion of birds in the Assassin’s Creed series has grown to function on different levels, weaving into the series’ peculiar modern-day narrative.

Beyond Assassin’s Creed protagonists having hidden blades and parkour skills, the most important shared mechanic across each entry relates to birds. More recent games like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla allow the player to see through their bird companion’s eyes and scout the area, but prior games employed the use of Eagle Vision – an otherworldly sixth sense.

Related: All The Assassin’s Creed Games Ranked Worst To Best (According To Metacritic)

While designing the first Assassin’s Creed game, the creative team noted the predatory nature of the assassins was akin to a bird of prey. Assassins observe and study their target before attacking quickly and undetected. This comparison became so integral that the assassin’s costume got a bird-like, pointed hood to simulate the beak and a baggier cloak to represent tail feathers. This all tied together neatly with the soaring leap of faith maneuver and the aerial assassinations, much like an attacking bird. Synchronization points in the games include a large bird perched in place to symbolize this deeper connection and highlight the best vantage point for assassins.

The Birds of Assassin’s Creed: From Sacred Blessing To Loyal Companion

The significance of birds dates back to the Isu, the ancient alien civilization. Jupiter wore a helmet made to resemble an eagle while being worshipped by the Romans. This made the eagle into a sacred bird of the gods. Those born with the gift of Eagle Vision are descendants of crossbreeding between humans and the Isu, and so gained this god-like power from their lineage. With no real explanation for humans to understand, it was seen as a gift from the gods and became associated with the sacred animal.

As the series progressed, the significance of birds appeared more often. In Assassin’s Creed III Connor has a vision with Juno, an Isu, and they both manifest in the vision as eagles. In Assassin’s Creed Origins the iconic logo is revealed as the imprint of Bayek’s eagle skull after it fell in the sand. Altair’s name derives from the brightest star in the Aquila constellation, the eagle, and Ezio collects eagle feathers in memory of his younger brother. Through each age, the eagle and other birds have a significant connection to each of the assassins blessed with the gift of the Isu.

The Assassins exist as a direct opposition to the Templars, who seek to rule the world through order and law. The Assassins pursue freedom of choice and free will for the people in their mission. The symbolism of the eagle is not limited to their manner of attack and connection to the Isu, but also relates to their nature as protectors of freedom. Birds are truly free, able to go anywhere and do anything they desire. It’s a natural parallel for Assassin’s Creed, its design, history, and beliefs.

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