Releasing a few days after the video game on which it’s based, The Art of Assassin’s Creed: Origins is an incredible compilation of images that would be the basis for the look and feel of the newest Ubisoft installment. The Assassin’s Creed franchise has been known for bringing to life a blend of fiction and real-world historical events and figures. The most recent story brings the player to the long anticipated ancient Egypt setting and this book is a testament to the lengths that the creators went to recreate that time period as accurately as they could. To showcase the immense thought and research Ubisoft went into recreating Egypt, Titan Books has created an art companion that does that hard work justice.
One of the several spreads scattered throughout this book.
The first thing to note is the incredible cover art, which caught my eye the moment I picked it up. The dust jacket is a simple matte black with the main protagonist Bayek centered and his bow reaching top left corner to bottom right. This art, along with the title of the book at the bottom, gives off a photo sheen, making them really pop against the dark background. When you remove the front dust jacket the hardcover is again matte black with a large Egyptian Assassin’s Creed Symbol in the middle. Its a very simple design but very effective.
The dust jacket and front cover
The beginning of the book starts with an introduction to Bayek, who the player will be controlling throughout the main storyline, before segueing into other character and weapon artwork. As you continue to move through the book, character art will continue to pop in where appropriate, but the majority of this book is a look into the diverse scenery. This is one thing that surprised me about the game and ultimately the artwork. Most, when thinking of Egypt would picture pyramids, ancient cities, sand, and well…more sand. There was more to ancient Egypt, which Ubisoft has chosen to include, however. This book contains illustrations of not only your initial impressions but deserts, mountains, oasises, lush greenways, and costal cities. The artwork is so impressive that I consistently forget I’m looking through an art book for a video game.
A depiction of how colorful this location can be.
Jean-Claude Golvin was the main researcher who guided Ubisoft’s artists through this project. His drawing and watercolors, which are included, give a detailed but easy to understand look at these cities. Building on this artistic interpretation, Vincent Gaigneux, Martin Deschambault and Raphael Lacoste provide paintings that breathe so much life into these locations. There are several other artists that contributed to the beautiful images in this book but these were the ones that stood out to me the most. With that said, you could open up to any page and be immediately drawn into whatever illustration lays before you.
One of Jean-Claude Golvin’s drawings depicting the pyramids.
My favorite part of the book are the paragraphs you get on almost every page that details the “why” behind each image. Most of them have historical importance, while some are to build upon the setting of the game. Some are for inspiration and some weren’t for any particular reason other than they “wanted to.” It also helps to understand the challenge of recreating a civilization from so long ago. For example, the design of the bandits didn’t come from any particular historical artifact, but are made up of a hodgepodge of items a thug might get his hands on.
“The bandits were an interesting challenge. We needed them to look like a mashup of all factions, just pirate assholes who went around using whatever armor or materials they could scavenge, yet still make them somewhat consistent looking as a faction. I liked to think of them as Mad Max: Egypt. We ended up having to really push the colors into red and green to help identify them as being neither Roman nor Egyptian.”
The Art of Assassin’s Creed: Origins is a fantastic companion to the game itself. I’ve been a huge Assassin’s Creed fan since the first game and I’ve played almost every one since then. As excited as I was when I found out the assassins were moving to Egypt, I didn’t yet have plans to pick the game up before acquiring this book. However, after spending several hours looking at gorgeous images of what helped build the environment, I’m more excited than ever to get my hands on this world. If you’ve already picked the game up, this will help expand on your appreciation for everything you see around you. If you don’t have it yet and are an Assassin’s Creed fan, interested in the game making process, or an art book enthusiast, I would say you can’t go wrong with this one. You can find it for under $30 on Amazon right now too.
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