About once or twice a year I get a nostalgic feeling about an old video game I haven’t played in a while. My fellow gamers out there know exactly what I’m talking about.
Now, I can’t really call it retro gaming because it’s light years ahead of Pong or Space Invaders. But there is something special about dusting off some older games and giving them another try.
Recently I’ve been enjoying Assassins Creed IV: Blackflag. This game stood out because it was the first major shift in gameplay within the Assassins Creed series, adding naval combat, diving missions, managing a fleet of trading vessels, and more.
I thought it would be fun to give anyone who hasn’t played a quick overview of the game (Maybe you want to pick it up yourself, vintage gaming is budget gaming, I scored this one for $10) as well as give my observations on this series references to the Christian faith.
This game takes place during the 18th century. You play as Edward Kenway, a privateer who thinks he can make a good life with a little piracy on the seven seas. During these swashbuckling adventures, he crosses paths with an Assassin named Duncan who has betrayed his clan and is attempting to sell secrets to the main antagonist group The Templars. Unfortunately for Duncan, Edward beats him in combat & steals his identity as the would-be double crosser seeing as The Templars have never actually met Duncan.
Throughout the game, Edward learns more about the Assassins and The Templars causing him to change his motivations & plans for his future.
Christian References and My Thoughts
For anyone unfamiliar with Assassin’s Creed, the game has lots of interesting references to Christianity. As a youth playing these games I was not well versed in scripture or doctrine, so many of these passed by my attention unnoticed. This time I find myself immersed even more while seeing Christian references pop up throughout the game. First of all The Templars are primarily connected to these references. The members are usually part of the Catholic faith and assume some significant roles like cardinals, bishops, etc. There are churches and Christian symbols littered throughout the game such as crosses, trinity depictions, mentions of the Garden of Eden.
The Templars are not actually interested in Christian truth though, they simply see the church as a tool to exercise control over people. This reminds me of the verse, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.” Matthew 7:15 NLT
Paul also mentions people using the name of Christ for personal gain which is exactly what The Templars are attempting to do. The Assassins (while the name sounds violent) believe controlling people through violent subjection or manipulation is wrong and therefore must be stopped.
Earlier entries in the series actually take part in some biblical locations like Damascus. It’s cool seeing these ancient cities recreated virtually for you to explore.
Obviously, there are problems with the ideology of both groups, they don’t mirror Christ’s teaching in any meaningful way. The game series does attempt to be historically accurate so you can see the development of the church represented fairly accurately. Missionaries planting churches in unreached areas are referenced in a couple of spots within Blackflag.
Overall, I find Blackflag an enjoyable experience. You learn a little history, sail the open seas, and listen to some amazing sea shanties while you do it.
I also find it interesting looking at different people’s thoughts on Christianity come through in their artistic practices. Video games being a form of entertainment art leaves room for great freedom of expression and Black Flag definitely has lots to pick up on. For a quick rating, I’d give Assassin’s Creed: Blackflag a 7/10, definitely worth a play or a replay for some of us, and for the budget gamer $10-$15 is right on target.