Nothing is True
Can I say how amazing it is to have this kind of crossover in our current age of media? A crossover of two hugely popular franchises like Final Fantasy and Assassin’s Creed seems improbable. Square Enix’s announcement of the DLC blindsided all of us, but the collaboration wasn’t entirely foreign. In the past crossovers between franchises have been limited to downloadable skins and costumes (like the Ezio Auditore costume packs available for FFXIII-2). To have a fully fleshed-out DLC with a story is nothing short of miraculous. This is the sort of crossover that only exists in fan fiction.
The game opens with the maxim of the Assassin’s Creed: “Nothing is true; everything is permitted.” In a way, that sums up my feelings about the DLC. FFXV has gone and added features and extras so many times that fans are often left wondering if the franchise is having an identity crisis (I mean Power Ranger costumes, an off-road Regalia car, sniping like a first person shooter? I thought this was a JRPG?). But the maxim of the Assassins puts everything in perspective. If “nothing is true,” meaning that you can reject the fundamental principles of JRPG and game designs, then “everything is permitted,” meaning that you can create any kind of game you want.
Square Enix and Ubisoft have created literally anything they want. The Assassin’s festival is an entertaining blending of the game mechanics of FFXV and the stealth mechanics of the AC franchise.
Everything is Permitted
The DLC grounds the AC franchise as both a local legend to the town of Lestallum and a popular video game in the world of Eos. Noctis and Prompto are both giant fan boys of the series. At one point, Gladiolus asks what the Assassin’s Creed thing is all about, and Noctis starts off on a fan boy summary of the series (you know the summaries I’m talking about. Admit it, you’re guilty of them too) only to be cut off. Through a series of story events, Noctis loses the power of kings and has to rely on Assassin techniques to free the town from the grip of the Empire.
The DLC is a strange beast—there is no denying that. It’s a blend of everything you would expect from Assassin’s Creed. You preform leaps of faith into piles of hay, stealth assassinations from haystacks, air assassinations on unsuspecting bad guys. It’s also a blend of the “fantasy based on reality” world of FFXV. Prompto says that he will text Ignis and Gladio the locations of enemies. There are chocobos and televisions.
It’s the little things that bring the festival to life. I was amazed by the townspeople dressed in costumes from almost all the previous Assassin’s Creed franchises. As someone that has played almost all the main AC games, the DLC became a who’s who activity as I identified the different outfits (Ooooo look! There’s Ezio from the AC2, and there’s Edward’s outfit from AC4!). I particularly enjoyed the voicework in the DLC. If you hide in a dumpster, Prompto might complain about your smell. “Don’t stand so close to me.” “I smell FINE,” Noctis will reply.
Sadly, you do run into game mechanics problems of both franchises. I never liked the jumping in FFXV and it’s still a pain. The game also suffers from moments of “WHY ARE YOU CLIMBING THAT?!” that every AC player will be familiar with. It’s frustrating but not enough to make me rage quit or anything.
FFXV: Assassin’s Creed Festival is a fun distraction from the main storyline, and is a huge improvement over the Chocobo Carnival. While the carnival was a strangely solitary experience, the Assassin’s Creed Festival brings all of the chocobros together and feels more like something that would be happening in the story rather than some strange purgatory. While wandering around with Prompto, it’s possible to bump into Gladio hitting on beautiful women in the city. Ignis doesn’t come up with many new recipes here, but he does offer his brain in helping you figure out an Assassin’s treasure hunt.
What FFXV did a good job of was building up the relationship between the four characters and having you care about what happened to them. It’s a joy to be able to hang out with them again.