It’s rare when a videogame gets name-dropped by a politician, and when it does, it’s usually for bad reasons. Recently, Assassin’s Creed Unity became the latest example of that when it was criticized by a former French minister in a radio interview.
The minister, Left Party founder Jean-Luc Mélenchon, said that Unity’s depiction of the French Revolution was disgraceful and fed into anti-republican, far-right expectations.
Unity, as with previous games of the series, revolves around the fictional struggle between the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar orders. However, it frames this struggle around the decidedly non-fictional French Revolution, and throughout the plot, historical events and figures and the game’s own devices intersect in creative ways.
Clearly, this historical aspect hasn’t sat well with Mélenchon, who blasted the game for depicting figures like Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI as “fine upstanding people,” according to an article by The Telegraph, while in turn showing the revolutionaries to be “bloodthirsty savages.” According to Mélenchon, Marie Antoinette was a “cretin, who is celebrated as a poor little rich girl,” while Louis XVI was “treacherous.”
He also went on to lament the game’s depiction of Robespierre, one of the Revolution’s most well known advocates, saying that he is depicted as “a monster.” The real Robespierre is himself a controversial figure, with some championing his efforts to help the poor, and others condemning him for his use of mass executions and dictatorial actions.
Mélenchon, who two years ago ran a failed campaign for the French presidency, concluded his lengthy rant by stating that Unity “presents an image of hatred of the Revolution, hatred of the people, hatred of the republic which is rampant in the far-right milieux (of today).”
Of course, Unity’s developer and publisher Ubisoft, who themselves are French, have bigger problems on their hands, as the denizens of their game’s French Revolution are falling through floors into a physics-defying abyss and having their faces ripped off, among many, many other things. The developer has been toiling away, putting out massive patch after massive patch to resolve these issues.
You can keep up with their progress on their official blog.