After today's Ubisoft Forward, we now know that Assassin's Creed Codename Hexe is an upcoming game reportedly set during 16th century Europe when the region was in the throes of the witch hunt. The word 'hexe' is an old British English term for witch, so you can imagine you'll either be playing as one – or hunting them. As such, it looks like the darkest Assassin's creed game yet, which gets me amped the hell up.
My favorite moments in Assassin's Creed Valhalla are the scary bits: the Druids, the Grendel sidequest, the Daughters of Lerion – any moment where I was actively sweating and anxious. An entire Assassin's Creed game that takes those dark moments and expands upon them so they envelop the narrative, the gameplay, and the tone sounds like a terrifying dream I can't wait to dive into. How could you not love an Assassin's Creed game that feels like a scarier version of the Witcher, and a game that's rooted in one of the darker times in European history?
We don't know much more about Assassin's Creed Codename Hexe, or the broader Assassin's Creed Infinity platform it will sit within, but there are so many possibilities to pursue and inspirations to draw from that I can at least offer up some educated (and excited) guesses.
While the Assassin's Creed series has its fair share of creepy moments, no game gave us more spooky stuff than Assassin's Creed Valhalla. The first time I encountered one of the Daughters of Lerion (three children whose father practiced dark magic and was killed to stop his cult from growing), it was by complete accident. I was wandering through East Anglia when I came across a bog with a skeleton tied up at one end of it. When I approached the horrific site – he was tied to a stake with his arms outstretched by ropes wrapping his wrist and around nearby trees – it triggered a cutscene.
Lighting struck around Eivor and a terrifying figure approached, asking if I had come to pay respects to King Lerion. Before I even got a chance to properly see the figure, (who the subtitles identified as Cordelia), she let out a horrific scream, attacked, and killed me within moments. I was incredibly underpowered for this encounter, for sure, but the experience genuinely freaked me out. And that wasn't the only time Assassin's Creed Valhalla gave me the creeps: there was the creepy lady of the lake who tried to add me to her house full of body parts by luring me over with her siren song, or the giant, alien-like creature I accidentally found while wandering Jotunheim that actually made me so uncomfortable I had to turn on the lights in real life.
Valhalla cleverly leans into the creepiness as much as it can (the Wrath of the Druids DLC has some seriously spooky undertones), but I want an Assassin's Creed game whose sole purpose is to unnerve you.
The very brief teaser trailer for Assassin's Creed Codename Hexe doesn't give us all that much: the camera tilts down through tangled branches in a misty forest while a dog barks in the distance. Eventually, the camera reveals the Assassin's Creed logo made out of twigs and twine, in a fashion that references the creepy stick sigils from the Blair Witch Project. Try as I might, I can't make out what the runes are that show on the title treatment, but some of the symbols are very similar to traditional witch runes.
If Bloomberg's Jason Schreier (opens in new tab) is to be believed, Hexe will take place during "the latter stages of the Holy Roman Empire and revolve around witch trials." Let's get some context for that. The witch trials of the Holy Roman Empire mainly took place in what is now modern-day Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. After witchcraft was declared a crime by the empire in 1532, the varying autonomous states within that empire took vastly different approaches to doling out justice. And interestingly enough, much of what took place back then has been lost to the sands of time, according to H.C. Erik Midelfort's book 'Witch Hunting in Southwestern Germany, 1562-1684 (opens in new tab)'. That means that dozens, if not hundreds of women could have been executed without our knowledge.
It's a scary thought, isn't it? Now, imagine if you apply it to the Assassin's Creed formula. What if you play as an assassin whose power and knowledge, and erm, special, abilities have them marked as a witch? And because of this, you'll have to lean into the more stealthy gameplay aspects of the franchise, making your way across Europe trying to kill the religious leaders (who are all Templars, of course) and put an end to this.
Or, since the trailer is clearly leaning into the creepy, Blair Witch-y aspects of witchcraft, perhaps you'll have to do all of this while also coming up against some seriously powerful and evil actual witches. Maybe they're behind these false witch hunts as a means of drawing attention away from themselves, and you'll have to battle the powerful and creepy baddies just like the Daughters of Lerion.
There are so many paths Ubisoft can take with Assassin's Creed Hexe – I just hope all of them are dark and scary.
Assassin's Creed Hexe wasn't the only new announcement out of the Ubisoft Forward 2022. The publisher also unveiled Assassin's Creed Mirage for release in 2023, and the next open-world flagship installment to the series in Assassin's Creed Codename Red.