Opening up with a foreword from the Brand Art Director Raphael Lacoste, The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag takes readers down to the very depths of the creation and research that takes place, before the game kicks into gear. With an art direction for diversity, epic, luminous and an awe inspiring experience, each page takes you on a non-interactive journey where the appreciation for the Assassin’s Creed franchise is more hands-on than ever before.
The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag gives us a detailed tour of every city, weapon, character, ship, and jungles that are available to explore within the game. The illustrations within the book build up your curiosity for playing the game while holding you at their pages to learn more about it. There’s a feeling of bonding between yourself, the book, and the game that keeps you engaged and eager to read on.
With the introduction of each illustration that awaits you on the next page, the artists provide a short description of the feeling and emotion, that they hope to deliver into the minds of the player. Hidden ruins and secret observatory’s for example aim to portray a sense of fright, and make the arms on your hair stand at end.
While the underwater locations of the game attempt to bring about a sense of unease and claustrophobia, through it’s narrow walls and dark lighting. Just looking into the rich and detailed colours of the underwater concepts gripped me with the sense of fright, but at the same time excited me for experiencing it hands-on with the game.
The book manages to delivers a non-interactive yet visually immersive walkthrough of the game based on what has been shown of Assassins Creed 4. This helped me dive deeper into its world and drags you in an unexplained way. It’s a strange and personal engagement that makes you curious if you haven’t yet played the game. It also gives us a look into the ideologies and personal outlooks of the artists themselves, and how they view their own work in reference to the subject. There’s a sense of the artist’s soul that remains with the artwork and you genuinely feel it.
The authentic and highly detailed approaches that were taken in order to portray accurate and highly realistic interpretation of the 18th Century Caribbean is well recognized through the works in the book. The futuristic vision that exists within the modern day landscapes of Abstergo have also been taken into account. It’s remarkable to see the relation that exists between the director’s vision and those of the artist’s, that work as one to create such fantastic looking environments.
The colorful references that exists between the concept art of the Abstergo building and its purpose within the game, grasps its meaning within the theme of the Assassin’s Creed world, as well as holding a direct purpose to the Caribbean Islands the player will visit within the game. The first concept art for the Abstergo Industries and the Entertainment Division Building within the game, is a clear presentation of how the series as a whole has expanded and evolved, and ultimately for the better.
The book also brings awareness to other characters in the game such as Bartholomew Roberts, Blackbeard, and Anne Bonny. The reader is treated to a hint of personality that these figures hold within the game. We also receive short back-stories on these people and how they may prove useful to you as a companion or enemy. The art direction that exists within the clothing choices, colour decisions, and style of dress that each of the characters have, is delivered through a precise message and reasoning that further immerses you into the book as well as the game.
The design choices and authenticity that is driven into the living world of the Caribbean, through the plants and sea-life are not forgotten. Killer whales, hammerhead sharks, and Great Whites are given pure attention to. The book also explains and makes it clear just how much of a role these creatures play in the game in reference to their natural behavior in reality. As the JackDaw is essentially a second character in the game where a huge emphasis is placed on looking after and upgrading your ship. We get an insight into the design process behind the JackDaw and how it plays a crucial role in reflecting Edward’s personality.
The further I explored the pages of this book, which literally felt like an exploration into the Assassin’s Creed world, I came to realize that with each page, each artistic technique that I had experienced, I essentially had the feeling that I was in the current location and experiencing its world. The illustrations of Jamaica Kingston and Nassau really made me feel part of the the game, or book depending on how you want to look at it. But with all this being said the book also felt like a massive spoiler.
If there’s something to be said about the Art of Assassin’s Creed 4, it’s that it truly delivers on bringing originality and showing the reader what their intentions and visions for the game are, through the creation and techniques from the roots of the artists.