“Assassin’s Creed: Shadows” Director Inspired by Classic “Tenchu”, Talks Japanese Setting & Other Details

Ubisoft has announcedAssassin's Creed: Shadows” is scheduled to be released on November 15th for PS5 / Xbox Series X|S / Windows (Ubisoft Store, Epic Games Store) / Mac (Mac App Store). The Game * Spark editorial department attended the presentation and hands-on of the game at the local venue of Ubisoft Forward held in Los Angeles, USA. We also interviewed the game director, Charles Benoit.

The venue was decorated in accordance with the film, and in addition to the statue included in the Collector's Edition, Naoe's kusarigama and Yasuke's sword were also on display.

In this article, we will present an interview with Benoit along with our hands-on impressions of the game.


Yasuke's powerful fighting skills are on full display as he mows down his enemies with style!

The setting for the hands-off game is Fukuchiyama Castle. It is a castle in Tanba Province known for being built by Akechi Mitsuhide. The objective is to assassinate the feudal lord who rules this area. First, it seems necessary to assassinate his subordinate samurai, so we stroll around the castle town.

It was a strange sight to see a samurai in armor petting a dog in the middle of town.

Because Yasuke is a member of the samurai class, the townspeople bow to him when he walks around town. He is also wearing heavy armor, so he stands out like crazy. There was no parkour shown in the hands-off game, so it seems like some ingenuity is needed to play stealthily as Yasuke.

I soon found a samurai to serve as my target, but because he was a traveler from around the country and because of Yasuke's appearance, I had to fight him head-on, not stealthily. It seems that you can equip up to two weapons at the same time, and in this hands-on session I was equipped with an imposing iron club and a sword.

Although the movement of the iron club is slow, it seems to be as powerful as it looks, as it can easily throw off the opponent's posture and break their helmet. Dynamic combat was demonstrated, such as a spectacular finishing move on a dying enemy and a skill to jump on the enemy and blow away all the enemies around them.


By the way, Yasuke can also smash through doors with a shoulder charge. In any case, he seems to be a powerful character.

There was also some solid sword fighting going on, with some tense action as the sword fighters parried attacks and struck the enemy to throw them off balance.

In the end, you finish off your enemy by decapitating him after draining his stamina. It may seem a bit far-fetched to be in a position that resembles a suicide pact, but the ink painting-style screen presentation creates a great atmosphere. I felt the spirit of “if it looks cool, it's OK.”

Afterwards, Naoe appears out of nowhere and sets off to assassinate the feudal lord at Fukuchiyama Castle. At this point, you can choose to control either Yasuke or Naoe. The play feel of the two characters seems quite different, so the strategy and difficulty of the game will change depending on which one you choose. In this hands-on session, Naoe was chosen.

Stealth play that reminds me of old ninja games! A ninja assassin blending into the darkness

From here, the scene shifts to the inside of Fukuchiyama Castle at night, where Naoe begins her play. The inside of the castle is quite detailed, and most of the buildings seem to be freely accessible.

One eye-catching feature is the addition of crawling movement. Crouching movement has been added to recent titles in the series, but in this game, crawling movement is finally possible. Even in low grass, you can move safely without being detected by crawling. It can be said that the options for movement routes during stealth play have been further expanded.

Also, a new action has been added, which allows you to climb up to the roof in one go using a rope. This function is reminiscent of the “rope launcher” from “Syndicate”, but this only allows you to hook onto the eaves of the roof and climb up, so you can't move as dynamically as you would like. However, the addition of the action to climb up to the roof in one go, ignoring walls that have no protrusions, is very much appreciated. It's also good that it's a very ninja-like movement.

In addition, a new system has been added to this game in which brightness affects stealth. If you hide in the darkness where light cannot reach, you can proceed without being detected by the enemy. Using this, you can turn off the lights and approach the enemy to assassinate them or let them pass. There are also many light sources such as lanterns installed in the room, so turning off these frequently seems to be the key to winning.

We were also able to see the common trope of period dramas, such as “assassination through a shoji screen,” as well as non-lethal takedowns, which have been implemented since recent titles.

Of course, there were some ninja-like moves, too. The player was shown hanging from the ceiling to avoid enemies, and even a Water Release technique was shown. The Water Release technique was a simple visual, just pulling out a bamboo tube, but it drew huge cheers from the entire venue, and it was clear that the game successfully incorporated ninja-like fantasy elements.

At the end, he finishes off the target daimyo by approaching him from behind with a Suiton technique. His typical action was on full display, and the tension in the audience seemed to be higher than during Yasuke's part.

After the hands-on session, we interviewed Charles Benoit, the game's director, and asked him a few questions.

Interview with Assassin's Creed Beyond Shadows Director Charles Benoit!

— I think the ninja was a perfect subject to depict in Assassin's Creed. Why do you think there hasn't been an Assassin's Creed game with a ninja as the main character? Why was the ninja chosen now?

Mr. Charles Benoit (hereinafter, Charles)As you say, I knew that the perception of “Assassin = Shinobi” was widely shared. However, each title of “Assassin's Creed” is made with various themes and the development studios are different.

In addition, each studio needs to consider what they want to do with that title, their roadmap, what their fans want, etc. After considering all of this and the development of the brand, we decided on this timing.

–Did you seek the cooperation of Japanese experts in the historical research of the development? Also, how much effort did you put into the research?

CharlesWe have a network of experts that we have cultivated through the development of the series so far, and we utilized that to get the cooperation of three history experts living in Japan. We also worked with Ubisoft Japan to collect information and share information in weekly remote meetings. In addition, there were more than 1,000 pages of documents in the shared folder of the development studio, and we made use of those.

–In the Assassin's Creed universe, the existence of a Japanese assassin named Yamauchi Taka was revealed in Assassin's Creed Memories. He was a person from the Azuchi-Momoyama period, just like in this game, and was the assassin who assassinated Oda Nobunaga. In addition, real people such as Hattori Hanzo, Honda Tadakatsu, and Mochizuki Chiyome are involved in the universe. Will these people be involved in this game?

CharlesThe settings and storyline told in “Memories” are unrelated to this game. However, Hattori Hanzo is scheduled to appear in the game.

–We were able to see Naoe play during the hands-off session. There were stealth elements not seen in previous games in the series, such as turning off the lights and using the darkness to stealth, or hanging from the ceiling to avoid enemies. These seem to be distinctive elements of the company's Splinter Cell series, but were there any parts of the game that you referenced from that series?

CharlesThere are no parts inspired by “Splinter Cell.” If anything, I wanted to focus on the fantasy elements of the ninja as the main focus of the gameplay, and the movements in the game were inspired by ninja movies from the 1980s and the ninja game “Tenchu” series released in Japan.

— In Valhalla, there was a degree of freedom in the equipment of weapons, and it was even possible to fight with a shield in each hand. In this game, I think this is particularly relevant to Yasuke, but can you freely equip weapons?

CharlesFirst, Yasuke and Naoe each have weapons that they can equip. Although there isn't as much freedom as with a shield in each hand, you can equip up to two weapons at the same time and switch between them freely. In this game, it's important to find the weapon and combination that is easiest for you to use.

Each weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses, for example, the iron club can attack powerfully but is slow, while the sword is suitable for quick enemies. There are also different types within each weapon category, and there are swords that can cut through the enemy's armor, and swords that can cause bleeding and reduce their stamina, so a wide variety of weapons can be used in battle.

Yasuke can also use a matchlock gun.
The kusarigama used by Naoe has a wide attack range, and by throwing weights at the enemy, she can close the distance in an instant.

— Yasuke is the first protagonist in the series to be based on a real person, and has sparked debate both in Japan and overseas. Why was he chosen from among the many real-life samurai?

CharlesFirstly, from a gameplay perspective, we wanted to clearly depict the difference in style between Naoe, who is a stealth-focused ninja, and a combat-focused character. Just looking at their body sizes, the difference is immediately obvious.

The next reason from a story perspective is that they were close to Nobunaga. Yasuke was someone who witnessed Nobunaga's efforts to unify the country from close up, while Naoe was someone who was tormented by Nobunaga. I wanted to create a contrast between the two main characters.

The last reason is that Naoe, as a Japanese person, has a perspective from inside Japan, while Yasuke, as a foreigner, has a perspective from outside. This was a time when the Portuguese arrived in Japan and Japan was greatly influenced culturally. I wanted to portray that aspect.

-Finally, please say a few words to your Japanese fans.

CharlesDeveloping this game gave me the opportunity to learn more about Japanese history. The Sengoku period is a very interesting and fascinating time when heroes and other characters appeared. Of course, I think that Japanese people are well aware of this history, but I hope that you will enjoy the Sengoku period in our game, Assassin's Creed: Shadows.

It has been rumored for a long time that the Japanese setting of “Assassin's Creed” will be released. This long-awaited release seems to have been completed by taking the two elements of “combat” and “stealth” to the extreme. I'm looking forward to a work that will give you two great things in one, where you can enjoy ninja fantasy and spectacular sword fighting action.

Assassin's Creed: Shadows is scheduled to be released on November 15th for PS5/Xbox Series X|S/Windows (Ubisoft Store, Epic Games Store)/Mac (Mac App Store).