When Assassin's Creed Origins Goes Dark, It Goes Dark

When it gets dark in a video game, it's usually not all that dark. The cave you're in may be dim. The forest at night might be shadowy. But video games almost never go pitch black. Assassin's Creed Origins is a welcome exception.

I've been replaying Origins on PC, taking a more methodical approach than I did when I reviewed the game on PS4 last fall. I'm currently in Giza, a region of the map that's home to a variety of pyramids and their enclosed tombs.

Anytime you enter one of those tombs, the game will remind you (incessantly) that you should take out a torch to light dark spaces. Unlike most games, however, it really means it.

Origins isn't the only game to actually require a light source in dark places, of course. But in so many other games, "dark" actually means "dim." A cave in Skyrim or The Witcher 3 is rarely if ever entirely dark. Skyrim even has mods that make nights and dungeons darker, because in the vanilla game, you never really need to use torches.

In some games, you can compensate for dim rooms by turning up the brightness. For example, in Resident Evil VII, you can turn up the brightness so that this:

becomes this:

In Assassin's Creed Origins, a tomb interior looks like this with the brightness set at 50:

...and here's what it looks like with the brightness maxed out at 100:

Now with slightly more blue!

It is really, truly dark. Until you light a torch, the visual information simply isn't there.

There are no doubt good reasons most games don't go that dark, of course, and I'm not suggesting all video games should make their darkened rooms pitch black. But I do like that the tombs in Origins are actually as "dark as a tomb."

If you've ever gone spelunking in real life, you know how dark caves can be. Once you're a little ways in, it becomes so dark you can't see anything. You can't see your hand in front of your face. You can't see your eyelids when you close your eyes.

Your eyes don't adjust, because there's literally no light for them to capture. It's much the same whenever Bayek goes into a tomb in Origins. Douse his torch, and it's as though your TV has turned off.

I mostly keep Bayek's torch lit, so I rarely experience that engulfing darkness. I still like knowing that it's out there, just outside the torch's glow.

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Comments

    Doom 3 was the same with its absolute darkness - mostly because its dynamic lighting engine had no real ambient light (at least none that didn't break shadows). If there was no light source, it was pitch black.

      Dont forget the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series as well. when it was night time and there was no moon out you couldnt see shit

    Just recently played The Long Dark and when its full night time its just the worst... Literally cant see anything but your reticle if you are in doors and there's no light source around. Guess it's in the name though haha.

      That reminds me, I got it in my Humble monthly sub and haven't even looked at it too closely. Last I looked it was suffering 'early access'ish' issues. Worth the install yet, or hang on til updated further?

        I've been sitting on it for a long time @transientmind until it hit the January Sale. Playing it on PS4 and it's scratching that survival itch I've been chasing for a while. Haven't done the story mode yet as I've heard it's not great but the survival has been fun so far.

    The original Pokemon had dark caves, unless you grabbed HM05. What a game.

    I remember that Dark Souls 2 was meant to have a similar experience with areas so dark that you’d have to take a torch with you replacing your shield. Great idea that never saw fruition as while the areas are still in the game, the lighting system was scrapped.

    You can't see your eyelids when you close your eyes.Qué?

    Is Origins the same on console? I've thoroughly explored the pyramids and can't recall seeing any pitch-black tombs. They would be dark, but I'm sure there was still just enough light to find your way around.

      Na mate u had brightness up to high then. I can’t see squat in a cave or tomb with out my torch

    Damn, was anyone else hoping this article was about "dark" in terms of dark themes? haha.

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