Assassin’s Creed is a neverending series of mysteries and puzzles, the most enduring of which is the Isu language. While it was first introduced in 2009’s Assassin’s Creed II, it wasn’t until last year’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla provided substantial clues that fans were finally able to crack the dead tongue.
In a video released on YouTube earlier today, the folks at fansite Access The Animus detail the steps they took to unlock the complex language of the Isu, a race of god-like figures which, in Assassin’s Creed lore, predates human civilisation. But this was no simple substitution cipher; decoding the foundations of the Isu language was only made possible by Valhalla acting as a sort of Rosetta Stone through which meaning could be extrapolated.
Access The Animus was able to identify grammar cases, verb tenses, conjugations, and key rules for sentence construction by comparing several pieces of Isu text to English translations provided over the course of the Valhalla storyline. They were then able to apply what they learned to their main goal: translating several Isu markings on the game’s collector’s edition packaging.
The work is far from done, however. Valhalla makes it clear that the Isu were not as monolithic a civilisation as first thought, which accounts for key discrepancies between letters and sentence structure across different texts. As the Isu text looks much different in older Assassin’s Creed games, it’s still unclear if these specific findings can be applied across the entire series.
Access The Animus plans to go over further topics, like the Isu numeral system and a massive in-game document known as the Canterbury file, in a future video. It would probably be a stretch to say the language has been nailed down completely, but Valhalla narrative director Darby McDevitt has notably praised the achievement on Twitter. They’re definitely onto something!