The Birth of Collecting: The Osiris Archetype In Games
October 14, 2009 Page 4 of 4
Another common variation on the Osiris archetype is the twin mission kind. This variant places both the hero and villain on conflicting quests, which typically cross one another at the culmination of the narrative.
Square's Kingdom Hearts is the quintessential example of the twin mission type. Building on the traditions of Secret of Mana, Kingdom Hearts places a lad named Sora in Isis's shoes as he sets out to seal the scattered Keyholes and thereby prevent darkness from entering their worlds. Meanwhile, Ansem, the game's Set type, is on a collection quest of his own, kidnapping the seven Princesses of Heart in order to use the collective power of their Hearts to open the door to Kingdom Hearts, which will unleash darkness unto all worlds.
This is interesting not only due to the emergence of the Osirian theme in which forces of good are used for evil, but also because the villain's collection quest more closely resembles the collection of Osiris's body than the hero's does. The Princesses of Heart are required to congregate in order to resurrect the power that unlocks the door to Kingdom Hearts, just as the pieces of Osiris's body must be recombined in order for him to beresurrected.
Sora's quest is more structural. He simply seals each Keyhole, leading him to his confrontation with Ansem when their quests cross at the climax of the game. Ansem successfully unites the Princesses of Heart so that he may open the door to Kingdom Hearts. At the same time, Sora must seal the final Keyhole, locking the door to Kingdom Hearts, in order to prevent darkness from consuming the world. These two paths set the hero and villain on a collision course and result in the final struggle of good and evil.
Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed follows a similar twin mission structure. Assassin's Creed's narrative features parallel plotlines, and contrary collection quests can be found within them. One of the twin quests takes place in the Holy Land during the Third Crusade, where the assassin Altaïr is tasked with enacting nine assassinations in order to regain standing in his clan.
Each assassination lends him insight into the true nature of his mission, and at last he learns that he has been deceived by his leader Al Mualim into carrying out a nefarious agenda. Altaïr then returns to confront Al Mualim.
In this plot line, Altaïr serves as Isis, collecting the pieces of Osiris -- the insights into the intrigues of the Crusade, which he learns of by enacting each assassination. Al Mualim plays a near flawless role as Set, sending Altaïr about his quest in a scheme for power.
A concurrent quest unfolds in the laboratories of Abstergo Industries, a modern incarnation of a secret society seeking to shroud humanity in illusion. The organization has imprisoned Desmond Miles so that scientists can scan Desmond's mind for memories of his ancestor Altaïr.
In specific, the scientists seek a memory involving a Piece of Eden, an artifact Altaïr took from Al Mualim after he killed him. This artifact contains the power to create illusion, and Abstergo intends to use it to create the illusion of peace -- therefore putting an end to world conflict. This dual plotline presents the scientists of Abstergo as Isis, collecting pieces of Desmond's hereditary memories, which are the scattered pieces of Osiris, in order to put an end to world conflict -- which can be personified as Set.
These parallel plot lines overlap at the Piece of Eden. Altaïr defeats Al Mualim, preventing him from using the Piece of Eden to cast an illusion of peace upon the world. In the future, the scientists of Abstergo use this very memory to help locate a Piece of Eden in hopes of casting that illusion of peace upon the world.
But the comparisons between Assassin's Creed and the Osiris archetype don't end there. Assassin's Creed possesses yet another overarching plot line which links it to its upcoming sequels and, at the same time, links it to the relics of mythology. See, the Piece of Eden is but one piece of many, and, hypothetically, Abstergo will discover a new piece in each consecutive sequel, effecting a collection quest across multiple games.
Just as Assassin's Creed's sequels will continue to replicate the Isis and Osiris archetype, entirely new entries in interactive entertainment will as well. Though the archetype will continue to be divided and mutate along the way, its core principles will remain, connecting whatever games experiences that exist in the future to the gameplay and narratives of games from the past.
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