Conan just showed off stealth skills that would fit into an Assassin’s Creed game, although he’s missing one essential skill possessed by Ezio Auditore.
Warning: contains spoilers for Conan the Barbarian #16!
Conan the Barbarian is a warrior supreme – someone whose skills in combat are truly legendary, and who never hesitates to cut down an enemy who stands in his way. In Conan the Barbarian #16 – by Jim Zub, Roge Antonio, Israel Silva, and VC’s Travis Lanham – fans are shown that Conan’s skills also extend to the type of sneaking you’d expect to see in an Assassin’s Creed game… minus one essential skill.
Previously, the Cimmerian found himself battling a bloodthirsty mob who are all worshipers of a god of death named Challi-Mai. After winning a deadly contest called the Crucible in the city of Garchall, Conan is disgusted by the joy the city’s residents found in the contest’s bloodshed, so he destroyed a statue of Challi-Mai, for whom the Crucible is dedicated. The citizens of Garchall were none too pleased with the Barbarian’s desecration of their idol, and after Conan fought off many of the attackers, he wound up in their kingdom’s dungeon. Upon his inevitable escape, Conan expertly sneaks through the castle, silently killing the Chief Magistrate’s guards in an attempt to break free.
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The issue’s narration makes a point of noting how impressive Conan’s stealth is, saying, “Those who have not fought Cimmerians before assume they are large and loud, and they certainly can be at times. But these broad-shouldered Northlanders are also prodigious hunters. From a young age, Conan was taught to step lightly through thickets of trees and climb wind-scarred cliffs without stirring a stone.” Conan’s stealth would put Assassin’s Creed protagonists like Altair and Ezio Auditore to the test, but it’s a moment these assassins would have no trouble navigating that forces Conan to start hacking his enemies to pieces instead. Conan makes his way past some guards and into an unknown room, only to discover it’s packed with courtesans who are startled by his presence. The narration notes that, “There are SOME environments even [Cimmerians] cannot hide in,” just as a guard barges in, forcing Conan to choose sword over stealth.
So, where did Conan go wrong? In Assassin’s Creed, the playable character would have been able to use the “blend” ability, which allows assassins to merge with groups of courtesans, hiding them from patrolling guards. Unfortunately, this moment makes the difference between an assassin and a barbarian particularly clear, and the comic makes a joke of how ludicrous it is to expect Conan to be able to hide from the guards in this situation.
Conan would assuredly excel at nearly every aspect of Assassin’s Creed if his real life skills were reflected in his gameplay, but Conan the Barbarian #16 shows fans that he still needs to work on his blending technique. At least Conan has the assassinating part down to a science, even if he does prefer a huge battleaxe to a blade up the sleeve.
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