The first official day of E3 just wrapped up and it’s been a wild ride so far. There were lots of titles revealed that we didn’t expect (e.g. Metroid 4) and we also got to see more about the games that we’ve been waiting for a very long time, it would seem (e.g. Knack II); not necessarily mutually exclusive categories, of course. What we’ve seen so far is great, but it’s also kind of familiar.

It isn’t often, however, that E3 immediately gives us a mystery. As part of my interactions today, I talked with a senior Ubisoft official, who happens to be related in some way to a close friend of my family. This information is such that I can’t name any names, mind you. I’m not even sure I should be writing this before I have it figured out myself. But my Egyptian isn’t quite what it used to be, in my previous life as a Tom Cruise mummy.

Basically, the information I was told boils down to this: Somewhere, in this picture, is a secret message for those able to decode it.

This an image from the E3 demo of Assassin’s Creed Origins, Ubisoft’s next game in the Assassin’s Creed series. It’s a great game, with plenty of new features to get you excited, but it also apparently contains some sort of Sombra-ARG-esque decryption.

Of course, when I talk about secret messages, I’m referring to the Egyptian hieroglyphics, most likely. I was pointed towards this image in particular, so if anything is to be found, it’s likely to be found here. For the past two to three hours, I’ve been poring over any information I can find online of the cryptic ancient-Egyptian writing system, and I’ve made some progress.

For one, I’ve learned that the signs themselves do seem to be consistent with legitimate Egyptian hieroglyphics. All of the symbols in this screenshot would seem to be actual hieroglyphs (you can check my work here, using my original source material) and they’re arranged in a way that seems to be consistent with their method of reading.

I’ve also learned that there seems to be a repeated sequence.

From the highlighted sections, we can see that the lines of vulture/double-reed/loaf through lion/wave seem to be repeated. This, in turn, means one of three things:

  1. The secret message is short and is repeated so that we might better see it.
  2. The secret message uses a repetitive structure to say different things. (e.g. “The hero will be strong” and “The hero will save us all”.)
  3. The secret message isn’t a secret message at all and this repetition is a sign of Ubisoft’s direction to only take on the mere aesthetic of the language.

Given my interactions with the Ubisoft official and my own research thus far, I think the last option is also the least likely to be true. But until someone fully deciphers this text, we can’t know as to its veracity. Personally, my mind is bubbling over with questions. What does it say? Is there truly a hidden message here? Does it reveal something secret about this game or the direction of the franchise? And why a secret message, of all things?

I’m going to continue to work on this throughout E3. I’m making progress, but it’s quite slow, and I’m basically taking a crash course on Egyptian as I try to identify each of the symbols in this picture. I’ll return with a better picture tomorrow, as well as, hopefully, with some more information. In the meantime, if anyone knows Egyptian, or makes any breakthrough, hit me up. With luck, we’ll be able to solve this self-styled “mystery of the sphinx” soon enough; and hopefully it turns out to be something!

If you make any breakthroughs, don’t hesitate to contact me: joe.molohon@gmail.com.

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