Paris in spring. There’s this unwritten rule that it is one of those city trips you just have to do. So in 2019 I got on a train to spend a long weekend in the French capital, drink a lot of wine and of course see the sights from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre. However, I was particularly looking forward to Notre-Dame: here I was allowed to perform with the school choir as a child, leaving behind nothing but a rather disturbed memory of having mainly served as a photo motif for older tourists in my choir robe. This time it was finally me who was the tourist, who could see the Gothic building with its famous chimera statues and the impressive altars and interior.

Just a few weeks later, my cell phone vibrated. Breaking News: Fire in Notre-Dame. I spent the next few hours in front of the television just as the rest of the world and watched as parts of this world heritage were destroyed by the flames.

But Notre-Dame is not lost.

Assassin’s Creed Unity was already making headlines in the coming days. To represent the medieval Paris in the game, the developers at Ubisoft had build an in-depth model of Notre-Dame, for which the cathedral was measured in every detail. This data was now offered to be used for reconstruction. I didn’t want to wait that long. Assassin’s Creed Unity has been in my collection for a long time, but I had never really played it. But now I had the opportunity to inspect this place, even more precisely than what was possible in Paris itself. I was able to climb up the facades with my ingame character, sit next to the gargoyles, inspect the structure of the nave with its mighty side struts – and get better understanding how this structure could shape the architecture of an era among the virtual pedestrians. And although I had visited Notre-Dame twice – I only really saw it when it was already in ruins.

Assassin’s Creed Unity was released in 2014 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. While many fans were captivated by the multi-faceted gameplay as an assassin, I was mostly impressed by the detailed portrayal of Paris at the time of the French Revolution.

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