Assassin’s Creed is one of the longest-running modern gaming series out there, and with a catalog spanning over ten games, you can be sure that some solid protagonists needed to be created in the process. In the first era of games, we had Desmond, who was an unassuming man yanked into the 1000s of years-long war between the templars and the assassins. When he met his untimely end, it was up to another to hold the torch. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag went the route of the nameless protagonist that didn’t really factor into the story much, but as the new mythology trilogy started, they would need another to take over. That new character was Layla Hassan.
Layla started her journey in Assassin’s Creed: Origins, discovering that she was a long-lost ancestor of Bayek of Siwa, and from there, she and her team get pulled into a wild story with all sorts of twists and turns.
Layla has been the one controlling the Animus for three games now, and with that comes a variety of different character traits and plot developments that have effectively turned her world on its head. Things start out pretty normal in Assassin’s Creed: Origins, but by the end of her journey in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, things get pretty weird. Let’s explore everything there is to know about Layla Hassan.
Who is Layla Hassan?
Layla is far from the innocent protagonist that Desmond Miles initially was; in fact, she was a member of Abstergo, which is essentially the modern-day Templar organization.
She joined the organization after dropping out of college after she was offered a job there and told what the Animus program was. Layla was a quick study, and soon, Abstergo was actually using her ideas to tweak the Animus itself. During this time, she was completely unaware of the activities of Abstergo. It’s also unclear if she had any idea of Desmond or who the Assassins even were at the time, as Abstergo is known for keeping its employees in the dark.
The one thing driving her to keep going with the company was access to the Animus. It’s the one thing that inspired her to join the company in the first place, but due to her unorthodox methods, she was never granted access to it.
She left to return to her home country of Egypt for a short time, and during that time, she took part in a revolution and helped people hack into devices to overcome nationwide censorship. She was part of changing the regime there, and after it was done, she returned to Abstergo once again.
Access To The Animus
Finally, on her return, she was granted a portable Animus. This still wasn’t enough for her, though, as she was granted very little access to what the Animus could truly do. She became an unruly employee, which eventually got her noticed by the powers above, the real templars.
During this time, she met her soon-to-be best friend, Deanna Geary, and the two started working on the Animus together, using strands of DNA not related to her own. This practice was strictly forbidden by Abstergo, but Layla still did it anyway. She would continue her off the book ways in 2017, where her story would truly begin.
Layla’s Story in Assassin’s Creed: Origins
The first time you take control of Layla is in 2017, following an expedition to find a historical artifact. She was sent by Abstergo with a small team to retrieve it, but in the process, she encounters the mummies of Bayek and Amunet, who were two of the original Assassins. Against orders, she uses the Animus given to her to access their past.
This marks her first venture into the past, and with it, her team starts to become increasingly concerned. Their concern is warranted, to say the least, as Abstergo sends a team to take them out for disobeying orders. Unfortunately, this is the first of several times in the story where Layla’s selfishness gets someone she cares about killed, as Deanna is killed for looking out for her in a nearby hotel.
Layla’s likeability isn’t all that high in the first part of her story, but what makes her interesting is that she’s human, and she makes mistakes, and those mistakes have some serious consequences.
During the attempt to eliminate her by the Abstergo team, Layla gains the abilities of Bayek through what is called the Bleeding Effect, which has her remember his techniques from being in the Animus for so long. She becomes a capable combatant herself here and takes out several of the Abstero hit squad.
Following the death of Deanna, Layla becomes trapped with the Animus as the cave she’s in becomes shrouded by a sandstorm, so her only option is to delve deeper into the past. It’s during this time that William Miles, the father of Desmond and the leader of the Assassins, finds her and offers her a job with them. Layla reluctantly says yes.
By the end of the events of Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Layla discovers that the Assassins are actually the good guys and, with that, joins them officially.
Layla doesn’t get a ton to do in the first Assassin’s Creed game of the new trilogy, but her introduction to the player is important as the seeds are planted here for her to get a much bigger role in the titles to come.
Layla’s Gameplay in Assassin’s Creed: Origins
Most of the time you control Layla, it will be walking around the caves where her team is set up, and you’ll have the option of interacting with them or not. You can also look up files here and discover more about her past with Abstergo and other cool easter eggs that link back to past events in the series.
As far as combat goes, you only get one section of that in the early goings when Layla uses the Bleeding Effect to channel Bayek’s combat abilities and take out the Abstergo hit squad. It’s a short burst, but a cool way to link the characters together, 1000s of years apart.
Layla’s Story in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Layla starts to go deeper into the Assassin’s Creed lore here after learning about Isu artifacts. The Isu were a technologically advanced race that technically came before Adam and Eve and was essentially the gods of this world. The artifacts held great power, and that’s partially what’s driven the conflict between the Assassins and the Templars for so many years.
The first artifact she goes after is called the Spear of Leonidas, and it was wielded by the Spartan Kassandra last. Layla finds it throughout the story of Odyssey, and not only that, she also discovers the city of Atlantis, and it’s the exact location through her adventures as Kassandra.
Upon the discovery of Atlantis, she amazingly meets Kassandra herself, who has been alive for ages through the Staff of Hermes. It’s here where Kassandra tells Layla that neither the Assassins nor the Templars can ever be allowed to defeat the other, or else the world would be destroyed. She also asks Layla to destroy the staff and all Isu artifacts, called Pieces of Eden, along with it. She passes the Staff to Layla and finally dies.
Things start to get very strange here as now the voice of Aletheia, one of the original Isu, starts resonating through the staff to Layla and warning her of people coming to a stop her from opening Atlantis.
Layla Loses Control
Through the DLC in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Layla’s story continues, but as it does, she becomes more and more corrupted by the Staff of Hermes. Even while she’s completing trials demanded by Aletheia to master the staff and prevent that exact thing from happening. Eventually, Layla loses control completely and ends up killing her teammate Victoria.
This is the second time Layla’s insistence on doing things her way gets a member of her team killed, and honestly, I kind of fell off the character completely here. She’s not exactly likable, to begin with, and her selfish attitude throughout the series to this point was just unpleasant, which is why I usually sped through her segments as fast as possible. The interesting things happening here with Atlantis are overshadowed by Layla acting like a petulant child, which was just odd to me, considering Kassandra decided to trust her with, you know, the entire fate of the world. You couldn’t do better, Kassandra? Really?
Layla’s Gameplay in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
You get to do a whole lot more in Odyssey than you did in Origins when it comes to controlling Layla. First, you get the whole exploration of Atlantis with her which is beyond thrilling, to begin with, but you also get a full-on boss fight with her against Otso Berg. She gets to use the Staff of Hermes here as a weapon. Still, the boss fight itself is pretty underwhelming, considering the thrilling combat you have access to in the main storyline as Kassandra or Alexios. This is the only boss fight Layla gets in the game, and her controls are identical to how Kassandra or Alexios play in the main game.
Layla’s Story in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
To say the least, Layla is on thin ice with the Assassins at this point following the events of Odyssey, and with that comes yet another reassignment. This time, it’s with Shaun Hastings and Rebecca Crane, who longtime fans may remember as being part of Desmond’s team before his untimely demise.
With a new team at hand, she finds the grave of the long-dead Viking named Eivor. She still has the Staff of Hermes at this point, as she has refused to destroy it despite the clear and blatant requests of the former Keeper of Memories, Kassandra. Safe to say that Layla will do what she wants, how she wants to do it at this point. Ugh. Anyway, she uses the DNA of the Viking grave to travel back into the past as Eivor.
During her experience in Eivor’s body, she discovers that Eivor is, in fact, the reincarnated version of Odin and that the Isu created a device that lets them upload their DNA to the human gene pool to ensure they return to life in the future.
Following the events in the main game, where Eivor and Sigurd find “Valhalla,” which is actually just a machine called the Yggdrasil that the Isu created as a supercomputer to house their DNA data. Layla enters the broken Valhalla simulation and ends up in The Grey. This is essentially a tech, data afterlife that the Isu created to exist in. Here, she runs into Basim of all people. From playing the main game, you know that Basim revealed himself to be Loki reincarnated at the end of the game, and for some reason, Layla doesn’t register this and listens to every word he says without any doubt.
Guess what? This turns out very badly for her! Yes, Basim does tell the truth that Layla needs to turn down the machine inside The Grey to prevent a world catastrophe from happening, but what he doesn’t tell her is that by doing it, she releases him into the real world once again while Layla essentially dies.
At this point, Layla has dropped the Staff of Hermes and is slowly dying from the radiation inside the cave where the Yggdrasil is stored. She comes to meet a being called “The Reader,” who is strangely voiced by Desmond and is told that she will die in the outside world in one minute, or she can stay here with him for all eternity, searching for a solution to stop another catastrophe from destroying the world. In perhaps the only act of selflessness in Layla’s entire journey, she decides to bind herself to The Grey and stay with Desmond.
It’s a fitting end for Layla, who, in my opinion, had a hell of a lot to atone for between getting Deanna killed and then murdering Victoria herself. Some could look at the act of not dying like them as being cowardice since she technically chose immortality over a normal human death, but binding yourself to an existence like that doesn’t seem like a ton of fun either, so I can’t fault her for feeling it was the right thing to do.
Layla’s Gameplay in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
For those hoping that we’d get an even further escalation of present-day gameplay from Layla following the events of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey will be pretty disappointed here, as gameplay is pretty much restricted to only wandering around a shack and interacting with your teammates as well as a computer to dig up more lost files. There is no real combat here, which was a bit disappointing, though not entirely missed by me. Her sections were always the most boring parts of this epic series, although I was entertained most by her sections in Odyssey.
Layla goes through quite the character journey throughout these three games. She starts out as an anxious Abstergo employee, desperate to get her ideas accepted and wanting to make a name for herself when her own ambitions get her and her team into big-time trouble. She’s rash and doesn’t think through things before acting. Her erratic behavior is what gets Abstergo to notice her in the worst way, and it’s also what gets Deanna killed.
She’s loyal to her allies, but she’s also dedicated to her own particular goals, which is why she has so many teams throughout the three games.
In Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Layla starts becoming incredibly aggressive and angry. The Bleeding Effect is to blame here mostly, but overall, she starts becoming more prone to outbursts, and you can tell your team is growing wary of your increasingly unstable behavior.
In Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Layla is completely depressed and has started smoking and taking pills. The Staff of Hermes is still trying to corrupt her despite being separated from it, and she often falls into small trances where she just stares at it throughout the game. By the game’s end, she finally lets go of the Staff of Hermes and sort of atones for her actions by becoming another Reader alongside Desmond. Whether this fully forgives her for her actions that’s up to you. In my eyes? She’s not fully redeemed, especially for getting Deanna killed. The Victoria murder wasn’t fully her fault due to the Staff of Hermes.
Equipment and Skills
Layla is a worker at Abstergo when her story begins, but she’s involved in the athletics department there, so it’s safe to assume she’s physically pretty capable as a person. Through her actions in the Animus, she acquires several skills such as freerunning, the classic leaps of faith that every Assassin has been trained to do, and also being an adequate Assassin too.
She has a makeshift blade that she uses as her hidden blade for the few times that she needs to fight and she also has the Staff of Hermes, which is a Piece of Eden of untold power. She doesn’t get a ton of equipment to play around with, but the stuff she does have access to is incredibly strong.
Tips and Tricks
Layla doesn’t really have anything resembling challenging gameplay when you control her. Still, it is pretty interesting, and I think you should take some time to explore the files of Abstergo to get some very interesting lore in the Assassin’s Creed universe. I missed this my first time around, and coming back to it; you discover a ton about the past of Abstergo and easter eggs from the Desmond games as well.
Question: Is Layla Hassan dead?
Answer: Yes and no. Her body is gone, but she remains in The Grey with The Reader for all of eternity to try and solve the catastrophe problem.
Question: Is Layla Hassan Kassandra’s Ancestor?
Answer: No, she merely accesses Kassandra and others’ DNA via the Animus.
Question: Is Layla Hassan related to Desmond Miles?
Answer: No, but she ends up with him in the end, with the both of them spending eternity in The Grey. Layla also is recruited by Desmond’s father into the Assassins.
Layla Hassan definitely isn’t the best protagonist I’ve played as, but she has a pretty fascinating journey with a fitting conclusion. While she’s not my favorite, she has some great plot machinations happening all around her, and she ends up making the story of the three games more cohesive because of it.
Looking for more interesting readings? Check out: