Earlier this year game developer Ubisoft announced a secret project which was only just recently revealed to be Assassin’s Creed Ascendance, an animated short film based on their incredibly popular videogame series. Coming out of Ubisoft’s new Ubi Workshop division (which has also recently launched a comic book series as well), it was created to fill the gap between Assassin’s Creed 2 and the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood.

While it’s a brand new story, it will be very familiar for anyone who’s played the game. In it, you see Ezio (the Renaissance-era Italian star of both games) talking discretely to a man about his next assassination target, which will be his biggest one yet. After taking out the pope himself in the last game in what might be the most utterly ridiculous end boss ever, Ezio now has bigger problems. Yes, even bigger than a cackling evil pope that engages you in fisticuffs and shoots force lightning from his staff.

See, the evil Borgia family has taken over the papal throne and as Ezio talks with his contact he learns about how the leader of the family- Ceasare Borgia- rose to power, and what his plans for his beloved Italy are. He left quite a few corpses in his wake of course, and Ezio has even more of a reason to tackle him by the end of the story. We’re left off with a promise that will only be carried out in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood.

The style of the film is quite unique. The animators took the backgrounds from the game and painted right on top of them, creating some truly beautiful images that fit in well with the period of the game. The animation leaves a little bit to be desired though- it has the kind of talking and movement that’s achieved by manipulating a static image rather than using separate frames. But the painting look works perfectly for the feel of the game, and there’s even a bit of stylized (and bloody) action here.

But the story feels like a very minor part of the larger tale, one that didn’t necessarily need to be singled out this way. Obviously Ezio isn’t going to kill the main bad guy of the next game, but they certainly could have included some of this backstory in the actual game.

They’re charging for the eight minute short (although it does come with a behind the scenes featurette of equal length) which has taken people by surprise. Just last year Ubisoft released a 35 minute live action film called Assassin’s Creed Lineage which was completely free. But fans of the series who want to see a uniquely animated take on some familiar material will certainly get their two buck’s worth.

Assassin’s Creed Ascendance is now available for iTunes, Zune Marketplace and PSN.