Russell Lees, creator of cult horror The Dark Eye and a long-term veteran at Ubisoft studios, has passed away. A Tweet by Erik Loyers and another tweet by Darby McDevitt last night confirmed his death.
Saddened for the passing of interactive storyteller and playwright Russell Lees. I first met Russ on The Dark Eye, a crazy-wonderful CD-ROM project mixing Poe with an original framing story, animated puppets and a reading from William Burroughs that Russ recorded himself. RIP. pic.twitter.com/AUbT173rTt
— Erik Loyer (@opertoon) January 7, 2022
At Ubisoft, Russell Lees worked on the Assassin Creed series. His works in Ubisoft include several story arcs he wrote for Assassin Creed Valhalla. Lees also played a role in Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed 3. For Syndicate, he wrote the game’s Dreadful Crimes missions. For Unity, he wrote the Paris Stories and Murder Mysteries.
His other work for Ubisoft includes writing for Far Cry Series and Watch Dogs 2. He has worked the Longest for Ubisoft, 13 years in Montreal alone. Yet his carrier goes far back. He has played a significant role in Ubisoft games, but he is also famous for crafting a wonder that many will remember him for.
Lees influenced the world of horror games to a considerable extent. He wrote and directed a game many consider the most disturbing horror game ever created. Called “The Dark Eye“, A point-and-click adventure released in 1995. It’s a memorable classic that some say started the trend of horror games on PC.
When the game first came out, It didn’t receive much attention from critics or consumers. Jeffrey Adams of Gamespot gave an assorted review, criticizing the game’s lack of explanation for gameplay mechanics or goals, but still regard it as “one of the most original computer games ever created.” Contrariwise, Patrick Arellano of Blasting News claimed it as one of the best obscure horror games of all time.
Whether the love for the game is nostalgic or it truly is as scary as people say, We all can agree that this helped in shaping the horror video games for PC.
Lees was also a successful playwright and stage director outside the realm of games. Known as an intelligent writer. His writing has been praised by many of his workmates. Many express their sadness over the talent that has left the world.
He also influenced people that worked around him, Far Cry 6 narrative director Navid Khavari expressed Lees as “an absolute pleasure to work with” and “so kind, generous, and an incredibly sharp writer”. While Darby McDevitt gave these remarks, “We lost a dear friend and brilliant colleague this week”.
He was such an absolute pleasure to work with briefly on AC Unity. Even working between two cities, we had a great time working on the mysteries and he was always so kind, generous, and an incredibly sharp writer. Can’t believe he’s gone.
— Navid Khavari (@Navface) January 7, 2022
Giles Armstrong, a newcomer at Ubisoft, described him as, “He was always patient, kind and happy to explain things to me. No question was too small, too unimportant. He was Good People.”
Recently, Antoine Henry – Lead Game Designer for Skull and Bones – departed from Ubisoft. Now, with the passing of Russell Lees, the company has lost two unique talents within days.
On the whole, we will look back on many of his achievements. Many of his colleagues will miss him as a dear friend. Such a person is never replaced, but it’s his legacy, his writing, that will keep him alive in our hearts. The shards of memory he left behind will always echo through the games he worked on.
We will remember him for shaping the horror genre for games and for making the Ubisoft games nostalgic for us. Rest in Peace, Russell Lees!