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From the bleeding effect, Desmond gains some of the Assassin skills of his predecessors at the cost of living with multiple sets of memories and personalities in his mind.
Within the Animus, Desmond explores the memories of a number of Assassins, including Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, an initially disgraced Assassin working to redeem himself during the Third Crusade; Ezio Auditore da Firenze, an Assassin in Italy during the late 15th and early 16th centuries of the Italian Renaissance, and Ratonhnhaké:ton, otherwise known as Connor, a half-Mohawk, half-British Assassin during the American Revolution.
Abstergo secretly created the "Animus", a device that allows its users to "re-live" and experience the memories of their genetic ancestors within their bloodline through a virtual simulation.
Overexposure to the animus causes the "bleeding effect", which results in giving the user skills and abilities of his ancestors, but is also dangerous for the user as it can damage their mind, causing symptoms such as dementia, insanity, dissociative identity disorder or brain damage.
Many spin-off games have been made for Nintendo DS, Play Station Portable, Play Station Vita, i OS, HP web OS, Android, Nokia Symbian and Windows Phone platforms.
The handheld versions are developed by Gameloft and Gryptonite Studios, with additional development by Ubisoft Montreal.
The series features historical fiction mixed with real-world historical events and figures.
Furthermore, the player cannot explore outside areas that the assassin has not experienced yet.
There are also abnormalities within the Animus from previous users of the device.
The series has been well received by critics, and has sold over 100 million copies as of September 2016, becoming Ubisoft's best selling franchise and one of the highest selling video game franchises of all time.
The video game series has been expanded into a film, comics and novels; all of which take place within the same continuity as the main video games series.