A new virtual reality game is placing players in the roles of firefighters on the scene of the 2019 blaze that devastated Notre Dame de Paris. Called Save Notre-Dame on Fire, this new title offers a moment-to-moment recreation of the Notre Dame fire based on real data and research. Players must extinguish fires and dodge falling debris, all the while rushing to save Notre Dame’s collection of Holy Relics.
Save Notre-Dame on Fire was released on June 22 by the French game development company Ubisoft. Best known for the Assassin’s Creed franchise, for years Ubisoft has meticulously recreated historical cities, including Jerusalem, Florence, London, and Athens, but in 2014 Assassin’s Creed Unity set its sights on Paris, France.
Ubisoft went above and beyond when recreating their hometown, producing a digital model of Notre Dame de Paris that even replicated the facade brick-for-brick in a near 1-to-1 model. This ambitious model of the iconic French cathedral took two years to produce and was so accurate that some believed that it could help experts reconstruct the building after the fire.
For the week after the fire, on April 15, 2019, Ubisoft offered the game as a free download so players could visit Notre Dame virtually. Around the same time, Ubisoft made a donation of $565,000 to the reconstruction effort.
Save Notre-Dame on Fire
Now Ubisoft has utilized their old resources to help create Save Notre-Dame on Fire. According to Design Boom, the game is “a multiplayer VR escape room experience” that is considered “edu-tainment,” a mix of educational and entertaining.
The educational aspects of the game come in the form of a faithful remodeling of Notre Dame’s historically significant architecture, which the developers say shows the need for reconstruction and preservation. The entertainment comes in the gameplay, which has players solve puzzles, navigate through tight spaces, and work as a team to quell the flames and save the relics.
A Ubisoft spokesperson said of the game:
“Save Notre-Dame on Fire was created with input from firefighters who were deployed to the cathedral. During the sessions – which are meant to be played in an hour or less – players work together to keep the flames at bay, solve puzzles to find the Crown of Thorns, escape the cathedral after the collapse of its spire, and put out the fire in its bell tower.”
A report from Archinect notes that Save Notre-Dame on Fire comes in tandem with a new movie, Notre Dame on Fire, that recounts the heroic actions of firefighters in their efforts during the real Notre Dame fire. Co-written and directed by esteemed French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud, who extensively researched the Notre Dame fire, this movie gives a moment-by-moment look at all the events of April 15, 2019.
While gamers have been saving Notre Dame since June 22, the real-life construction effort has been tirelessly working to save the real Notre Dame for the last three years. According to Friends of Notre Dame de Paris, there were two major projects completed by the end of 2021: All of the burned scaffolding was removed and the Grand Organ has been completely disassembled for cleaning and repair.
Now The Past reports that all of the stained glass windows of the cathedral have been restored. While none of the windows was destroyed in the fire, there was a lot of smoke damage that required the panes to be removed for restoration. The windows are expected to be reinstalled well before the projected reopening date in 2024.