Honestly, I was quite surprised to see another Assassin’s Creed game so quickly at E3 2018. With Assassin’s Creed: Origins debuting the year prior, I was hesitant and did not know what to expect from Ubisoft with this new title. However, my worries were quickly silenced when I had the chance to demo the game. What I got was an epicly fun Assassins game that reinvigorated my love of the franchise.
In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, you assume the role of EITHER Alexios or Kassandra, both descendants of the great Spartan King Leonidas. With your grandfather’s spear in your hand and Ikaros at your side, you must embark on your OWN Odyssey to discover who you really are, and what secrets lie within the world around you.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey builds off of the revised mechanics introduced in Assassins Creed Origins. The fighting is a lot more open, and no longer locked into stealth-essential abilities. This creates fluid and seamless gameplay. As the player, you have access to an arsenal of different weapons, ranging from short blades to giant staffs. Additionally, in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, you can unlock a variety of abilities as you level up. Some of these are skill perks, and others are actual moves you can integrate by using your “Adrenaline Bar”. These 4-button ability menus reminded me a lot of one of my favorite RPGs, Bioware’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. When testing the game at E3 2018, the developer I was with stated how this game was “more of an RPG” than the previous titles. And this idea remains apparent in the game’s mechanics.
Mercenaries & Romances
Along with the usual Assassin’s Creed activities (Real-Eagle Eagle Vision returns through your pet and partner Ikaros, along with sailing, swimming, and side-quests), two new gameplay mechanics are introduced: Mercenaries and Romances. As you assassinate your way through the Peloponnesian War, at some point you’re bound to piss off either the Athenians OR the Spartans. At this moment, they will hire a mercenary to come after you. You can either 1) Avoid the mercenary as they stalk you across the map 2) Pay off your bounty, or 3) Kill the mercenary. These mercenaries roam freely throughout the game, and you might pass by one that is significantly more powerful than you. Likewise, you can seek out mercenaries on your own AND battle them in the Arena. So if you want to spend some time challenging and battling many formidable opponents across Ancient Greece, now you can!
The other new mechanic introduced is Romances. Yes, you did read that correctly. In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, you have the chance to romance your way across the Mediterranean. Sadly, most of these romances are simple one-time flings. There was one adorable Healer that I wanted to continue a relationship with. Alas, once I returned to him, he only gave me the same “good to see you” responses. But each romance is absolutely unique, which adds a delightfully fun element to the game. I already adore Melissanthi Mahut‘s performance as Kassandra, and her romance option deliveries are on-point. The introduction of romances is another way Assassin’s Creed Odyssey embraces aspects of the RPG genre.
The only aspects that are a bit lack-luster in this title are the micro-transactions & the lack of stealth objectives. In order to upgrade your favorite gear, you need to collect A LOT of raw materials. You can spend hours doing so, or Ubisoft provides you with purchasable bundles of coin and materials in the Ubisoft Store. I’m not a huge fan of “if you purchase this pack-it makes it easier”. In an Action-Adventure game, I want all of the things I need to be in-game. And not to have my gameplay deterred by collecting simply materials. Similarly, I do miss the stealth objectives that the previous games had. In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the only “Location Objectives” that appear are “Loot Treasure, Burn War Materials, Killy Polemarch, etc”. Tasks that ensure the capturing of a location, every time. While I always try and stealth my way around, I wish there was some achievement that challenged me to do so, just like the good old days.
This game is absolutely gorgeous. From the beautiful blues of the Mediterranean Sea to the vibrant pinks of Cyprus’ Bougainvillea trees, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey remains one of the most stunning games I’ve played this year. Add in the Day & Night cycles, and you get the chance to catch incredible sun-rises over the Parthenon. Each location has it’s own unique look and feel, which makes exploring that much more fun. Likewise, the character models look great and are especially detailed. When Kassandra is delivering a sarcastic remark, you don’t just hear it in her voice, but you see it in her facial gestures, movement, and body. This motion capture in this game is executed flawlessly. There are no uncomfortable uncanny-valley moments. Each character has their own look and expressions that feel natural and of the world.
The story of this game is what really blew me away. The story of Kassandra/Alexios is intriguing and compelling. There were many points in the game I was forgoing my usual side-quest balance in order to discover more of the story. With so many titles in the series, I can imagine it’s tricky finding new ways to explore the Templar-Assassins rivalry. However, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey does a tremendous job of balancing the lore and introducing new elements that make this rivalry even more fascinating.
Another great narrative element of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is that YOU are embarking on your OWN Odyssey. The event that catapults your character onto their journey IS a battle with a thug named “The Cyclops” who’s been terrorizing you and the other citizens of Kelphalonia. There are many elements of Homer’s The Odyssey that are intertwined into the narrative like this. Another reference is your first Assassin’s Cloak: Penelope’s Shroud, taken from Odysseus’ home. If you are a fan of Greek History and Mythology like me, this game is sure to delight you. The writing team behind this game did a truly tremendous job.
For me, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is arguably my top game of the year. The story is compelling, the voice-acting is solid, the setting is gorgeous, the gameplay is fun and challenging, and the world is immersive with something new around every corner. I have absolutely LOVED pouring hours into this game. As a long-time fan of the Assassin’s Creed series, I fell off the gameplay wagon after Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. And while Assassin’s Creed Syndicate & Assassin’s Creed Origins interested me, this is the Assassin’s Creed title that has captured my heart. If you’re a new fan or a veteran of the series, I cannot recommend Assassin’s Creed Odyssey enough.
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