With every new edition of Assassin’s Creed, the big question is always, where will the next one be? Locations have always been the hype for every new iteration of the famous video game. This time around, Ubisoft chose to take us back to Ancient Greece with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which at first sight isn’t the most obvious choice. It is set during the peloponnesian wars, hundreds of years before Origins, it’s a time before Assassin’s really existed. So what does Ancient Greece has to offer to a game previously known for its open-world design, stealth assassinations and parkour movement?
Perhaps Odyssey is of the greatest examples of Assassin’s Creed transformation from the open-world map-cleaner video game, into a deep action role-playing game. With games such as Origins and Odyssey, it seems that mythical artifacts and god-like powers are an essential part of the game. Instead of jumping off the top of the Eiffel tower in Unity, or Big Ben in Syndicate, you can now fight Medusa, the Greek monster with snakes for hair. This transformation began with Origins, with its afterlife god-like bosses, and is certainly continuing with Odyssey. Additionally, the world in Odyssey is expansive, something that might rival Witcher III in its sheer size, very likely to exceed 100 hours of playtime.
The protagonist of the game (Kassandra or Alexios) is a mercenary descendant of Leonidas, who I’m sure we all remember from the movie The 300. The game is set 50 years after the The Battle of Thermopylae, more famously known as the battle of the 300. Athens and Sparta are at war, and with battles raging between the two sides, it’s down to you to kill the bad guys and ultimately decide which way the tides turn. But this time around, you will have powers that exceed parkour and combat skills.
Odyssey has three main story lines centering around the protagonist’s family. The game opens with you living a life on a forgotten island in the Aegean sea, after having been washed ashore losing a Spartan home. The character is great, complex and believable.
As you can see, the story is pretty standard. The protagonist changing the course of history with a series of behind the scenes assassinations. But what makes it interesting is that you have some control over the main character. Despite having a distinct personality, you can make decision on her behalf that somewhat shape who she is. These situations where you have to make tough decisions and hard choices on behalf of Kassandra or Alexios, add an emotional weight to the game that can help the player get more invested, thus turning boring missions into emotionally charged moments. Not only does it help you sympathize with the protagonist, but it also puts you into difficult situations where you have to decide what’s morally right or wrong.
Outside of that, there’s a lot going for Odyssey. The sea and naval combat that we first saw in Black Flag returns, and there’s a lot of loot and skill focused combat that we saw in Origins. There’s a lot of time to be spent between menus upgrading skills, gear and abilities. There is also a secret society in the game, which once you discover, you might wanna spend some time hunting its shadowy members.
As with every Assassin’s Creed game ever, there’s a lot of repetition, but it doesn’t get boring for the most part. There’s still of course the thrill of figuring out how to kill a target surrounded by guards from every side, and the depth of the world and its expansiveness helps make this better. Even the wildlife is very wild in this game, as you’ll find yourself being attacked by lions, bears and boars quite often.
But despite having all this to its favor, Odyssey doesn’t feel like a pure Assassin’s Creed experience. There’s no wearing a hood, or that much parkour considering that you’ll be spending quite some time on a horseback. There was something about the distinct experience of Assassin’s that was missing. That is of course understandable considering that the game is set hundreds of years before Assassin’s were created.
All in all, the game is fantastic and is definitely worthwhile. The only issue is that it doesn’t feel consistent with what we’re used to when we hear the name Assassin’s Creed.