Assassin’s Creedy Odyssey: Review

From the moment you zoom out of the map screen of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to reveal just how vast its gameworld is, littered with numerous islands of differing sizes throughout the ocean, it becomes clear just how big of an adventure you’re in for. This adventure is so big in fact that after playing through only the first 20 hours or so, it feels like we’ve only just scratched the surface of what this epic odyssey has to offer – and we’ve loved every second of it.

After an initial story beat that kicks things off in style, the first major choice you’ll need to make is whether to play as Alexios of Kassandra. The outcome of this choice is largely the same in terms of the journey you’re about to experience, but we’d recommend (like so many others have by now) that you choose Kassandra. Melissanthi Mahut, who voices Kassandra, does an incredible job of delivering subtle nuances in her performance that gives Kassandra a colourful personality that not only makes for some entertaining, and often hilarious interactions, but it also allows us to get more invested with the personal journey she’s going through. This is in contrast to Michael Antonakos’s performance as Alexios, which, though by no means bad, is gruffer and simply lacks Kassandra’s added flair.

Choosing your hero may be the first choice you make, but it’s far from the last during your time in Ancient Greece. Taking the RPG elements that were introduced in Origins one step further, Odyssey is the first game to introduce dialogue options and branching narratives into its already riveting story of intrigue and mystery that now allows us to interact with historical characters and be the type of hero we want to be, something that we’ve been longing for years. Throughout our time with the game, we’ve already made huge decisions dictating whether or not some people should live or die as well as many other seemingly smaller choices like whether to lie, flirt, or invite others to join us on our adventure. Other times, we were asked to compete objectives as discretely as possible only to have been spotted by a guard and for someone to end up in an unpleasant situation later. At the time of writing, it’s unclear just how big of an impact some of these decisions will have on the grand scheme of the narrative, but, right now, we’re relishing the new responsibility of decision making that’s been given to us in paving out our own adventure.

And how you choose to carve out your adventure is also entirely up to you. Like Origins, the map is littered with question mark icons that entice you to seek out what’s there; caves, bandit camps, tombs, forts, and many other interesting locations all have something there that makes exploration worthwhile – and when the game looks this good, you need no other reason to explore it. Likewise, there are plenty of side objectives to preoccupy yourself with when you’re not chasing down the next story mission that are all just as in-depth as the main campaign. Much like we seen in Origins, each side quest offers its own self-contained narrative that can unfold in surprising ways, and now that we have the opportunity to decide the outcome of events, these experiences are now even more engaging.

You can also pick up contracts and bounties on message boards found throughout the world, but unlike the main side quests, these contracts are usually no more than the bread and butter Assassin’s Creed objectives of “go here and fetch this” and “kill this person”. If you’re in desperate need for some extra coin or experience points, these missions are a quick and easy way to do so, but we’d recommend ignoring them completely in favour of the more worthwhile content. Besides, as long as you keep an eye on different quests and take some time to see what’s out there, you’ll never fall short of recommended level requirements or be short on finances.

Outside of the side quests, the main campaign has (so far) been wholly captivating as you gradually pull at a thread connecting to your hero’s past that uncovers the beginnings of a much deeper mystery relating to their bloodline, a mysterious cult, and the history of a family heirloom. Mission themselves are full of variety and will see you raiding camps, fighting bosses, and going undercover to investigate areas, with each new chapter of your journey taking you deeper into Greece and the Peloponnesian war that rages on between Sparta and Athens. While certain missions will have you fighting for a certain side, you’re also free to help which ever faction you like in the game’s Conquest mechanic that ultimately sees you weaken a force through destroying supplies and eliminating generals before engaging in a 150 vs 150 men battle.

In terms of gameplay, Odyssey also gives you complete freedom in how you approach situations. The three main skill trees of Assassin, Warrior, and Hunter abilities let you pick and chose a selection of skills to equip to face buttons to help you in your quest. Initially with only the choice of four ranged abilities in addition to four others to be shared with stealth and fighting, selecting which skills to have at any one time can be a bit of a guessing game; having too many warrior abilities are of little use when attempting to silently whittle down the numbers of a fort is all but useless and vice versa. Thankfully though you eventually unlock additional wheels that enable you to select skills appropriate for possible scenarios you can switch with the press of a button. We would also recommend that you take the silent approach first to whittle down the numbers of heavily guarded locations because the sloppy combat system is all but hopeless against large groups of enemies – at which point the lock on mechanic is completely useless. Likewise, getting your head around the somewhat unintuitive control scheme can take some time, but when you get there, you’ll be fighting like a true warrior.

As we mentioned in the introduction, we’ve only played the first 20 hours or so of the game (that includes completing side quests and general exploration), and yet we feel like we’re only beginning to uncover the secrets of the underlying mystery as we’re greeted with surprising twist after another. The modern day story also makes a return with players once again as Layla Hassan, which, at this point anyway, has been rather dull. We’re aware that this aspect of the series is divisive amongst fans, and, while we have been a fan of the interweaving narrative the modern day story has injected into the series to date, the motivation for Layla’s next chapter just doesn’t seem to be there. Fans may also be somewhat disappointed that it doesn’t pick up after the cliff hanger in Origins, instead taking place many months after. We remain hopeful that this part of the game will gather momentum and justify its inclusion, but we just don’t see it right now.

There’s no question that Odyssey is a hugely ambitious game, in both its size and narrative. This also marks the full transformation of the series into a full-blown RPG – or at least the closest its come to being one. Despite the drastic shift in the Assassin’s Creed formula, Odyssey is still distinctly an Assassin’s Creed game with regards to both thematic content and approach to gameplay (and don’t say “It’s not an Assassin’s Creed game because you don’t play as an Assassin. Edward from Black Flag wasn’t an Assassin until the ending of the game, and also not being a Creed-bound Assassin is relevant in shaping he moral choices posed by the game). Despite our relatively short time with the game, we are fully confident in making the claim that Odyssey isn’t just an Assassin’s Creed game, but, through combining various aspects of what made previous entries memorable into one cohesive whole, Odyssey is shaping up to be one of, if not the, best game in the series.

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