Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Review

Sing to me of the Assassin, Muse

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” And after Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, this definitely isn’t a time for sleep.

Remember the difference between AC2 and Brotherhood? This is a similar kind of jump between Origins and Odyssey; finessed, perfected, and generally just a better experience. It’s Assassin’s Creed, Jim, but not as we know it.

“The blade itself incites to deeds of violence.”

Look, this is a game about stabbing lots of people. You’re a mercenary, fighting evil for your family. Aaaand that’s the plot. OK, story out of the way, let’s talk about gameplay. Oh my friends, the combat is GOOD. Assassination isn’t a OHKO anymore, as with Origins, but the hitbox based combat feels smoother, powerful, and so very frustrating when three mercenaries decide to dogpile on you just because you stole valuable war supplies and killed their governor.

As for targets to sneakily stab, there are options. You can destabilise governments, murder the cult that will become the Templars, kill some other mercenaries (either because they’re hunting you, or just because they have some sweet gear), and just generally have a blast. My personal favourite activity is walking along the walls of Athens, assassinating all the soldiers along the way. Good way to farm loot in the early game, as well as complete a few quests. Also, it’s just immensely fun, because I got about 14 archers deep before they even tried to stop me. Not a great security system, Athens. Might wanna look into that.

Combat feels glorious, and wonderfully challenging most of the time. I’m afraid of Nightmare mode right now, but once I start my replay you can bet I’m gonna go pure Assassin’s Souls on it.

 

“For a friend with an understanding heart is worth no less than a brother”

OK, in fairness the story and world building is great. I like avenge plots, and I like Ubisoft’s ‘show don’t tell’ approach. Not every problem needs to be stabbed in Odyssey, much like in real life. Much like in real life as well, however, a big ol’ stab to the face does tend to work.

Disclaimer: please do not stab anyone in the face.

Choosing your protagonist is a nice touch, allowing you to play as either the beautiful Kassandra or the beautiful Alexios. Yes they’re both beautiful, and deadly. I went with Alexios, a man’s man, a ladies’ man, and an eagle’s man. Alexios and Kassandra can chat with people to find out about objectives, and even solve some events without raising sword nor spear. Admittedly, most of my attempts to calm things down ended in bloodshed anyway, but hey, we tried.

Choice has impact too, with certain actions affecting the way the game plays out. There are multiple endings in AC Odyssey, although I’ve not experienced any (more on that later), ranging from good to bad to true, with all the little bits in between. If you have the strength to replay this one, there’s plenty to discover.

Speaking of replay, I don’t know when I’ll have time for that. I’m 45 hours into this game, and have not completed it. But here’s the thing; I’ve played 45 hours without completion, and I absolutely adore every minute. Unless it somehow takes a complete nose dive, this is an excellent game.

“By hook or by crook, this peril too shall be something that we remember”

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is, simply put, magnificent. But there is a single, jaw-droppingly obvious flaw, and it is exactly what you think it is; microtransactions.

Now, let me be clear. I don’t have a huge problem with microtransactions; at least, I don’t hate them as much as some others do. I do, however, have a problem with artificially damaging a game to make the in-game purchases seem more appealing. That, sadly, has happened here.

I bought the XP and Drachmae boost within my first 6 hours of play, and my enjoyment boosted with it. The grind, while not gone, was lessened to the point of feeling reasonable. I have to conclude that execs on high decided to make the game unreasonably grindy to make these more appealing.

It worked. Keeping fun to ransom worked.

I’ve debated for the last 40 hours of gameplay whether or not I should take this into account in my final score, and I’ve decided not to. Yes, it’s shitty. Yes, it should not have been done. But the game itself is glorious, and I adore it. I can’t in good conscience mark down a damn-near masterpiece for the a single bad idea, made above the dev’s heads.

Fight me, malakas.

 

“Few sons are like their fathers–most are worse, few better.”

Odyssey borrows heavily from earlier games in the Assassin’s Creed series. In particular, Black Flag’s naval strength is extremely evident when piloting the Adrestia, your ship (gloriously named for the goddess of righteous revolution), and in underwater segments. And of course Origins, the born-again AC, has laid the groundwork for much of this installment.

Admittedly, I love the Hellenistic setting, and have a long history with Greek mythology. From reading Roger Lancelyn Green’s ‘Tales of the Greek Heroes’ when I was nine, to briefly studying Classics in a summer course (NEEEEEERD), to an extended period as a Hellenic Polytheist (no, really), I’m pretty familiar with the territory. To me, respect for the subject matter is key when dealing with any religious context, even if its just flavour. The original God of War trilogy, for example, royally f*cked that up. But Odyssey nails it. The Assassin’s Creed teams have always been good about treating their material with care, but from meetings with Herodotus, the Pythia at Delphi, and others, you can see they put their money where their mouth is. Fair play, Ubisoft.

You don’t have to be able to quote Homer to love this thing. I just can, and do.

 

“I have seen worse sights than this.”

Look. I’m a massive Assassin’s Creed fan, and a huge Greek mythology buff. I am the direct target audience of this game. That’s why there’s so many ridiculous statues in my gaming room, and why Desmond’s tribal tattoo is emblazoned down my skinny Irish arm. But if you can change a series this much, have awful microtransactions, and I still love it? That’s a game worth playing. Whether I’m sailing, hunting, warring, or assassinating, I’ve had a ball.

It’s probably hyperbole to say that ACO is the best game in the series. After all, Assassin’s Creed 2 brought it into the mainstream, Black Flag gave us a phenomenal re-invigoration, and of course Origins last year mixed things up for the better.

None of this changes how amazing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is. Play it. Penelope can wait.

100%
An Olympic feat
  • Overall

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