Review: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Title: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Developer: Ubisoft

Genre: Action Role-Playing, Stealth

My playtime: 127 hours

My rating: 8/10

Well, I’m currently sat around, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for Mr Amazon to deliver my copy of The Division 2. I cannot express how excited I am that it’s finally out, and how frustrated I am that it’s now almost evening and it’s still not here. Just my luck, Mr Amazon chooses today to deliver at 11.59 p.m. Anyway, I thought I’d do something constructive in the meantime and review another game I was very excited about: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

And I was right to be excited about this one. I cannot contain how thrilled I am that AC is heading in this direction. I know traditionally AC is an action-adventure franchise, and I’m not at all averse to action-adventures, but in my heart of hearts, I’m an RPG gal. Origins was a really elegant transition game, so that die hard fans weren’t shocked by a change in genre, but Odyssey is where the RPG potential of AC is really starting to bloom. And actually, this franchise is perfectly matched to this genre, as is evidenced in Odyssey. For the first time, I feel like I’m very much in control of my character. Being able to choose a female character is one of the highlights of this game for me. I played Evie as much as I could in Syndicate, but there were times in that game when you were forced to played Jacob, which I wasn’t too happy about. Committing wholly to Kassandra, however, felt like I could really own this character and hone my style with her, and be able to play as her throughout, with no annoying sidetracks into characters I’m not used to (ahem, Origins).

And then there’s the map, the sheer scale of this Greek world. It’s bloomin’ huge! I would often climb up to synchronization points just to spin the camera around and look at all the places on the horizon I could reach and explore. And actually, one of the good things about Odyssey is that there’s more motivation to go to each of these regions. Whereas in Origins, it was sometimes a slog to reach every question mark, in Odyssey, each region has a decent amount of diverse side quests (if not main quests), that make each region or island an interesting place to explore. There’s more motivation to do so. And they’ve really dug into Greek mythology for some of these places, which makes them even more fascinating and challenging.

One thing that I did not excel at was the decision-making. I’m terrible at decisions in real life, but for some reason, I have a real knack with choosing the “wrong” way in games. And these decisions are not straightforward. Most of the time, you’ll be lulled into a short-term decision that feels right, but the long-term consequences can be far-reaching and really quite bad. I made all those kinds of decisions. And then, of course, Sokrates pops up every now and then to judge you for all your bad choices and make you feel even worse. Top tip: whatever Sokrates asks you to do, do the option that seems bad at the time. To be fair, he’ll probably just judge you anyway. It also took me a while to get out of my AC head of trying to complete every single mission. I was quite shocked that a lot of the recurring missions you get from NPCs are to murder civilians without really gathering any evidence or differing points of view to see whether your victims actually deserve it. I felt really awful about doing that. And then it twigged: I didn’t have to! These missions aren’t obligatory, and you can just ignore them if they appear on noticeboards – if that’s your style. If not, murder away! Just be careful about the bounty system, as it takes ages for bounties to drop naturally (you can pay them off, but they do decrease with time, just a lot of it). But this is really the great and relieving thing about Odyssey: choice. I remember getting quite upset that completion in Origins meant having to kill war elephants, which I just did NOT want to do, because I love elephants, and in fact, never did. But in Odyssey, it’s all about what you want to do. The conquest battles, for example, were just not my thing. My melee fighting in AC has always been a weakness, and button-mashing battles just don’t appeal to me. But it didn’t matter, because I didn’t have to do them. It was just so pleasant to have this kind of choice about what I wanted to do.

To be honest, I think the civilian killing is the only thing that made me think that this game didn’t feel like an AC game. There has been a lot of stick about Odyssey not being anything to do with the actual assassin’s creed, as it doesn’t actually exist yet. But these things don’t just burst into existence overnight. They have to evolve, and Odyssey is a fantastic precursor game. Apart from the civilian murders, really at no other time did I think that this wasn’t an AC game. It’s such a good game in and of itself that it really doesn’t matter that there’s no creed or hidden blades. In fact, I really liked the Spear of Leonidas as my primary weapon. In Origins, I favoured the bow, but the bows in Odyssey are pretty pants. However, this spear was a more than adequate replacement. Once you level it up a bit, you can do some truly awesome moves with it that blow hidden blades out of the water. I’m going to be really sad in the next AC game when that disappears. Unless it’s replaced by something even more awesome …

So, in a nutshell, I think Odyssey is a fun, epic and promising evolution in the AC franchise. I didn’t care a jot that there were no hidden blades; this game is outstanding as a game on its own, and it is an engaging precursor to the actual creed. Hey, I’ve sunk nearly 130 hours into it, so it must be good. Hoorah for the direction AC is now heading in! It makes me feel like Ubisoft is really digging into the potential for the franchise, which is exciting and optimistic for future episodes.

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