A Godly Experience
As we’ve progressed further into the 21st century, it’s become rarer and rarer to be captivated by something, at least for any real length of time. Trends today don’t keep a foothold longer than a matter of months, but some tried and true things do. Like Greek Mythology.
Tales of the Greek gods have captivated humanity since their creation over 2,000 years ago. After all, everyone loves a good story, so if you’re going to tell one, like Ubisoft’s latest game Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey does, it’d behoove you to borrow some inspiration from the Greek masters. Better yet, it’d be a good idea to weave their ancient tales into your story.
Canadian publisher Ubisoft was able to achieve this, and make the latest entry of the Assassin’s Creed series among its most successful. Not only do the game’s creators borrow inspiration from the famous Greek bards, they go a step further by including them in the game. For instance, the dreaded Medusa makes an appearance in a terrifying setting.
After putting in close to 100 in-game hours, it’s pretty obvious that the game is top-shelf. But the reasons for this are not limited to the story that’s told.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey builds on the previous game in the series, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, set in Ancient Egypt, by using the same functionality, but it completely switches everything else. What’s undeniable is that Ubisoft’s desire to change the Assassin’s Creed games into a more RPG-style controller setup worked. So, as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
However, the newer game still needed to distinguish itself, so a more vibrant color palate was needed to juxtapose rich greenery of the Greek Isles against the arid landscape of the Egyptian desert. And this leads to certainly the most eye-catching aspect of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey: the art style and direction. The color palate is beyond compare, thanks to a combination of advanced technology and one of the world’s most beautiful environments, which contains everything from lush green forests to gray petrified woods to all manner of the reds, oranges and yellows seen in active volcanoes and the deep blues of Atlantis. Add in the fact that there are no such things as Ancient Greek ruins during the birth of Athenian democracy, and you get a game that shows off the beauty of what the ancient world looked like, thanks to the help of some world-renowned Greek historians.
The story is terrific as well, if not slightly predictable. At the beginning of the game, the player gets to choose a male or female protagonist (I chose the female, Kassandra), in their journey to bring peace to the Greek Isles and rid the land of the dreaded Cult of Kosmos, a precursor to the Assassin Order’s arch-enemy, the Knights Templar. Kassandra’s performance (voiced by Melissanthi Mahut) was so good that she was nominated for best voice performance at The Game Awards 2018 alongside Christopher Judge, who voiced the legendary Kratos from God of War, and the eventual winner Roger Clark, who voiced Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey has a wide-ranging story that incorporates not only all of the Greek Isles, but also a who’s who of Greek history, from famous playwrights like Sophocles and Aristophanes, who are always searching for great plays to write, to legendary scholars like Herodotus, who’s convinced to not document the existence of Atlantis in his history books. There are also philosophers like Socrates, who in classic Socratic fashion is constantly asking questions.
Another attractive part of the game is the vast customization included in it. You have to build a full armor set, as well as a weapon set complete with two melee weapons and a bow and arrow (my favorite). There are an infinite amount of ways to equip your character, and with four different classes of equipment (Common, Rare, Epic, Legendary), those combinations are endless. And with an initial level cap of 50 that grown over the six months since the game’s release, the potential to become stronger and stronger never ceases.
Now there are many terrific parts of this game, but remember: it isn’t perfect. First, with a game world as expansive as this one, there are bound to be graphical issues like clipping, pixelation and empty assets. These aren’t nearly as bad as they were with Assassin’s Creed: Unity, but they are still present, though they’re being worked on. It’s obvious that Ubisoft did some soul-searching after Unity, and decided to issue games every other year, rather than annual installments, to ensure maximum satisfaction.
However, there’s another problem. In the world of video game issues, having too much content is one of the best to have, but it’s still a problem. This concern is constantly present, with a multitude of quests always waiting to be completed or started. Message Boards are situated at multiple points of every town with available missions, but the problem is that these can sidetrack a player and remove them from the main storyline, which is what matters. There are, of course, side mission lines that are crucial to the story and can help clarify parts of it, such as missions for Socrates, but they are grossly outnumbered in Odyssey by pointless fetch quests and bounty missions.
However, perhaps the biggest detriment of this game is that the main enemy, the Cult of Kosmos is built up throughout the game as a collection of paralyzing adversaries, known as Cultists. At times, they don’t have any real depth to their characters. This is to say that there isn’t much of a reason to want to kill them other than to progress and take down the Cult Leader. Some of the Cult members have backstories, but the majority don’t, which begs the question of what happened: Did the game’s developers run out of time with some or did they just not care?
Conclusion and Verdict:
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is a fine entry into the game universe. It certainly is not the best of the series, which has seen 11 feature-length games released over 12 years, but it definitely ranks as one of its better entries. Through its exquisite art direction and great attention to detail, along with its terrific story and wonderful use of great historic figures to enhance it and give it a sense of purpose, it seems like the Assassin’s Creed Universe is fully on track to return to its former glory. 8/10