Ubisoft brings the “Assassin’s Creed” franchise to a whole new level of awesome in its new game, “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.”
Fans of the series know that Assassin’s Creed revolves around an age-old conflict between the clandestine “Assassin’s” and “Templars,” who fight entire wars behind the scenes of history. Modern-day assassins use a machine called the “Animus” to explore the past and find hidden ancient relics necessary to get the one-up on the “Templars.”
“Odyssey,” released October 5, 2018, takes place in the beautiful ancient lands of Greece, several years after the 300 Spartans fought back against Xerxes’ Persian invasion.
Players assume the roles of either Alexios or Kassandra the Eagle-Bearer, descendants of the legendary Leonidas of Sparta. This is the first game in the franchise that truly represents a roleplaying game (RPG) — players have choices over their characters’ actions, down to the gender of their character.
“Odyssey’s” Greece is more beautiful than any “Assassin’s Creed” to date. Players will need modern graphic technology to support the new “Ultra High” graphic settings, and even on the lower settings, the game looks amazing.
“Odyssey” centers around the Eagle-Bearer’s fight to unite his or her family and take down the shadowy “Cult of Kosmos,” a secretive order that precedes the modern-day “Templars.”
The cult has infiltrated every aspect of Greek society and is present in the courts of both Athens and Sparta, leaders of the Delian and Peloponnesian Leagues. “Odyssey” explains the cult orchestrated the Peloponnesian War to seize power from behind the scenes. They also have an interest in the Eagle-Bearers’ bloodline, said to derive from the ancient god-like race that preceded humanity on earth.
There is an impressive air of mystery surrounding every step of the plot, and players slowly uncover more information about the Cult of Kosmos — and the ancient Greek world — as they play.
“Odyssey” follows in Ubisoft’s 2017 “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” footsteps by expanding on the new gameplay. Combat is flush and entertaining as ever with the new addition of abilities like “Bull Rush,” and “Sparta Kick.” However, this comes at a cost.
Because of the in-game leveling system, players will frequently encounter opponents who are too strong to be killed in one stealth attack. This completely forces players away from Assassin’s Creed’s stealthy-roots and forces them to beef up their characters for as much open conflict as possible. It is still fun, but for a game that has built itself up on player choice, this is an incredibly limiting dynamic.
Morality takes hold in “Odyssey,” and in a way more meaningful than the “Good or bad” morality systems of other games. In one of the earlier choices in “Odyssey,” your character comes across a family struck by plague who are about to be executed to prevent the spread of the disease. It may seem right to save the family in the moment, but if the player lets them live, they spread the plague, which results in many deaths across the island of Kephallonia, your character’s home. This nuanced morality brings a level of complexity to decision-making that is not present in many other open-world RPGs today.
There is a plentiful cast of historic figures your character can meet. Among them is the first historian, Herodotus, Perikles, the father of modern democracy, Sokrates, one of the founders of modern philosophy and Pythagoras, the great mathematician. “Odyssey” weaves these characters into its story seamlessly — Sokrates is as obnoxiously thought-provoking as the history books say he is, while Herodotus asks to join the Eagle-Bearer’s crew in sailing the Aegean Sea to document the player’s adventures.
Critics and reviewers claim the game’s main story lasts anywhere from 36-50 hours alone, depending on play-style and skill. Much of the game involves grinding experience to get to a high enough level to take on more powerful opponents. On top of the main quest, there are countless side quests, missions and challenges to keep the player entertained.
While the combat seems to push out stealth at times, “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey,” is a game worth sinking hours into for a lush, action-packed and thoughtful adventure.