ASSASSIN’S CREED ODYSSEY [Review]: A World Series Homer.
Despite my longtime affinity for the Ezio trilogy, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is the best in the series. Sure, it’s partly because a lot of screwed up shit happens in Ancient Greece, or that I had a choice to play as a female assassin/mercenary; but, having recently completed the game, it’s the best for so many other reasons…
The dialogue choices impacting the world and its characters made the story and side quests more engaging. This aspect of the game is new to the Assassin’s Creed series, and it absolutely homed in on the many beloved games that mastered open-world with dialogue choices such as some Bioware games (e.g. Mass Effect, Dragon Age), Bethesda games (e.g. Skyrim, Fallout), and even The Witcher. Although the side quests were exhaustive, most of them were too good to pass. Contributing to this is the main character and NPC voice acting and facial animation. Sure, many NPCs looked similar, but the cinematics and detailed expressions were up there with Horizon Zero Dawn.
Kassandra is the best protagonist in the series. I’ve never felt so connected to an Assassin’s Creed protagonist and engaged into the story as much as Odyssey. As Kassandra, I felt both like an empathetic hero, and at the same time a bloodthirsty Spartan. This combination is no easy task to achieve. Not only is she completely bad ass, with amazing biceps, a cute braided pony tail, and some dope armor, but she is funny, sarcastic, and caring (at least if you want her to be).
The AC series combat system tightened up with AC: Origins, when the bumper and lock on system was implemented, but the additional abilities in AC: Odyssey really stepped the series combat up a few levels. Sure, the combat is still very forgiving in that you can hack ‘n slash away then take a several hits without dying.. well.. at least until you’re trying to take over a fort and have several bounty hunters looking for you. I enjoyed this feature, which was in Origins, but this one feels a lot more persistent.. maybe too persistent since it makes completing every location a bit tedious. And there’s a lot of locations, maybe too many (and I refused to pay off bounties, because then they win and get what they want).
Additionally, you’re almost always fighting an army of enemies instead of being able to stealthily pick them off like we have in traditional Assassin’s Creed titles. This worked for the time period of interest (we even started the game with the War of 300), and you don’t particularly obtain the traditional insta-kill stealth/ hidden-blade- esque abilities unless you unlock them in the assassin’s skill tree. But, let’s be real: we all wanted that spartan kick. This overall gives AC a satisfying and refreshing combat system, one that allows players to adapt their skill tree to their personal playstyle.
The world is beautiful, and the map is huge–maybe a bit too big for its own good. As a completionist, having to wipe out so many locations — when there were so many satisfying side quests — pulled me away from the best parts of the game. These option adventures put together missing puzzle pieces from the main story and supplement the main character by a tenfold. Perhaps Ubisoft could’ve cut out some question marks/locations and cut out some fetch quests, but I guess it’s my fault for being a trophy hunter and having to do everything on the way.
Eventually I gave up on doing it all and just focused on the main story and platinum roadmap, and I’ve never been so satisfied in an AC game. It’s worth noting that I have never been a fan of the grind because it can make a good game become stale, but I imagine many gamers (i.e. Witcher diehards) will enjoy the endless tasks. When I platinum games like God of War 4 and Spider-Man, they allow me to feel a sense of completion without burning me out through redundant tasks and collectibles. Nonetheless, AC: Odyssey pays huge homage to Black Flag by bringing ship combat and underwater exploration back and better than ever.
As I mentioned before, the game takes a turn and includes something special that really puts the puzzle pieces together for the main story. Completing the main story is amazing but I can assure you there’s more to the Kassandra/Alexios story than that when you explore the world more and engage in core side quests. Even if you aren’t a trophy/achievement hunter, it is worth following the roadmap to experience an amazing yet optional part of the game. Although these quests are a choice, they’re yet another aspect of this game that makes it the best AC game to date.
While this game is arguably the best in the series, in between all the other behemoths in 2018 (e.g. God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, Spider-Man), I fear its charm will get buried. AC: Odyssey doesn’t particularly do anything that other games haven’t done before and although the graphics are beautiful, there are so many details that go under the radar (e.g. footprints in the sand or vibrant colors in the underwater depths). This is a bit nit-picky and doesn’t by any means make it a bad game, it just doesn’t make it GOTY worthy. AC: Odyssey also suffers from many frame rate drops and even caused my game to crash more than three times. This is especially annoying because the loading screens were uncomfortably long. It is also worth noting that Odyssey has good sound as the music was ambient during exploration and epic during battle scenes.
At the end of the (Black Fri..) day, Odyssey has the best protagonist (I can’t speak for Alexios), the best combat, and the best story in the series. Kassandra is a top three female protagonist next to Alloy and Ellie. I also got a good ending and am very curious to see the different endings from other players. 4.25/5 Bibles.