'Assassin's Creed Odyssey' Review: A Journey of Love, Loss, and Hilarious Dialogue
Assassin's Creed Odyssey brings a lot of "new" to the franchise. RPG-driven dialogue wheel has made its grand appearance, as well as choosing between a male or a female protagonist, and chosen (and woo'd) romance options. Assassin's Creed appears to be in touch with their inner BioWare and just like their famous franchises such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age, Odyssey too will have resounding consequences regarding player-made choices.
At the beginning of the game, players can choose to take on the world of Ancient Greece through the eyes of Kassandra or Alexios. For my playthrough I chose Kassandra, which was amazing to me as woman who has been in love with this series since the time of Altair. Though we've been able to play as women in the past with a spin-off games and most notably Syndicate, Odyssey was the first time that a woman was the protagonist of the game.
Playing as a hardened 'misthios' during the Peloponnesian war was phenomenal. Playing with dialogue options to tailor the character to my own personal liking in this world was even better. What makes Kassandra (or Alexios) so intriguing is that she was of Spartan blood, but was cast out of her family because of the Oracle at Delphi. Since her family was torn asunder, Kassandra was forced to continue to build upon that Spartan strength to survive on her own alongside a colorful makeshift family of her own choosing – even if Markus did run her as an errand mule.
To stay true to its RPG inspiration, the character build up began from the very first cutscene and stacked onto her growth with each quest taken on. Her choices mattered, her responses to the world around her mattered. This is a first for the franchise and a major step forward for a series that still has so much potential on the horizon.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey is the largest game in the franchise to date, even trumping that of the humongous Origins that took place in Ancient Egypt. The expansiveness was evident by the sheer size of the map, with every inch available to explore from the treacherous mountains, to the calming beaches – even the ocean's depth that housed incredible sea life, including deadly sharks.
The team did an incredible job with recreating the beauty that continues to enrapture history lovers to this day. The architecture, the philosophy that can be heard in the streets, the statues found all over, the ever fluid environmental – everything about this game was dynamic both in the world available to explore and how the character made their way through it.
Just with my time with the game, one of the best parts about this expansive world was that Ubisoft made players want to explore it. Visually, it was stunning, and the quests littered all over meant something. The stories hidden away in the main narrative housed characters you wanted to find, you wanted to know, and that makes the explorable terrain even more lustrous in what it has to offer regarding a full player experience.
The flow of the narrative between actual gameplay and cutscenes was flawless. Traversing through the different landscapes was made all the more immersive by the lack of loading screens, and the cut scenes offered in-game were woven in expertly. For a story-driven game, that one mechanic can make or break the rhythm of a narrative and the Ubisoft team executed this perfectly. In addition to the smooth travel means, the team did a fantastic job of making sure that in-game movement was plausible. Whether it be the utilization of the fast travel mechanics, or calling up various mounts with a quick button assignment; with such a large world it wasn't a chore to explore everything it had to offer.
As someone that enjoys a thorough game experience, and an avid lover of intricate RPGs, the side quests offered were nothing to scoff at either. Each mission, each "menial" quest felt like it had purpose and drove me as the player to see Kassandra complete everything thrown her way; to become a champion of the people. There is a wide variety of side missions available including puzzle solving, crafting, side storylines, and even naval combat. There were so many tie-in little stories that could be overlooked if a player found themselves pressed for time but when done, offered an incredibly memorable experience.
Without spoiling what the game itself has to offer, I can name 10 side quests off of the top of my head that I will carry with me in fond remembrance for a long time to come. That makes an RPG memorable and a thrilling experience. Pair that with the varying level of "background" noise that changes with the time of the day and the environment the player is in, there is not only a lot to love, but a lot to cherish as well.
There was one mini side quest in particular that I really felt was made even more hilarious just by being Kassandra. Without giving anything away, there was a dialogue option where she could take either take the mature route, or the totally hilarious one. Naturally I chose comedy and her deliberate lowering of her voice to assume Godhood was nothing short of hysterical.
The one featured that I absolutely loved that was added to the game was the ability to romance different characters throughout the game. That alone was pretty amazing, especially from a totally immersive RPG standpoint, but the freedom of dialogue was even better. My Kassandra was a total dog and absolutely nailed the "Aye yo girl, lemme get yo numah" persona. It didn't work out in my favor all of the time, but the effort was there.
It's also important to note that not every relationship in the game has to be a deep seeded proclamation of love – one night stands are aplenty – including one really awkward, um, encounter with an older woman whose husband just couldn't keep up.
My Kassandra was truly a champion of the people.
But it's not all silly shenanigans. Players can choose to pick the more heroic dialogue options, or the more godlike. For those familiar with BioWare's Mass Effect series, I would liken it to that of Renegade vs. Paragon. You could play the compassionate hero, or the ruthless Spartan - or hover in that middle ground and throw in some hilarious one-liners for good measure.
What made Odyssey inevitably addictive is that it doesn't punish players for their choice style. Whereas previous installments implemented an auto-fail system regarding stealth-centric missions, Odyssey allows the freedom to go about the story at whatever pace feels more comfortable. The option to perform reconnaissance via the protagonists' eagle companion offered a unique way to go about strategizing stealth movement. Or, you can just do what I did and go ham every chance you get. No matter which playstyle you choose, the game lets you do just that which is more than previous games in the series offered.
Like many games in recent years, there are the options to purchase in-game items. Whether it be a sweet new look for your mercenary, nifty new mounts, or simple crafting supplies when the grind becomes too much; there are ways to go about getting these. One option, and the one I chose, was simply to earn it through the game and unlocking certain items with the in-game currency. There are a few cosmetic items that are exclusive to Helix credits, which after the initial stipend runs out needs to be purchased with in-game money. Unless you really have your heart set on a particular cosmetic item, it's really not necessary to spend this; most everything available to buy is also available to earn simply by playing the game. For those that really, really want to spend the additional cash – there are bundles offered in exchange for Helix credits ranging from 500 HC to 7,400 HC. Notate that this is not mandatory for an enjoyable experience, the items that help gameplay can all be earned.
Unlike Assassin's Creed Unity, there weren't really any game breaking glitches. At all. There were a few humorous ones … especially when I fell off of a cliff once or twice (seven times), but nothing like some of the issues reported in previous games in the AC series. There was also the time I fell off of Zeus' penis (a statue, you perv), but that was because I decided Kassandra wanted a starring role in the Jackass TV series when I found out that there was nothing unclimbable.
All in all, Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a game changer for the franchise. Visually, narratively, historically – there isn't a single thing I would want to change. Maybe my inner Dragon Age lover would have loved to be able to customize the look of my Kassandra, but that's a silly little 'What If' and in no way damped my enjoyment.
The story was thrilling, heartbreaking at times, and progressive in a way that kept me engaged. Dynamic, immersive, and filled with choice, consequence, and the tumultuous tale of human love, loss, and lessons learned.
It's the game that Assassin's Creed fans deserve as well as a truly charming experience for those gamers just coming in.
WWG Score: 5 out of 5.
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