Last year’s Assassin’s Creed Origins left us with an appetite to want to traverse the ancient world further. Fortunately, 12 months later Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was released. The 11th edition of the series moves West from its predecessor into a Grecian setting.
It’s a turbulent time in 431BC, the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War; the infamous historical conflict between Greece’s two most prominent superpowers. Odyssey brings an open world gameplay scarcely seen before, with the scale of the area open for exploration dwarfs that of previous instalments, allowing you to wander the entirety of the Hellenistic world. The open world feel to the game does not end with the far-reaching borders but also the side missions and side characters bring greater depth and breadth to Odyssey as a whole.
Odyssey is unique in that it lets you choose the protagonist you play as either Alexios/ Kassandra, (both are essentially the same character in the game), who are descendants of the Spartan King Leonidas. The flexibility of these characters is greater than in any of Odyssey’s predecessors, and it’s entirely your own decision in which path your character should take either that. Whether it’s a merciless mercenary or an executioner with a consciousness, the dialogue only amplifies the personality you create, and rarely influences the main story. The detailing of ancient Greece is superb; however, the animation of the protagonists’ faces is equally remarkable, with their facial expressions requiring no words to accompany their reaction. This standard of animation is beyond many contemporary games and really brings a greater richness to the gameplay drama. Although, there is tremendous quality to the detail of the character and the world surrounding them, the quality of the accents certainly fluctuates, nonetheless is this is minor criticism in an otherwise totally compelling game.
Assassin’s Creed has long since followed the conflict between the Assassin’s and the Templars through the ages, but in Odyssey, you wave farewell to that tedious conflict as the story now orientates around a family feud. The change is something that was in dire need as the Templar dispute had become outdated, and this new direction is one of many aspects of Odyssey which breathes new life into the series. Side missions have been a highlight and source of jubilation ever since the first Assassin’s Creed, and in Odyssey, they are taken to a whole new level of enjoyment; there is an abundance of side/ extra missions to do post completing the story mode.
There is a greater flexibility of the characters which extends into the side missions, for instance, the deeds of your character will lead you to side missions tailored to the identity you are creating. The missions you can participate in include attacking supply convoys, murdering national leaders and influencing the war by helping/hindering the factions in different regions. The actions of your character can lead to consequential ripples that reach out across all the Aegean. For instance, murdering prominent figures can then lead to battles breaking out which will immerse you in the Peloponnesian war. The battles are spectacular and allow you to enhance your fighting skills and grant you the opportunity to deploy all that is in your armoury, including the notorious Spartan kick. Unfortunately, the battles you stir do not have too much of an impact on the wider conflict. The side missions bring with them a host of side characters as well who’s fate depends on the character of your chosen protagonist.
The world that surrounds you has been created with such precision and an awe-striking effect that it rivals the magnificence of Marvel’s Spider-man. Arguably the world constructed in Odyssey surpasses Spider-man’s Manhattan due to the diverse landscape.
On land or at sea there is much to take your breath away regarding your surroundings, and there’s something truly spectacular about the sailing and naval combat in this game, which is a pinnacle of Odyssey. The sailing side of the game really offers a sense of appreciation for the ingenuity and skill of the Athenian navy, which served as the catalyst for their rise to prominence. Odyssey’s world appears all-encompassing with regards to the ancient world, and its beauty is one of the standout features of the game. The vibrancy, colours and various textures are truly staggering and evoke wonder and amazement.
Overall, Odyssey does not leave much to the imagination as it offers a sublime virtually created world, a lengthy story mode and plentiful side missions, and there is no question that the bar for its successors has now been raised extremely high. Ultimately the game is pleasantly refreshing in a seasoned franchise and has the genuine feeling that this is the finest instalment in the series and only adds to an already rich tapestry.
by Henry Burgess