Assassin’s Creed Odyssey may technically be a sequel to last year’s Assassin’s Creed Origins, but its careful mix of surf and turf definitely makes it feel more like a spiritual successor to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag than anything else. That’s a good thing.
The series’ only too rare foray into nautical naughtiness often serves up some of its best moments. I mean, who hasn’t imagined themselves as a roguish captain with a devil-may-care attitude, a crew of lovable misfits at your beckoning call and an endless ocean on your horizon?
That’s sort of what Assassin’s Creed Odyssey does. Only this time around, you’re sailing the waters of Greece during the period of classical antiquity, a time where Zeus ruled the heavens, Athens and Sparta were at their each other’s throats, and your biggest problem was catching a cold—because it may well be the death of you.
While that does mean your ship is equipped with rowers and archers instead of canons and salty sea dogs, it does present you with a fresh setting and an exciting new world to explore. In fact, playing as either Alexios and Kassandra—the character you choose to play at the onset of the story—offers one of the more convincing narratives I’ve experienced in an Assassin’s Creed game.
Sometimes the plot can run a little thin, and the side-quests are definitely weaker than the game’s driving plot, but I’ll be the first to admit that I rather enjoyed the story Odyssey had to tell. Characters like your first mate, Barnabas, and Nikolaos, The Wolf of Sparta, had me engrossed in the plot every time they appeared on-screen.
Some of the villains in particular—I won’t say who so not to give anything away—were rather convincing. And of course, Alexios (and I assume Kassandra as I chose the male character) was someone I bought into. I cared what happened to him.
That’s not to say the game’s story elements were perfect, but interesting, sometimes tricky player choices, well-written branching dialogue and multiple ways to approach several important moments kept me entertained from start to finish. Still, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, like Assassin’s Creed Origins before it, has some way to go before it will ever usurp the throne from The Witcher 3, but it’s well worth the price of admission if only to experience its classical setting.
In terms of gameplay, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey does a lot of what Origins did before it, only better. Combat remains much the same, except Odyssey introduces a branching skill tree, complete with numerous abilities that change the way you approach combat.
Your archery skills as well as ability to sneak around the world, as only an assassin can, are also upgradeable through new abilities. Throw in a fairly interesting loot system, and it’s safe to say that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey can be tackled in several ways—whatever feels most comfortable to the player.
It’s worth noting that combat starts out a little dreary, as you’re limited to a few basic attacks and the ability to either parry or evade, but levelling up and unlocking new abilities quickly resolves that. I enjoyed finding the right mix of weaponry and abilities that would enable me take on enemies of a much higher level than I was. My only real concern is that the AI can be a little predictable at times, but it’s far from unpalatable.
Beyond player-centric mechanics like combat, levelling up and loot, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey offers the player the opportunity to develop romantic relationships with characters around the game world. It’s an interesting distraction if nothing else, though I certainly didn’t feel the same desire to invest in a relationship like I did in a game like Mass Effect 2, for example. Maybe I’m just not a romantic as I think I am?
Beyond matters of the heart, Odyssey tasks you with overthrowing nations, or at least helping either Athens or Sparta with that task. As you defeat enemy soldiers, pillage their coffers and destroy their supplies, a nation’s strength will decline, leaving it open to attack. Aiding your preferred nation with either the attack or defence of nations around Greece will see you rewarded with epic loot, stacks of cash and, sometimes, story development.
The other element worth taking note of is that misdeeds on your part—you know, the usual stuff like stealing, pillaging, murdering, etc.—can sometimes result in a bounty on your head. To remove your bounty, you can be boring and lay low or pay it off, or you can do what an assassin does best and rid yourself of the problem—namely, the person who put the bounty on your head in the first place.
The conquest and bounty mechanics, besides when they drive the story forward, are really more of a distraction – it’s something to do. I think where Assassin’s Creed Odyssey really shines is in its story and central characters. It’s a great ride, a truly Shakespearean tragedy, only told before Shakespeare’s time. Odyssey isn’t half bad to look at either. It’s a great presentation on all consoles and especially PC.
Personally, I think Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is one of the better Assassin’s Creed games I’ve played, if only for the chance to once again sail the oceans, leaving mischief in my wake.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey really shines in its story and central characters. It’s a great ride.
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