Thoughts on Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
This probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but I’m a huge fan of video games. I’ve always found them a great source of inspiration, comfort, and straight out fun. That, of course, doesn’t mean that I enjoy every game out there, but the Assassin’s Creed games, for the most part, have proven a good fit for me.
To avoid writing a full-length essay about my relationship with this series, let’s just say I’m a fan. There are around a dozen Assassin’s Creed games at this point, and none of them are perfect. Some quite miss the mark, in fact. Yet, I still get a lot of enjoyment out of them, and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is no exception.
I’ve been playing Odyssey for the past five months and 100%-ed it just recently, so I’m tempted to delve into details and talk to death about every aspect of the game. However, since I imagine we all have better things to do, I’ll forgo the in-depth review and simply list my top 5 best and worst elements of AC: Odyssey!
5. Kassandra and her Story
It’s hard to say why I like this character so much. Sure, throughout the story we learn of certain elements that make this protagonist unique to the series, but I took a liking to Kassandra from the very get-go. The voice acting and facial animations undoubtedly helped with that.
As for her odyssey, the story of the game branches out in multiple directions, but the one I found the most compelling was Kassandra’s personal quest to reunite with her family. Depending on the decisions you make throughout the game, this plays out in different ways, but in my playthrough there were quite a few moments that surprisingly got to me.
The story as a whole is far from flawless, though. I have quite a few issues with the way it is executed. Nevertheless, I still really liked the concept of Kassandra’s journey and I’ll remember this character fondly.
5. The Clumsy Execution
I can’t look past the fact that the game would’ve been a whole lot of better if the writing was more fleshed out. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is the first game in the series that has branching dialogue options, meaning, you as a player get to choose how the story develops. However, most of this comes down to yes or no options, which often takes away complexity and downplays any morally grey situations.
Additionally, the dialogue itself often lacks depth, even in the situations where previous choices or established lore make room for it. Missed opportunities like these disappoint me because they could’ve easily given certain scenes and characters more weight simply by writing their lines better.
4. The Fate of Atlantis DLC
This part of the game is what I’ve been expecting of the AC series ever since the developers announced that we’re going back to ancient times. It’s high fantasy/sci-fi stuff, and I love it!
Prince of Persia vibes, anyone?
The story of this DLC is nothing ground-breaking or monumental for the series, but it builds on previously established lore and it deals with aspects that are perhaps the most interesting to me when it comes to the Assassin’s Creed narrative. I guess it’s not for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. (I would say more, but that’s spoiler territory.)
4. The Legacy of the First Blade DLC
This DLC started well enough, but by the end of its second act, the story takes a turn that makes the whole thing seem like fan fiction. The good in the bad is that this narrative acts so disjointed from the rest of the game that it can be fully ignored with zero consequences.
3. The Gameplay
When it comes to the gameplay loop, the Assassin’s Creed games are tailored made for me. The combat, the stealth approach, the traversal and exploration… It took me around 130 hours to finish Odyssey, and not once in that time did I get tired of simply playing the game! This did, however, take a bit of tweaking to avoid the grind, which brings me to my negative point.
3. Hit and Miss RPG Elements
Whereas this game’s predecessor, AC: Origins, was an Assassin’s Creed game with RPG elements, Odyssey is an RPG game with Assassin’s Creed elements. But the thing is… I’m unsure if that trade paid off. It pains me to say this, but AC: Odyssey isn’t that good of an RPG. Not only are the dialogue options limited, making it impossible to actually role play, but the consequences of your actions hardly ever matter.
Another thing essential to most RPGs is a good loot/gear system. Odyssey does parts of it exemplary – the cosmetic changes of your weapon and armour, the upgrade system, additional enchantments… It’s all player-friendly and convenient, but it matters little when you’re required to change your entire set every thirty minutes! Basically, if you’re not wearing the toughest gear, fighting even a common enemy can take longer than it’s fun (playing on hard difficulty, at least). Since enemies scale with you, levelling doesn’t help and you’re expected to take a break after every level and equip better gear. To avoid this staggering loop, at some point I had lowered the enemy scaling system in the options menu and the rest of the game felt just right. There was no grind afterwards and I only changed my gear once every 5 to 10 levels.
Still, part of me wished that the developers didn’t go so far in their attempts to turn this game into a fully pledged RPG. Taking a different approach to the series is fine and I salute it, but bringing in all these new elements doesn’t mean much if most of them are shallow.
2. The Soundtrack
The original music in this series never disappoints. Odyssey has a different overall theme compared to the other games in the series, but it’s no less grand and it complements the world of Ancient Greece perfectly! There were also a few character/story moments that might’ve fallen flat for me if not for this amazing soundtrack.
2. Sparta vs. Athens Crap
The game takes place during the Peloponnesian War and every region on the map is under control of either Sparta or Athens. Throughout the story you take different sides depending on your current goals, but outside of story missions, you’re free to do whatever you want.
The issue is, if you want to explore the world or do side quests, you’re going to end up fighting everyone, killing innocent soldiers left and right. Not only does this make little sense concerning the narrative, but it also breaks immersion. Such evident lack of consistency left me wishing that the developers simply populated the map with generic bandits and bad guys like they did in AC: Origins.
1. The World
Assassin’s Creed games had always had amazing environments, but Odyssey takes it to a whole other level... The game is set in Ancient Greece and it’s probably the most beautiful game I’ve ever played in terms of open-world aesthetics (and yes, I’ve played The Witcher 3). The detail, the vibrancy, the fact that you can go and climb on everything!
These are all in-game screenshots, by the way! (I've taken hundreds of them...)
I mean, forget anything else, it’s just a joy to move around in this world! The main reason I wanted to complete every location and do every side-quest was simply because I had to explore and experience every part of the map. Just look at it! It’s fucking gorgeous! (And I didn’t even play on the absolute highest settings…)
1. The Modern-Day Story
For long-time fans of the series, I needn’t say anything more. For those who have no idea what the Modern-Day story is, the short of it would be that all AC games have two narratives: one that takes place in the present day, and another that plays out in a historical setting (where 99% of the gameplay happens).
The Modern-Day story is supposed to be the thread that connects all the games throughout the series, and it was well implemented at first. In the early Assassin’s Creed games, the Modern-Day narrative was the narrative of the series, and I found it both cool and promising. Somewhere along the way, however, it all went horribly wrong and there’s no clear vision or direction anymore.
I don’t know if they tried to make something out of it in Odyssey, but they certainly didn’t seem to care much. The old characters have been forsaken, while the new ones are a bland mess. None of it feels significant anymore... Seeing how this series has so much potential given its lore, I find it very disappointing that no effort was put into this aspect of the game.
This is going to sound absolutely ridiculous, but I don't give a shit. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey has the best horse mechanics. Ever!
So, yeah… overall, AC: Odyssey is a bit of a mixed bag, but despite its many flaws, I had tons of fun with it. In fact, I’m going to miss it. Kassandra turned out to be a memorable character, while the world of Ancient Greece I got to explore throughout her journey is already making me nostalgic. I had good times with this game while most of my gripes come down to mishandled potential and an occasional lack of focus.
I’ll definitely play the next instalment in the series. However, I won’t be expecting much outside of fun gameplay and stunning world design. But hey, sometimes that’s enough!
As for my final rating for AC: Odyssey, I guess an 8/10 would do… Yeah, that feels about right.
Just a heads up, there're more games I'd like to write about in the upcoming days, so stay tuned.