Assassin’s Creed is a well known series of games that has been known for many base principles of play. Silently assassinate targets, blend into crowds, learn about history in a true sense, and uncover mysteries that have been forgotten for hundreds of years. The games themselves have stirred up controversy in the gaming community for a few years now. Graphical issues and mediocre, repetitive game play are just a couple of the issues that have plagued Creed games on and off since the first release in 2007. There’s been many aspects of these games that have kept gamers coming back for more, and we’ll get into that as we dive deeper into the review and visit different portions of this article. One thing is for certain, we have a very detailed review coming your way.
Ubisoft makes a strong claim that with AC Odyssey, you’re able to pick your own adventure by making different choices and decisions through your play through. I hold some strong opinions on that. Let’s dig into the logistics. I only played through the main story and many of the side quests once. It was very uncommon for me to feel like the decisions I was making had a significant impact on what was going to happen next or how the story would change. Often you’re faced with different dialog choices when talking with NPCs. Choices like attacking, paying off, love making, even which wine you decide to give one particular character. I never felt like those choices affected how the rest of the story would follow. Without a second playthrough, it’s difficult to tell for sure.
Being able to pick between a male or female protagonist makes no difference in the story or quest lines at all. It would be cool if they added some differences, but from Ubisoft’s own words, the difference is purely cosmetic.
The main story of AC Odyssey is where the game shines the brightest. I don’t plan on giving many spoilers, but I will suffice to say you are the grand son of the Spartan leader Leonidas. You’re on a journey to uncover the whereabouts of your mother, the fate of your father, the identity of your sister, and determine the outcome of the war between the Spartans and the Athenians. It’s very interesting watching it all unfold and help to shape the outcome of the story, assuming that’s really what you’re doing and it’s not just an odd ploy by Ubisoft. I will be replaying the story, especially in anticipation of the DLC expected to release in the coming months.
Let’s dive into the bread and butter. One thing that has set Assassin’s Creed games apart from many other games of their genre, is the ability to hide in plain site, escape difficult situations, assassinate targets by way of a “hidden blade”, ascend buildings, and learn about history and historians in the storyline. If AC Odyssey continues to carry any of these traits, it heavily waters them down and can make them feel boring or even unnecessary or forced. Being able to hide in closed groups of NPCs to blend into a crowd, hiding in bushel carts to escape a group of assailants, walking up behind a crucial target to perform an instant assassination by way of the iconic hidden blade and even the pointed cowl that you always noticed and knew was a symbol of the games are all gone. These are some of the biggest aspects of the games I loved that made it feel different and not like just another hack n slash RPG. It’s upsetting and a little irritating, but let’s see what we’re left with.
The ability to stealthily crouch around in tall grass to sneak up on unsuspecting victims is a satisfying act and one I do not easily bore of. I only wish instead of my attack coming from the spear of Leonidas (that’s right, the Spartan ruler. We’ll get into that more later.), it would come from the hidden blade that we’ve all come to know and love. I get it though, it wouldn’t fit the story and would probably ruin the lore. Regardless, I loved the hidden blade and what it stood for. Climbing onto roofs and ascending buildings is still very fun.
It’s also worth to note that because of the environment and terrain, you’ll be climbing mountains, hills, cliffs, and all sorts of terrain. It feels reminiscent of older games and still somehow manages to feel new. The implementation of ranged weaponry is very good. The bow works well to allow easy aiming. It’s also powerful enough to be used as a main weapon, if you have the correct build on the ability tree. With that said, overall I’d say the abilities are decent. Spartan kick is a bad ass way to rid yourself of annoying opponents mid combat by knocking them off a cliff or building with devastating force. The healing is useful for when you’re taking on multiple opponents and get ganged up on. The stun ability is great for making an easy escape, only to back trail and do a high damage assassin attack on foes that won’t die in a single stab. And the resource you’ll use to be able to use the abilities, adrenaline, is obtained by attacking, dodging, and partying you foes in combat. It’s a strong system Ubisoft implemented into a very generic and bland hack and slash style of game play. It’s too bad. Dodge, attack, parry, attack, get hit, dodge. It’s bland. For some reason, it felt more satisfying in older games. It gets heavily repetitive to the point you almost want to avoid enemies if you can. You can spend hours trying to master the combat, and get pretty bored doing so.
Quests are similar. It feels like the developer put a lot of filler side quests in the game just to add additional time to play. I’m kind of feeling I’m on a middle ground with that, because it forces me to explore more by doing those quests, which aren’t necessary anyway. Overall, I find the game play fun. All of the different pieces make a pretty puzzle. It isn’t perfect. The different types of weapon and abilities do help to make the game feel anything but dull. Like quite a number of games, you’ll find yourself repeating the same use of buttons over and over until you’re numb in the mind.
Cruising the seas deserves its own section. Ship control is fuuuuuun. This is one of my favorite things to do in Odyssey. I could literally spend hours sailing the uncontrollable ocean waters, holding off attacks from multiple enemies, facing off against mercenaries who have been paid to bring the highest bidder your head, boarding enemy carriers upon nearly destroying their boats and taking their loot. The list goes on. The excitement you get clearing your way through storms is wonderful. I’m really glad they brought this aspect into their latest title, especially with how necessary they made it.
Allow me to suffice to say, this game is beautiful. The textures, movements, and landscapes are better than they’ve ever been in a Creed game. If the developer worked as hard on the rest of the game as they have on the physical details, they’d have a master piece. Climbing, fighting, and even the dialog communicated between characters is awesome. When talking to an NPC, you can see emotion and mood between your hero and the person you speak with. However, I have a gripe.
Ubisoft, WHY are you reusing face skins? The first real antagonist I met and defeated, I met as a helpful NPC moments later. And then hours after that. It happened multiple times with multiple faces. I found this so annoying it almost made me angry. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why they’d go to such great lengths to make such a good looking game only to tarnish it with reused skins.
Other than the issue with reusing character skins, this game is near flawless in physical appearance. The beautiful, wide open environments that span for miles. The hyper realistic textures on land, building, character, and water. The fluid animations and relatable gestures between characters. It all goes so well. It’s easily the best part of the game.
Ubisoft has a very flawed diamond on their hands. Everything attracts me and pulls me in, but for once reason or another I often find myself frustrated or just shaking my head. I’m excited to start a new playthrough and continue the journey with upcoming DLC that is sure to please. My biggest complaint has to do with the messiness that comes with the quests. You’re left trying to complete as much as you can and everything you come across, which can be heavily distracting. And there is a LOT to do and accomplish. With so many flaws, it’s easy to see Ubisoft may have felt a bit rushed at times, while often taking the initiative to make it clear they care about the content they’re releasing. They’ve got a solid hold on what they’re doing, and in excited to see how they finish it.
Dan Mount is a lifelong avid gamer and computer builder. He’s been playing games on consoles of all sorts starting with the NES and now plays many different genres on the PC. Writing is a hobby, but gaming is a life style.