Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Odyssey is the eleventh Assassin’s Creed game. It’s changed over the years and has more in common with Far Cry, than with its predecessors. The result is… well… let’s have a look.

Plot

In the near future, in a parallel universe, a company called Abstergo has discovered the means to see through the eyes of long dead people through their DNA. This was developed using technology from an ancient race of near-gods that predated humanity, but vanished. Abstergo uses the technology for finding ancient powerful artifacts, but also for entertainment purposes.

In this installment of the game, you look through the eyes of a misthios (mercenary) from the time of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. In other words, ancient Greece. He or she (player’s choice) turns out to be the heir of King Leonidas, and can wield his spear.

Of course, there are also sinister forces at work, that have divided the main character’s family. Resolving these issues is a main driver for the main character’s odyssey.

Storytelling galore

Ubisoft has clearly been looking at the Witcher 3. Odyssey contains loads of quests, all scripted and unique, with voice acting and NPCs. That’s great. I liked it about the Witcher 3, and I like it here.

Of course, I’m also very critical on storytelling. I’ve written about this before, and the same applies here: the pacing and build-up suffers from the open-world nature of the game.

But, hey, I knew that going in.

A Far Cry from the original

I’ve played nine out of the eleven Assassin’s creed games, so Odyssey isn’t my first rodeo. I even reviewed some before.

The first game was an open world, where you — as an assassin — had to find a way to assassinate certain Templars. You gained powers and weapons with each mission, and had to use mini-quests to figure out the best way to perform your assassinations. The game had a good story, but was also somewhat repetitive.

The second game was bigger, and had more things to do. It still focused on assassinations, now as a renaissance assassin, but had side quests and you could build up your base later in the game.

Part three added hunting, and part four added ships. When the tenth installment rolled around, it added RPG mechanics. Which brings us to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. This game has a huge world, with a gazillion things to do. There are many story-driven quests, and ships, and bases to conquer, viewports to climb, and weapons to track down, and RPG mechanics, and… so much more.

Meanwhile, Far Cry slowly became more like Assassin’s Creed. It’s open world, with viewpoints to climb, and bases to conquer, and… okay, you get my drift.

All Ubisoft games are more or less the same these days. They’re fun, but Odyssey feels more like Far Cry than the original Assassin’s Creed. You’re not even an assassin anymore. I’m still waiting for an actual new Assassin’s Creed game. Maybe the next one, because Ubisoft seems to have finally realized this themselves.

The real odyssey only took 10 years

Ubisoft is a AAA games developer. Unfortunately, to the AAA game industry, a game is just a vessel to sell you more digital goods. Ubisoft has jumped onto this band wagon in several ways.

First, the game has multiple editions, DLC, and a so-called ‘season pass’. This means you’re buying a game, and then you can buy a lot of extra content for this game for at least a year. Fair enough, so far.

Of course, all the extra content has been set up for maximum psychological sales effect. Personally, I’m not very sensitive to that — I’ve never bought anything beyond extra story content and a special edition of some of my favorite games — but some people are. Like most AAA games these days, Odyssey tries to prey on those vulnerable to addiction and manipulation, like for example children. The game uses psychological tricks, multiple in-game currencies, popups, and who knows what else to try to seduce vulnerable people — and children — to spending hard cash. Go watch Jim Sterling explain exactly how sick this really is.

The added problem is that the game has been designed to sell ‘time savers’. All the gear you have is for a certain level of the character. If the character levels, they have to either upgrade equipment, or find new equipment. This means that you’re constantly looking for new equipment and/or resources to upgrade. You can go to level 50, so this takes up a lot of time. Then there’s the gigantic map and a gazillion side quests. All in all, Odyssey is a slog that takes hundreds of hours to complete. And that’s by design so you buy the time savers.

Long live corporate greed.

Conclusion

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a great game. The only thing is: for a casual game like me, it’s too long. I’ve been playing since October, and I’m only halfway through. I want it to be done, and I’m slowly reaching a point where I just don’t care about the game any more. By the time I’m done, I’m pretty sure I won’t love it anymore, not like a game like Hellblade.

So, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, a great game, until you just want it to be over already.

Author: Martin Stellinga

I'm a science fiction and fantasy writer from the Netherlands