When it was revealed Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey would be hitting shelves just 12 months after the series’ reinvention with Assassin’s Creed: Origins, many wondered if enough time was being given for a true step-up from the Egyptian adventure offered in 2017. Sure, the landscapes looked gorgeous and players were excited to be able to step into the world of ancient Greece as either a female or male protagonist, but had developers done enough to set this apart from their previous releases?
The short answer, after spending countless hours with the game, is yes. From its beautiful and sprawling open world, to the emotional and intense narrative woven throughout, Odyssey is one adventure we can see ourselves being embedded in for the foreseeable future. There’s just so much to do that we can’t ever see ourselves quitting. The main narrative of course is one that has a definitive end, but you could argue that the plot is the foundations of the game, with the true charm coming from elsewhere.
Odyssey's history is a fictional one, but with roots in truth. We go back over 2,000 years and find ourselves navigating an ancient Greece rife with chaos because of the Peloponnesian war. Here, Sparta and Athens are vying for control over the realm, and whilst our hero’s primary aim isn’t to help either side march to victory, we find ourselves becoming one with the workings - both physical and political - of the battle.
When it comes to combat, it does take a little bit of effort to learn how best to take on a group of adversaries. As is often the case with Assassin’s Creed games, stealth is the better option in tackling a bunch of enemies head-on, but sometimes it’s impossible to remain in the shadows and you’re forced to bring out your sword and shield. A little more fine-tuning and battles could feel as monumental as the rest of the game.
One part of Odyssey that doesn’t fall short however, is battles across the seas! For the first time since Black Flag, players are given the opportunity to stand at the helm of their own boat, commanding a crew that would quite literally die for them. The naval gameplay is without a doubt one of the finest experiences the game has to offer, and delivers on every level. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing your enemy’s vessel go up in flames, before ramming your ship’s front right through the middle of their sinking ship.
Another huge part of Odyssey is the risk Ubisoft took in bringing multiple dialogue choices to the majority of conversations you’ll find yourself a part of. Fortunately, their risks pay off and we are given the opportunity to really shape the way in which our hero will be viewed and treated by those around them. You can play with a conscience and spare the lives of innocents who were simply stealing a few bits of food to survive, or be the brutal mercenary you’re hired to be and strike down those who have wronged your clients without so much as a second thought.
Some of the decisions you make will actually shape your entire game, right up until the end. There are various ways your story could come to a close, and you'll realise upon completion exactly where you could have done things differently for a separate outcome.
Throughout Odyssey, you’ll find yourself hunted by a series of mercenaries when a bounty is placed on your head by an NPC. You can either evade the mercenaries whenever they come close, go to battle against them and hope for the best, pay off your bounty in the game’s menu, or even hunt down those who have placed a bounty on your head and bring the entire scheme to a halt. Each option comes with its risks, and sometimes when taking one merc on, you’ll suddenly be faced with three or four opponents all hoping to claim the money your head’s worth.
The overriding aspect running throughout Odyssey is one of fun. It’s rare to find yourself stuck in a moment that would have you wanting to turn your console off and give up, which is something to be said for a series in which there have been so many entries. This is without a doubt the finest an Assassin’s Creed game has been, and if this is the direction Ubisoft are going to take the franchise in the future, than we’re firmly strapped in for the ride.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. A code for the game on Xbox One was given to Female First in exchange for an honest and fair review.
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