Assassin’s Creedy: Odyssey was originally released in 2018 and has been added to Xbox Game Pass. It was one of my favorite games of the past generation, so I wanted to take a look back at just what made this game so special to me. It takes place in Ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian War, and you can choose to play as either Kassandra or Alexios. Spartan-born but Athenian raised you’re caught in the middle of this struggle between two nations. It is the most satisfying power fantasy yet in the long-running AC series and lives up to its name with an epic set of campaigns.
Odyssey begins with a choice. You can be Alexios or Kassandra a pair of siblings who play the same, but their personalities and voices are very different. Alexios has a deep, base-filled voice that I found hard to take seriously despite it being well acted overall. Kassandra is probably my favorite protagonist in any video game, ever. Not only is her writing fantastic but the job the voice actress does is impeccable. She is hilarious, clever, and smart as hell. The story begins with you living as a Misthios (mercenary) on a small Athenian Island. Quickly the story shifts to a grand and epic tale spread across multiple paths. From your character’s family to the fate of the war between Greece and Sparta, and even the fate of the entire world itself. Layla is back from AC: Origins and her scenes feature better writing and bigger odds this time.
This game is massive, though if you have played the more recent AC: Valhalla it isn’t nearly as big as that game. A full playthrough will run you roughly 50 or so hours if you play on normal difficulty and in discovery mode. This mode only offers up hints of where most quest objectives are located by giving you clues to check on the map. If you prefer a more direct approach you can choose to use a direct waypoint system as well. The clues are quite good though, and I enjoyed the game’s exploration more when I was able to more freely find where I needed to go and boy are there a lot of places to go. The map in Odyssey is enormous with both huge landmasses and tons of open sea to traverse.
Thanks to the power of modern hardware once you’ve unlocked enough fast travel spots you can bounce around the entire place far more quickly than with the previous generation’s hardware. Load times that used to be well over a minute are now ten to fifteen seconds at the most. This is very much a Ubisoft “map game” so know what you’re getting into ahead of time. I always like to keep things as spoiler-free as possible so I’ll keep it short. You will meet a lot of the era’s most famous people but they never feel like they dominate the story. Your Eagle Bearer mercenary is a vital cog in this game world and your choices will dictate who lives and who dies.
There is a lot of inspiration here from the Witcher 3, and your dialogue choices can lead to romance, death, victory, and failure. I got lucky and kept everyone alive that I wanted to during my initial playthrough, but with the power of Google, you should feel free to double-check and make sure you choose wisely as there is no going back (outside of save scumming) if you make a mistake.
The Power of A God
One area where Odyssey differs greatly from other Assassin’s Creed games is how unbelievably powerful your character can become. There are in-game lore reasons why and I freaking love the power fantasy here. The hidden blade wasn’t invented yet, that happened during Origins, so instead you have the broken-off tip of King Leonidas’ spear. It helps you have super-human abilities such as teleporting and causing giant energy bombs to explode when you slam the ground. It’s dumb, overpowered, and incredibly satisfying to use.
If you’ve played Immortals: Fenyx Rising you’ll see a lot of that game’s ideas here in early forms. There is a massive leveling tree that lends to player choice in a clearly defined and easy-to-understand setup. As you unlock abilities you can assign ranged ones to your left trigger and warrior/assassin ones to your left bumper. From bull rushes to Spartan kicks, and manually controlling your arrows the powers are a ton of fun. Everything works off an energy meter that builds quickly during combat and the right bumper and right trigger combination attacks that vary per weapon are accompanied by (sometimes overly long) killer animations.
The combat in the game is supremely satisfying, though you will need to master the equipment system to get the most out of it. There are a variety of legendary sets that help with specific focuses such as 50% more Assassination damage which is one of the few ways your base stealth attacks can one-shot a tougher enemy. I ended up sticking with an all-around 30% damage boost one known as the Demigod set. There is a crafting/upgrade system that can be quite steep monetarily to constantly use so make sure you choose wisely on what you want to keep using as your character level rises. There is also going to be a lot of ship-based combat which is also tied to a long and grind-filled progression. I find it a lot of fun personally so I didn’t mind, but it does end up being a big part of the game so you’ll want to know that going in.
One thing I don’t like is how slow the non-gold edition character leveling is. Infuriatingly there is a microtransaction tied to how much XP you earn and the system is pretty grind-heavy if you haven’t purchased it either directly or as part of the Gold Edition of the game. It feels like an embarrassing relic from the past for most companies, though with Ubisoft you never know. They do Series versions for free but still love their pay-2-skip mechanics in full-priced games.
The Power of Series X
AC: Odyssey was a great-looking game at launch, though it did run at only 30 frames per second on the Xbox One generation of consoles. Recently Ubisoft has patched the game up for the Series consoles and it now runs at what feels like a rock solid 60 fps while maintaining a high resolution. It looks fantastic with one of the best-looking and fully realized worlds in any game not called Red Dead Redemption 2. Kassandra and Alexios’ models are of a supremely high quality which holds true for the majority of the game’s main cast. There is a ton of variety in the locations you will visit, and if you dip into the game’s DLC the 2nd one takes you to perhaps my favorite setting in an AC game.
The voice acting varies from good to great with a lot of love given to the main characters though some of the side characters are either way over the top or use repeated actors too often. The music is excellent with a mix of new and old themes from the series being used. There is a lot of repetition in the OST as this is a 50+ hour game and the actual amount of unique music is roughly two hours long. It’s not a major issue but I did notice it by the latter half of my first playthrough.
Bug-wise the game is in good shape now five years after release, though the move to 60fps has led to some physics wonkiness. Floating NPCs, odd pathing, and the occasional hitch in performance didn’t ruin things though as the silky smooth framerate made both the ground and naval combat as good as ever.
This is one of my favorite games ever. Coming back to it for the 3rd time for this review has only reinforced that feeling. It’s gorgeous, well-written, has excellent combat, a ton of depth, and with it now being on Game Pass it is well worth giving it a try.
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X|
|Available on||Xbox, Playstation, PC|
|Release Date||October 5th, 2018|
|Rated||M for Mature|