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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Excellent story, great combat

Screen cap from Assassins Creed Odyssey

Screen cap from Assassins Creed Odyssey  

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey lets you play as a Spartan, in a sprawling role-playing saga

Black Flag, Syndicate and Origins all hit the right notes when it came to the Assassin’s Creed Series. One with incredible ship battles, the other with a strong and lovable female protagonist. Finally, Origins, which took the series deep into role-playing territory and succeeded; with a massive game world, an almost magic realist art style, seasonal content and an excellent setting and main character. This set the bar high for the next Assassin’s Creed, which is good, because Odyssey combines all the best parts of Black Flag, Syndicate and Origins into one frankengame set in a time period we’ve wanted for a long time, the age of the Spartans.

What’s it about?

Character capture from Assassins Creed Odyssey

Character capture from Assassins Creed Odyssey  

“We will fight a battle the world will remember,” are the last words we hear from King Leonidas, who we briefly play as in the opening of Odyssey. While we all remember what his fate was, it’s the tip of his spear that lives on, finding its way into the hands of his descendant. As Alexios or Kassandra, depending on which gender you choose to play as, you get to wield the spear of the great Spartan king. Set in ancient Greece at the cusp of the great Peloponnesian War, which saw Athens clash with Sparta in a costly civil war, you play a fictional part in this piece of history.

This is where your story begins: as a child of a great Spartan general, who was orphaned and left for dead, and has grown up and must now discover his/her heritage as the clouds of war loom ever so close. Alexios and Kassandra are mercenaries who start with simple paid hit jobs, moving on to larger contracts on both sides as the war rages on. Both the characters have their own distinct roguish personalities, but one can’t help liking the strong Kassandra. Like its name, the game unfolds like a Greek epic that has all the vital elements of love, greed, money and power in the backdrop of war. As you travel across a massive game world that recreates one of the most beautiful places on Earth, both on land and sea. Each of your choices has real consequences. Choose to kill the wrong person or show a bit of kindness to someone in need and it could either bite you in the back later or be a boon to you.

How does it play?

Where Origins just stepped into the blood-filled waters of role-playing games, Odyssey takes the long, deep plunge, embracing it fully. Taking a leaf from the BioWare playbook, you get to forge Alexios and Kassandra into three classes: Assassin, Hunter and Archer. This time around, you can also shape their personalities with dialogue options with several non-player characters. It’s also refreshing that you now have your very own romance options with the same or different sex. So you can finally have that Greek romance you’ve always wanted.

Screen cap from Assassins Creed Odyssey

Screen cap from Assassins Creed Odyssey  

However, it’s the game world you will fall in love with; set in beautiful, lush, sprawling Greek Islands. An open world that is filled with quests, encounters as well as things to do and people to meet and kill. In a departure for the series, rather than stop you from killing innocents like previous games, your actions fill up a notoriety meter, and if you’ve been too naughty, a high-level mercenary much like Origin’s Phylakes, will be dispatched after you. There’s also a stealth mechanic here, much like The Elder Scrolls games, which works well, though it’s so easy to steal stuff by mistake, raising the naughty meter.

Character capture from Assassins Creed Odyssey

Character capture from Assassins Creed Odyssey  

The fighting system from Origins has been improved, and you will quite literally get a ‘kick’ out of it. This time around, you have four slots for power moves and one of them is the legendary ‘This is Sparta!’ kick from the movie 300, which sends enemies flying several feet, and then you let the game’s physics do the rest.

The Conquest battles are largely inspired from Dynasty Warriors games, where you play a hero unit with your own little army, as you use these special moves to take down several foes, thinning the herd. In addition to that, the game lets you take to the emerald waters of the Aegean Sea, waging naval battles against enemy ships. If you were a fan of both Assassin’s Creed III and Black Flag’s naval battles, then you will feel at home here. As you pilot Adrestia, find crew, upgrade her to be a formidable battleship.

With all the new elements, it still remains at heart an Assassin’s Creed game. With the familiar parkour traversals as well as the honed-to-perfection stealth mechanic that lets you survive the truly tough encounters. The ‘eagle drone’ from Origins makes it way back into Odyssey, providing you eyes in the sky, and it’s especially peaceful just flying around the map. It’s worth a mention that Odyssey has added an ‘exploration’ setting, that allows you to navigate your way throughout the world without much hand-holding. This requires you to carefully listen to dialogues for clues as to where you need to be and then consult the map to locate your quarry the hard way. I tried that and it was so refreshing, as on my way I experienced several smaller encounters that I would have completely missed.

Screen cap from Assassins Creed Odyssey

Screen cap from Assassins Creed Odyssey  

On the surface, Odyssey feels like a reskin of Origins, with a lot of reused models and assets. Yet it does a great job of capturing the spirit of the setting, like Origins did. Ancient Greece is a land lush with flowers, as giant statues of the pantheon of gods pepper the islands. The Athenians and Spartans look the part, with detailed armour and clothing. The voice-acting though is quite bad, with a strange quasi-Spanish accent that passes for spoken English in place of whatever ancient Greek tongue that was used then. There were also several bugs, but that’s expected from any open-world game on first launch. For those history buffs who don’t like fighting, there’s a Discovery mode, which débuted in Origins. Considering all the research and graphical work that went into the game, this mode lets you experience an interactive walk through that time period.

Should you get it?

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is filled with easily hundreds of hours of content that’s waiting to be discovered. With an excellent story and great combat, it’s a solid entry into the Assassin’s Creed series.

The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 10:31:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/gamespot-assassins-creed-odyssey-greek-lightning/article25095881.ece

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