If you want to throw an Assassin's Creed game set in ancient Greece, it seems practically to do that with the man who is most associated with Greek art, well kicks. Thus, the Assassin's Creed Odyssey begins with King Leonidas of Sparta fighting on Thermopylae, armed with his shield, his spear and his now famous Spartan Kick.
Seriously there is a feature in the game called Spartan Kick.
It's a heavy-and-cheek addition that is most welcome to everyone with a funny leg. Even though Odyssey has its fair share of serious moments, it's no problem to sprinkle some attracted levity to the whole mix to balance its heavier parts. It is also based on the ideas and the general mood of its immediate predecessor, which is a good thing. In my review of Assassin's Creed Origins, I felt that the game reinvigorated a franchise that began to feel a bit long in the tooth, thanks to its struggle enhancement and decision to make its adventure as good in Egypt's classic antiquity.
In the Odyssey case, it doubles down on Origins classic styling by moving the setting to ancient Greece. This time you have the choice of two main characters, the male rent soldier Alexios or his female counterpart Kassandra. Like someone who likes to play female characters in game for change in pace, I do not mind being able to do it in Odyssey – something I last experienced in an Assassin's Creed game when I played Liberation (pretty much the last AC game I played before Origins). Fortunately Kassandra is not only likable, but also happens with a well-written character. Having a protagonist like her definitely went a long way in making my long journey through Odyssey much more enjoyable. Despite Kassandra's sad and traumatic past, the female "misthios" has a surprisingly positive and optimistic attitude in general. Heaven knows how many games I've played as presented main characters who were unpredictable jerks because it was considered edgy. Instead of thinking it was cool, I just realized that I could almost beat them on my head with a turkey.
I also like the fact that Kassandra does not have a complication where she feels the need to overcompensate for the fact that she is a woman in a male-dominated profession (or in the world itself). She simply kicks off, gets results and goes about her business without worrying about it. Her more level and outward behavior is certainly a contrast from Origins Bayek, whose apparently quiet hiding a ticking bomb just waiting to explode from below. And I like Bayek as a sign, by the way.
As with Origins Egyptian premises, I enjoyed quite a lot of traveling through ancient Greece as a virtual tourist. Odyssey serves a great world for you to explore, which also includes large swamps in the Mediterranean. After eating and absorbing tons of information about ancient Greece and Greek mythology as a child, it was fun to go through the Odyssey's interpretation of these countries as well as the incorporation of some of the famous myths from the region. Delegation and delfiction, Odyssey does a good job of reporting these two separate realities in a coherent whole as you find yourself squatting towards more realistic human opponents for a moment and fighting mythological creatures next. You also see many references to figures like Odysseus, Achilles and other famous names from Ancient Greece, which helps to add a splash of Hellenic lore to the story.
Another thing I liked about Odyssey is the strong RPG atmosphere. This is expressed through various mechanisms such as skills training, continuous improvement of equipment and ability to make choices, not just for the main story but also in the terms of the site. I could not help but get some Mass Effect or Dragon Age nostalgia while playing it, which I consider to be a good thing. Some of these choices can also have consequences. As someone who likes to play my characters closer to the legitimate good side of the RPG coin, I tend to lean towards the side to save people like I did in an early part of the game when a plague caught the city of Kausos. Even as my mind believed that the priest had a point on how to make sure that the disease did not spread, I still decided to follow my heart and let people live. Many hours later, as I continued my adventure in a remote area, I notice that the plague from Kausos has spread elsewhere and causes a lot of death in the wake of my adoptive home for Kephallonia. The news bothered me and made me feel responsible for all the lives that were lost.
The choices you make also have consequences for the end you get. I do not want to spoil it for everyone, so the only hint I want to offer is that Odyssey is a game about family. Keeping that in mind during important points in the plot when you have to make a decision, you should be able to get the ideal result in the end.
Gameplay is meanwhile quite expansive, at least. It's not just about the world, which is quite big, but also your fighting and gameplay options. Exploration is still a big part of the game and it is easy to fall into the rabbit hole to explore every hook and crown offered for materials, tablets, equipment and missions. I do not even know how long it took me to get out of Kephallonia as I tried to search for each underground hole or climb on attractions like Zeus special package. Let's just say that the post office was not careful enough with one. That said, you can only go from one main assignment to the next and continue looking.
Fighting is meanwhile also quite flexible. Thanks to the changes introduced in Origins that make the game more fluid as opposed to the former QTE-based system, action lovers can go hard on that side of the tree if they do not want to deal with dirt so much. Conversely, you can invest in sneakier side of the opportunity tree, which requires a bit more work than classic AC games, but is still a viable way to play the game. Or you can make a combination and choose the essentials from the warrior, assassin and hunter page. Optional freedom is one of the things I like about the combat system, which you can cast to fit your own fighting style. You can also equip a number of moves with downsides that can help in combat. These include the ability to add poison to your attacks, another to heal a part of your health in a hug, and of course Spartan Kick, which doubles as a great recruitment tool if you want to take down enemies without killing them. In fact, my obsession with my ship is mainly composed of officers who used to be enemy generals or even city leaders who were murderers. Instead, I concluded that Spartan kicked them into my joy band, so to speak. One of the first was actually a Hotshot Athenian leader who was practically reduced to an unprotected pope outside the city's walls after I burned all his supplies and sabotaged the resources of his troops. When I had finished weakening and destabilizing his government, I simply went to his place, gave him a Spartan Kick for his problems and recruited him into my ship.
The same goes for the leader's favorite mercenary as well as some free agents who tried to collect bounties that were placed on my grade. Since recruitment still counts as a killing, I could beat my hardest opponents to valuable assets that helped me terrorize opponents at sea. It also made me like the mercenary mechanic, who would give you a good sum on your head if you do too many bad things like stealing in front of people or sinking merchant ships. The mercenary mechanic annoyed me initially because they would show up in the most irreparable times when I infiltrated a base or fight opponents. Now I only use mercenaries to fill my official ranger and deviate from their equipment for my personal use.
The sea fighting is by the way quite fun and turns out to be a welcome diversion when I get a little exhausted by exploring on land. You can use archers and launch to soften your enemies or even use your own ship to hit their widths into submission. Depending on how you're done with your enemy, you can either get extra storage via ramp or gain access to enemy chests via boarding. You can also upgrade your ship by improving the defense, attacking injury or reloading to gain an added advantage in combat. Just be prepared to get a lot of wood, which you can harvest from the field, buy from smith or rock from the ocean. I gathered so much of the things I could only break if I saw another piece of Olive Wood. On a related note, boy, I wish we will get a new Skies of Arcadia game.
However, as much as I like Assassin's Creed Origins, it has a fair share of the issues. From a narrative perspective, Animus only feels the shoe horn. While it played a major role in the previous games, it feels like an add-on in the human body these days – something that probably plays a role (like storing good bacteria?) But is actually not so important in the big order of things. They just need to do something about it so it does not feel like it's all right, there is no reason. Reminders about the game's microtransactions also seemed a little annoying, but I never felt the need to buy equipment and other real money things to enjoy the game.
Instead, the bigger problem I had with Odyssey was its fault. Some are harmless, like people who float in the air or assume weird, unnatural bags. Others, however, are spill breakers, like falling through the ground and stuck outside the map. The fact that the game's auto save is a bit of salmon under points when you can not save manually means that you may have to play entire sequences or infiltrations if the game expires.
Early into my breakthrough, for example, I had to play the Cyclops match four times because the match would always go out when I killed him and started escorting Barnabas to safety. Twice, crashed game and uncertainty Spartan kicked me to the home menu without saving. The third time it glowed when I approached the last guard before the exit, which led to the game knocking down to almost a complete stop as you knocked Kassandra invisibly and put her in fire. Since I was worried that the entire sequence could be glitched based on my storage, I decided to try Kassandra out of the village so I could teleport somewhere and at least trigger auto save to create a new file. I led the burning and curse Kassandra with diving in nearby waters – a distance that would normally have taken a few seconds, but ended up taking several minutes due to the severe slowdown. This grateful doused fire just before her HP was reduced to zero, and I then guided Kassandra towards the exit. Once she landed, but the fire status triggered again, and I desperately tried to get her until the end of fast travel was available again. I pushed to the nearest viewpoint with the game still glitching, but auto save finally triggered at some point. I loaded the autosave and it sent me back to the fortress just after Cyclops were fighting instead of it, so I did not have to take him down again. I finally got Barnabas to safety and could continue my adventure.
It's just one example of the many bugs and glitches I experienced while playing this game, which made me paranoid while I was saving all the time. Fortunately, the errors were only minor setbacks at worst and did not result in any catastrophic, lost files. As such, they do not severely discourage the extensive experience gained by Odyssey, which is still fun. It's just about the way Odyssey is put together that makes it fun to play or just watch. Even now, my brother – who looked at me a nice part of my game – still asks me when I play the "Spartan game" again. It's especially fun when he starts to drive backwards during infiltration, mercenaries and match fighting. I swear, the guy sounds more stressed than I am when I get the corner or my ship gets burned after being doubled by pirates.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey builds on the strength of the incredible origins while setting you on an excellent adventure in yet another great old setting. Bugs and glitches are a bit too common for my taste and microtransaction reminders can be annoying, but not too in your face. All in all, fun match, an interesting story and a similar and well written protagonist (Kassandra, in my case) makes Assassin's Creed Odyssey a worthwhile and addicting addition to the long-term franchise.
Technobubble covers games, gadgets, technology and all things geek. Follow Technobubble Poobah Jason Hidalgo's Shenanigans at Twitter @ jasonhidalgo or his Tabiasobi Youtube Channel .