Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is bloody brilliant. There’s the short version for those who couldn’t be arsed reading a review today. I know that goes against the norms of review writing because we want you to stay here and read the whole review. But you know what? Fuck that. Just go buy it and play it. The ten minutes you spend reading this review will be ten minutes you’ll be wasting not enjoying what is easily one of the best RPGs of the last 10 years.
I’ll admit, that the last few entries in Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series haven’t really been that exciting to me. Some odd choices, uninspired design, and a host of bugs, made the last few titles difficult to enjoy, despite some obvious advancements in the AnvilNext game engine. 2017’s Origins started to feel like it was fixing some of the issues of previous games. The game was amazing from a technological standpoint, but something about it just felt empty, hollow, lesser than the sum of its parts. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey feels like Ubisoft have finally solved that problem, among many of the others that have pushed me away from their big open-world sandbox games in recent years.
The game is, as usual, a technological marvel. As beautiful as it is vast and well polished. The thing is that’s something I expect from Ubisoft, so I didn’t really expect to be blown away by it. I wasn’t of course, because I’m here writing this now, but I was really amazed. Actually really very amazed indeed.
The graphics swing between really good and ‘is that a photo?’ in a way that instantly makes me feel empathy for my future self who will look back at this game in 20 years the way I look back at Final Fantasy 8 now. Final Fantasy 8 looked like real life to me in 1999, and now it looks like exactly 17 pixels in the vague shape of some stuff. There’s a certain volcano you can visit in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey that was easily one of the best looking areas I’ve ever seen in a video game. The textures and lighting are all perfect. There’s that old idea of ‘if you squint your eyes it looks real’. In that location, you barely need to squint. Maybe just like you’re slightly suspicious of a compliment.
The story is engaging and full of interesting, unique characters you really start to care about. It all feels connected and alive and flowing, where previous games have felt like a string of events just happening out of nowhere. And the voice acting sells it perfectly. It also bears mentioning that the game handles having a female and male protagonist perfectly. After playing as Alexios for about 10 hours I got curious as to how the story differs for Kassandra, the female protagonist. So I checked. It doesn’t. Not as far as I can tell. Kassandra is the same badass as Alexios with a different voice and character model. That’s it.
The world in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey itself feels dynamic and interesting and feels like it really changes with your choices. And there are so many choices to make, and things to do, that will all level you up, so you can just mess about doing whatever you want, and come back to the story any time. There are other mercenaries to hunt down and kill, so you can move up the ranks and get rewards. There’s an entire subset of other assassination targets to eliminate with rewards. There’s contracts, bounties, naval contracts, naval bounties, side missions, ruins to explore. Not to mention the faction wars that allow you to destabilise a region and then side with either faction to decide who controls it.
At one point I wondered, “Hey what’s with all these islands? I haven’t been to any of them yet.” So I undocked in my ship to head over and take a look, and the game must have been watching me through the same cameras that Facebook and Google use. Because a little box popped up that said, “Hey. Let me tell you about those islands, my dude. Man are you in for a fucking treat. Just head over there and you can level up some more, and do some exploring, and there are some extra little stories over there that you can check out.” And I headed over there, and man, I was in for a treat. I levelled up some more, and explored, and got to play through some extra stories that were just as high in quality as the main quest, but basically unconnected.
I could go on about it all day, and pick out so many little details to talk about, but there’s not much point in me writing any more anyway. I’m sure by now you’ve gone and bought Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and are playing it instead of listening to me gush on about it like a 17-year-old girl about her boyfriend Danny who has a tattoo. So I can really just say whatever I want here and no-one will read it anyway. Hello mum. I’m doing reviews. Check me out. Blah blah blah. You all smell funny. The end.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (PC)
Apparently, there isn’t really any 10s, but this is the best game I’ve played since The Witcher 3. If I never give anything a 10 then I may as well just make 9 the top score or whatever. Just deal with it okay. It’s not perfect but it is really good. OKAY?! Fine. No, I’m sorry for shouting. I’ve just been really stressed out at work.
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