One year after our Egyptian adventure, Assassin’s Creed moves to Greece and offers us one of the best experiences of the series.
Every adventure is an odyssey. Driven by the hunger for virtue and by the thirst for knowledge, as Dante wrote, we push ourselves towards the unknown and we face it. Sometimes, like Homeric Ulysses, we succeed in the enterprise. Sometimes, like Dante’s Ulysses, we sink into the abyss beyond the Pillars of Hercules. The videogame made it possible for us all to live an adventure without risking our lives, it made the Odyssey safe and allowed us to live ten, a hundred, a thousand. This is the magic of this medium of communication, and we must be happy to have reached this point, where video games are so rich in content to entertain us for days. And, before us, a horizon even more rosy.
In some ways, this is the path of the Assassin’s Creed series that, despite the strong narrative premise based on the brilliant trick of Animus, has allowed us to make countless journeys over time and to know places, people and stories that have remained in the heart . The pause for reflection of the Assassin’s Creed series in the period between Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and Assassin’s Creed: Origins allowed the series to go even further, introducing a real open world, a looting mechanism not too different from that of like, a renewed combat system and a general wave of freshness in the plot, no longer linked to the diatribe between Templars and Assassins but dedicated to the first wails of the cult that gives the title to the series.
With Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the game takes another step back and pushes us into Ancient Greece, at the time of the Peloponnesian Wars of the 4th century BC. The origin of the cult of the Assassins is still far in time, and the game puts us in the shoes of a man or a woman who act as the scales for the result of the conflict between Athens and Sparta. Precisely in this premise we find the first big news of the game: at the beginning of the adventure we are in fact called to choose between a male or female protagonist, Alexios or Kassandra, who accompanies us for the whole adventure without any possibility to change our choice . Hence the first, legitimate question: how does the choice of characters influence the game? In truth, the choice of the character determines the modification of the lines of dialogue for the grammatical concordance of the genre, some reaction of the characters and little else: Kassandra and Alexios are substantially treated in the same way by the world around them. This aspect is disappointing from many points of view: first, we would have expected some more marked reaction from the Athenians to an armed woman. In the same way and without spoiling the pleasure of discovering the plot, Kassandra’s choice makes the background of the character historically untrustworthy, educated as a soldier by his father even though there is a brother in the family. The presence of a woman educated as a soldier in Sparta of the fourth century is at least anomalous, and the game does nothing to justify it. In short, there is the feeling that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was modeled on the choice of the male character, which was then stuck to the possibility of playing in the role of a woman, ignoring all the historical, cultural and social inconsistencies. This, in our opinion, is a real shame, because the character of Kassandra could have offered extraordinary ideas. Still remaining on the gender issue, we were surprised to find a rather strong presence of female enemies in the game: pirate women, mercenaries and criminals, but finding women enlisted in the regular armies of the time is rather strange. Also in this case, therefore, we have the feeling that we have been forced – in our opinion useless – “pink quotas” in a game set in times when the very important issue of today’s gender gap was not even remotely contemplated. Having said that, at the end of the day it is details that have the sole guilt of annoying the most fussy, who have no repercussion in the gameplay and that, in the face of the majesty of the game we are about to describe, are just a discordant note in a splendid symphony.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is, beyond any doubt, the best chapter of the saga. It is from a technical point of view, with a map of enormous size, divided into several regions that require hours and hours of play to be explored thoroughly. It is from the point of view of content, with missions that appear and disappear, seemingly simple quests that open true parallel stories and, of course, that “odyssey” of our (or our) protagonist that accompanies the entire adventure. Pausing a moment on the main plot, we must admit that it does not start in the best way, with a rather obvious background and a continuation of the story that does not bode well. However, it takes only a few hours to understand how our role in the game is that of a pawn ready to make a lethal move on a chessboard, and soon we are loaded with responsibilities that seem to get out of hand. Our brave hero begins to have a greater self-awareness, and there is an interesting evolution of the character that goes on for many hours.
All of this is inlaid into a completely new dialog system for the saga. In fact, during the game, we are called to make multiple choices that influence the reactions of the characters around us and that, sometimes, can determine a completely different outcome for a mission. So this is a further step towards the role play after what was accomplished by Origins, and it is something new that we really appreciated. In some cases, in fact, it is impossible to interrupt a dialogue with a fight, to push our interlocutors to take advantageous or disadvantageous actions and even to push them to fall in love with us. In the game there are in fact some interactions of a romantic / sexual kind, without limits of orientation and that can give rise to some advantages regarding our adventure.
Another aspect closely related to the dialogues is given by a particular game mode selectable at the beginning of the adventure. The previous Assassin’s Creed, in fact, pushed us to complete dialogues to get a placeholder on the map to reach; through this particular mode, in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey you can choose not to reveal any placeholder for the missions, leaving the player the burden of acquiring information on the location of the next step of each quest through the dialogues. We must, in short, question the characters and analyze the environment to know where to go: this is the key to the odyssey of Alexios and Kassandra, and in general we are really pleased that the developers have thought to introduce this type of game that makes it all less obvious at the cost of a slowdown (for the truth appreciated) in the progression.