Odyssey certainly seems a fitting name for this latest instalment of the Assassin’s Creed series. The sprawling world of Ancient Greece is not only large but filled with dangers to overcome.
Ubisoft’s latest delve in to the world of Assassins and Templars sees you choosing between two siblings, Kassandra and Alexios, a brother and sister from Sparta who are tasked with becoming the next Assassins after being left for dead as children. Despite Origins seemingly being a new start to the franchise and telling the story of the first assassins, Odyssey actually occurs some time before the Egyptian adventure, during the Polynesian war between Athens and Sparta. The war is cleverly intertwined with the siblings’ search for their family and answers over their abandonment, but nothing is ever black and white in this world, even the war.
What hits you first when starting out on this new journey is the need to explore and fend for yourself. While the game does ease you in to the fighting and stealth techniques, there’s a lot to learn and for once in the series, it doesn’t give you much of a helping hand on the map, forgoing the usual icons, that show you all the story-based quests and side quests, in favour of simple clues to help you find your own way in this huge world.
Thankfully, the base elements of fighting, exploring and stealth set out in Origins are still present and further improved upon here. While the map might be bigger and more opaque, the skills needed to travel and survive will feel familiar to those who played through the previous game. Layla Hassan returns in the present to continue the story of Assassin vs Templar, but that feels like the only real link between this and the previous games, possibly a good thing considering how bogged down in lore they were getting. Everything else here is new and Ubisoft have done well to add more RPG style elements like branching dialogue and even a little romance to the game.
Levelling up is expanded, too, and you’ll really need to pay attention to this if you want to stand any chance of fighting off some of the more skilled opponents. As an open world game, you’re free to choose missions that would put you up against far more powerful opponents than you, but it’s not going to be a pretty outcome for you if you do. This creates a far better sense of realism than just wading in to a fight regardless of the enemy or following a single linear story that doesn’t allow you to branch off. There are also plenty of side quests to complete to help you progress, some of which have interesting stories of their own but all of which help you to become a stronger, better equipped fighter.
This massive open world can feel a little overwhelming at times and there’s the danger of needing to grind to get enough skills in order to complete later missions, but with some interesting side quests, beautiful scenery and a main story that will make you want to see it through to the end, it’s well worth travelling on this particular odyssey.