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‘Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey’ further refines a previously stale franchise

‘Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey’ further refines a previously stale franchise

‘Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey’ further refines a previously stale franchise
October 10
19:29 2018

A frame from the newly-released “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.” Zach Helms

Let me start this review by saying I’ve played just about every console release in the “Assassin’s Creed” franchise. The series has seen great success with its authentic world design coupled with some well-written leading characters. It’s also seen some rather mediocre entries that have tarnished and derailed what made the franchise so great — feeling like an assassin.

While “Odyssey” has taken everything from previous titles and subtly reinvented much of the experience into a wildly open, systems-based RPG, I came out feeling like I’d played a really fantastic open-world period piece set during the time of war between Athens and Sparta, rather than an “Assassin’s Creed” game.

I think this game’s best quality is its detail and authenticity in its world. Greek and Mediterranean vernacular are peppered into the well-acted and well-accented voice performances, and I felt as though the performances added to a complex world full of recreated locales. I was constantly in amazement at how distinct this world is in comparison to the many other open-world games I’ve played.

Graphically this game sits somewhere in between the series’ 2015 title “Syndicate” and last year’s title “Origin.” The latter represented a bit of a reinvention of the series, tweaking existing gameplay, taking advantage of the newly accessible 4k capabilities of the new Xbox and PlayStation upgrades. “Odyssey” has taken that new formula and adapted it into a full-on RPG, with branching dialogue trees, some pretty subtle choice based gameplay and its biggest world yet. This is the biggest game in the franchise, and it makes sense it’s not as consistent or pretty as last year’s title.

After 11 titles, the series has managed to reinvent itself into one of the most addicting games I’ve played this year. On top of that, it’s taken what have been core gameplay tenants of some of the series’ standout titles and blended them near perfectly. Ship traversal and combat have been refined from 2013’s “Black Flag,” as well as a much heavier focus on weapon and armor stats from 2017’s “Origin.”

Its story is well-performed by voice actress Melissanthi Mahut, the playable female character. She brings a brash bravery and desire for adventure reminiscent of classic movies like “Jason and the Argonauts” and the more recent “Gladiator.” The other playable character is your brother, who plays an integral role in the story that I won’t spoil, and is not acted nearly as well. Dialogue often felt stilted when conversing with him.

One of the only complaints I had here is that it feels ambiguous in its themes. It doesn’t feel like an “Assassin’s Creed” game, as the story revolves around a character pre-existing the assassin’s order itself.

There is a slight dissonance between the gameplay and where the character is coming from. It’s taking gameplay that’s been contextualized in previous titles as prolific and masterful techniques and standardizing it in a game that’s not really about assassins. It makes the game better in terms of its gameplay but it creates some redundant plot holes. It’s a subtle annoyance to a long-time fan more than a problematic gameplay flaw.

It baffles me that this game is as slickly produced as it is. It’s huge and detail was throughout. The story is solid, but I didn’t touch on much of that because the draw of an “Assassin’s Creed” game is spending time in its re-imaginings of classical eras and settings. This game is about getting lost in a beautiful and deep world full of extremely varied activities and tasks for you to grind away at.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Featured Image: The latest addition to the “Assassin’s Creed” anthology hit the shelves on Oct. 5. The setting in “Odyssey” is reminiscent of Ancient Rome. Zack Helms

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Zach Helms

Zach Helms

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