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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey In-Depth Analysis

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the 11th entry in the series. It was released in October 2018, a year after Origins for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Its season pass comes with Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered which is how I experienced 3. I have a lot to talk about, so let’s go.

A Tale as Old as Time, but Like, Older Time

Layla is back, and this time working with the Assassins. She has been put with Victoria Bibeau (fellow ex Abstergo employee), Kiyoshi Takamura, and Alannah Ryan. Through the writings of Herodotus, they’ve discovered Leonidas’ spear, and now get to choose between living through the lives of Alexios or Kassandra. I played as Kassandra, and she’s the canon choice for Odyssey so that is who I’ll be talking about the most.

Kassandra’s story starts out quite simply. The spear of Leonidas is broken, and she’s being attacked by thugs. She dispatches them easily and is greeted by one of her closest friends, Phoibe (pronounced Phoebe), who definitely doesn’t die later for Kassandra’s character development. The setting of this opening section is Kephallonia, a small, impoverished island in the Greek world of 431 BCE. That’s right, we’ve done the time warp again and we are even further into the past.

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The spear of spiciness that started it all (Source)

Phoibe tells Kassandra to go see Markos, the man who took her in after her tumultuous past because he now owns a vineyard. Seeing as how most of the island is either in poverty or the gang, Kassandra is understandably upset. She confronts Markos, plays along with his dastardly scheme to get money, confronts, and kills the Cyclops (leader of said gang). In the process, she shoves his expensive fake eye (cyclops, one eye, it’s very clever) into the rectal cavity of a passing goat, and gains a ship with a crew. Then the title card plays as we sail off into the sunset.

And that’s all in the first hour or so of a 50+hr game. The story is dense and packed to the brim with important events, and I’m going to have to really condense it down and summarise it to stop this being way too long. Not only is the story long, but it has an effect on the future present, something that hasn’t happened since AC4! Kassandra has a real effect on the world at large.

Let’s Get Condensed

Kassandra is up against an even earlier sect of the Order of Ancients, and an even bigger one at that. She follows the story quests to find some of them but for the most part, she has to find them herself. And to finish the main storyline you don’t have to kill them all, but if you want the full story you will finish them off. A big player in the cult is Alexios, now called Deimos, but if you make the right choices he becomes Alexios again.

Kassandra embroils herself in local politics, and waxes poetic with Sokrates (yes, the Sokrates from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure). Using her connections to help find the cult members, most of them being in positions of power. She kills her way through the cult, makes some tough decisions (to kill or not to kill, to bone or not to bone, that kind of stuff), and Phoibe gets herself involved with the leader of Athens and his wife Aspasia.

Kassandra is against it but is also like ‘Hey, she’s a big girl, I’ll keep and eye on her,’ I’m sure that will go well.

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And how’d that go for you? (Source)

It doesn’t, Phoibe gets killed by the cult. And you better believe it develops Kassandra as a person, she has a new found resolve to destroy the cult and save what family she has left.

Family Ties

Kassandra loses friends, gains friends, loses them too, and then gets to confront Alexios. Now, to get the best ending (in my opinion) you have to a series of things. You have to spare the Wolf of Sparta at the start of the game (He tried to throw Alexios off a cliff and actually just throws Kassandra off it, cults, amiright?), you have to choose not to kill his son and also tell him to reconcile with his son, you have to tell your mother Myrrine about them still being alive, and then you have to spare Alexios. If you do all of that over the course of the game, you end up with this really nice scene of a family made whole again. Also, you get the 4 best generals for your ship.

And then credits roll and it’s over.

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The staff of Hermes and triangle man (Source)

But it isn’t! Kassandra works her way through the rest of the cult and discovers that Aspasia is the leader of the cult. Dun dun duuuunnnnn! Aspasia can either be killed or spared, as the architect of everything bad the cult did, I chose to kill her, and that’s the end of the cult. For now.

DLC Boogaloo Part 1

Kassandra finds her real dad Pythagoras (yes, the Pythagoras from the triangles) who has kept himself alive with the Staff of Hermes, an Isu artifact. Kassandra proves herself by breaking the seal to Atlantis (yes, the Atlantis from pop culture). To break the seal she has to beat four mythical creatures: a Cyclops, a Sphinx, a Minotaur, and Medusa (insert a reference to medusa in pop culture here). She does it and Pythagoras grants her the Staff of Hermes, killing himself in the process. Fast forward to the future present, and Layla has found Atlantis, and who else would be there but Kassandra with the Staff of Hermes! Kassandra gives it to Layla with the expectation that Layla will try and balance the world.

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The Sphinx, my favourite character model maybe ever (Source)

Which is interesting. Kassandra isn’t an assassin, she’s a Misthios, a mercenary along the same lines as Bayek. She sees the order and the chaos in the world, and wants the world to be balanced between the two. Layla as an assassin, who was a templar, has seen both and prefers the chaos to the order.

Inside the staff lives a construct of the Isu Aleithia, she starts calling Kassandra the Keeper and Layla the Heir of Memories. That’s all we get for the moment.

DLC Boogaloo Part 2

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Legacy of the First Blade promo (Source)

The Legacy of the First Blade introduces us to one of the very first assassins. His name is Darius, and he’s on the run from Persia and the Order of the Ancients with his son Natakas. Kassandra kills more cult members, has a weird love-hate relationship with Aiantides, and also falls in love with Natakas. They start a family together and have a son named Elpidios. Elpidios gets kidnapped, Natakas dies, he gets avenged, Darius and Kassandra go their separate ways with Darius taking Elpidios to safety in Egypt. Elpidios goes on to have a child who has a child and so on and so forth until Aya from Origins is born and gets the Assassins going.

DLC Boogaloo Part 3

The Fate of Atlantis is long. Layla is being mentioned by Aleithia to Kassandra, and Kassandra is going through a personalised simulation of the afterlife to show Layla the secrets of the Staff of Hermes. Part one takes Kassandra to the fields of Elysium, a sort of almost heaven led by Persophone. Things happen, and she helps the humans start a rebellion against Persephone before she kills Hermes, learns more about the staff, and then goes to war with Persephone. Persephone is all like “Nuh-uh, I ain’t dealing with this, go fight my dog” And Kassandra gets slapped down into the depths of Hades.

Part two takes place with Torment of Hades, and it, simply put, sucks. All fire, brimstone, poison, and general yuckiness, but not in a fun or interesting way. She works for and against Hades, meets some old faces, fights some old faces, fights legendary warriors, saves Phoibe from the Cyclops, and learns more about the staff.

Fate of Atlantis
Fate of Atlantis Promo (Source)

Hades vaguely says if she recruits the legendary warriors to guard his gates he’ll help her. Well, psych! He wants Kassandra to guard one of the gates. But, of course, Kassandra beats Hades, and Poseidon takes her to Atlantis. In the present future, Layla gets pulled out of the animus by Victoria who’s all ‘You’re killing yourself!’ and Layla is all ‘Nuh-uh! Gimme my Staff!’ and kills Victoria with the staff. Aleithia is all ‘I don’t really want you to help me anymore… that wasn’t very cash money of you…’ to which Layla says ‘Pretty pleeeease?’ and so into part three, we go.

Kassandra goes to Atlantis in part three, Poseidon makes her Dikastes of the realm, essentially judge, jury, and executioner. Kiyoshi and Alannah aren’t happy that Layla killed Victoria, the magnetic field around Earth is getting stronger due to the events of AC3, and Layla gets assigned to Rebecca and Shaun from other games. The Staff gets sealed away so Aletheia can’t mess with Layla’s head, and it all leads to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.

Game Mechanics

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Boats boats boats! (Source)

Adrenaline has been improved immensely, the levelling system lends itself to permanent buffs or usable skills. The skills get mapped to a combination of buttons on a controller, and use an amount of adrenaline per use. The skills are in three categories: Hunter, Warrior, Assassin (or ranged, melee, stealth). Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke. It’s a lot more involved than in Origins, and the Atlantis DLC makes improvements to many of the usable skills.

Swords now get paired with the broken spear so you’re always fighting with both hands. All bows take the same arrows, with there being several variants of the normal arrow: fire, poison, stun, explosive, and death.

Travel is the same as in Origins only this time, no camels are available. The Adrestia is Kassandra’s ship and it’s around the whole game which brings back the fun naval sections of AC3, 4, and not Rogue. There are more things to climb this time around, and it’s worth using them to your advantage.

Things Done Right

The Greek world is huge, and it’s all one map. And they used all of it. There are very few places in ancient Greece I didn’t spend a large chunk of time in because the map was utilised to it’s fullest. The few places I didn’t go in the main game were visited in the Legacy of the First Blade. It’s a thing of beauty when Assassin’s Creed uses the whole map.

The cult has been integrated perfectly into the game world. The cult map is huge, there are 7 branches of the cult, each with a different focus in the world, and a unique leader. Alexios is the 8th leader but he’s a lone force. Each cultist you kill gives a clue to the leader of the branch and potentially a clue to another cultist. Each leader gives a clue to finding Aspasia. They also each drop a golden triangle which can be used to upgrade the spear of Leonidas which upgrades its damage output and the amount of adrenaline Kassandra has available. It’s so satisfying finding cultists and systematically working your way through them all. And it’s entirely possible to accidentally find one, that’s how well integrated they are to the world.

The Greek world is at war. Athens against Sparta. Kassandra gets to pick and choose who she wants to fight for, and each area can be controlled by Sparta or Athens depending on how you feel at the time. This is affected by clearing out forts, burning war supplies, stealing wealth, and/or killing the leader of the area. Once it’s weakened enough a war can be fought with the victors gaining control. It’s well-integrated, and gives you a reason to take out the forts.

The Legacy of the First Blade is fantastic. It contains more cultists to find, a compelling story, a direct link between games, and character development. It has it all.

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WAR! Y’know, what is it good for? (Source)

Bit of a Shame Really

The Fate of Atlantis is… okay. It’s long and drawn out. In Elysium, you have to completely clear Persephone’s control over the three main areas which takes forever, and the layout of Elysium makes traversing it tedious. The characters are annoying, and nothing Kassandra does really matters. I tried to make both sides like me, and it didn’t matter, there was still a war, both sides want us gone and we move on to Hades.

The Torment of Hades is even worse, a bland landscape with lots of washed-out greys and browns, and a progression barrier between you and the main quest. You have to find all the pieces to a specific armour set to be able to traverse the world as if you were dead. This means changing armour every time you have to go through a fog door, which adds more tedium to an already tedious experience. Hades is awful, he’s quiet, shows up when convenient, and tries to be all villainous but just comes across as a jerk.

The Point

The point of Odyssey was to get the story moving again, and get the past Assassins affecting the future present again. No more plotlines that don’t go anywhere, no more hunts for artifacts that can’t be found at the end of it. The story is moving again, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it’s going.

Summary

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a fantastic game. I genuinely had a good time with it. The main game and Legacy of the First Blade are honestly so much fun, and they add enough to do that I didn’t miss anything from the old games. It has set a new standard for future games. I place it at 2nd, Black Flag will always be my favourite, but Odyssey is a close second for everything it did right.

PS

So, here I am, at the end of this insane binge journey I sent myself on at the start of the year. There have been highs, there’s been Rogue… I mean lows, and it’s all been worth it. To those reading, thank you for coming along, I hope your appreciation for the series has changed as mine has.