Revisiting and re-reviewing "Assassin's Creed Odyssey"
My original review of "Assassin's Creed Odyssey" was shallow, incorrect, and dare I say it, misinformed. Time to justify that.
When I reviewed 'Assassin's Creed Odyssey' back in November of 2018, I called it an old-fashioned RPG. To me, the upgrading and character progression felt wildly unbalanced, and I even went as far as referring to its overall gameplay design as manipulative. Looking back at that review, I couldn't have been more incorrect.
For the past month, I've logged in more than twenty additional hours into 'Odyssey,' bringing my total playtime up to around thirty-five hours. In this time, I've defeated twenty Mercenaries, assassinated eight Cultists, and completed nearly three dozen side quests. Not only that, but almost every engagement I've had in the game, including the small and seemly unimportant ones, has entertained me. So, what exactly does that mean?
During my initial review, I didn't spend nearly enough time praising the world design. It is absolutely gorgeous, with sunlit beaches, bustling towns, sprawling forests, and ancient ruins to explore. What is even more surprising is that every inch of this world feels alive and richly detailed. Locations such as the Red Sea, the Petrified Temple, and Athens especially stand out, and I found myself going back to these locations over and over again just to take in the sights.
With this great amount of detail, Ubisoft has laid out hundreds of missions, each with a distinct flare. Even the simplest fetch quest is given a humorous or mystical touch, making it unique and memorable. I remember having to find ingredients to concoct a love potion for a man who was having trouble keeping up with his wife's sexual desires. Another mission had me searching for wolf intestines and bear scrotums. Yes, bear scrotums.
Other missions were just as entertaining, mainly due to the newly introduced dialogue trees. In my previous review, I mentioned that these choices in dialogue don't amount to much, and while this is still true, there are more options and effects than I first noticed. The further you progress in the game, the more your actions begin to matter. When you decide who lives and who dies, as well as who to lie to and who to speak the truth, little elements begin to shift. Some are small, yes, while other reflect your overall character. NPCs will occasionally remember how you previously acted, and others will alter your gameplay path entirely.
This leads to the game's expansive upgrade tree and character progression. The more time I've had to play with it, the more I've come to appreciate the choices 'Odyssey' provides. By focusing my skill tokens on assassin abilities, I've instinctually become a stealth player. I continue to increase my stats relating to stealth, which makes me a better assassin all together. With this choice, I'm still able to grow as a ranged and melee fighter. This is done through a process known as engraving, where you can enchant weapons and armor with additional stat boosts. These engravings are very rare, and over the course of the game, these will also increase in value. It's all very thought out, and continues to impress me with how many decisions I'm allowed to make.
The Cultist and Mercenaries are also well designed and much stronger than I previously remember. These foes test your combat skills, often forcing you to change up your normal play style in order to take them down. Cultists are typically guarded in fortresses, encouraging stealth gameplay, whereas Mercenaries are brutes who attack head-on. There are still some noticeable balance issues when it comes to the game's morale system, especially with regards to the Cultists and Mercenary interactions. However, these minor issues will fade the deeper you envelope yourself in the contracts and gameplay progression.
So, with all of that said, where does that leave my previous review?
While I don't encourage myself to change review scores, a time such as this demands it. The score no longer fits; it doesn't even come close. A 68 out of 100? Yeah, I don't think so. "Assassin's Creed Odyssey" is a game to marvel at, not tear apart. It pushes our understandings of the roleplaying genre, and in doing so, hints at a strong, bright, and stable future for the "Assassin's Creed" franchise.
- Final Thoughts -
Sometimes, first glances and impressions are deceiving. You see what you want to see, and at the time that I reviewed 'Assassin's Creed Odyssey,' I saw a game that needed major improvements. But that isn't the case - the only thing that needed to improve was my willingness to give the game a chance.
("Assassin's Creed Odyssey" image courtesy of Ubisoft)