Before reading this, you may want to read my initial thoughts on the game. I created a new feature called Early Thoughts and it can be found right here.
This the first Assassin’s Creed game that I have sat down and played through to completion. There is something different about this game compared to all other Assassin Creed games and that can be taken as positive or a negative depending on what you’re looking for.
At the beginning of the game you get to chose between 2 protagonists, 1 is a woman named Kassandra and the other is a man named Alexios. Depending on who you chose, the other does end up playing a role in the story. I chose Kassandra but as far as I understand, narratively it doesn’t matter which one you chose, it’s the same story the other thing that changes is you play as a male or female and then obviously you have a male or female voice actor/actress. I chose Kassandra because I could not stand the voice actor for Alexios, I can confidently say that if I had not done a little research before playing this game and chose Alexios, I don’t think I would have finished the game. I ended up playing 60+ hours of this game, no way would I have made more than 10 with Alexios.
The story is nothing special but it is a decent tale of a Greek mercenary trying to reconnect with her (or his) family. Although the story doesn’t do anything groundbreaking, the game does have enough interesting characters to at least keep the story entertaining. As you progress through the story it does somewhat branch off into what I would say is 3 parts. The main part is what I said earlier about rekindling the family which has its moments, another part is the cultist which I will get into in a bit and then there is a 3rd part involving mystical beasts.
The mystical beasts, there is not a lot I can say about them without spoiling. So all I can say is, there are 4 mystical creatures, they’re all tied to Greek Mythology and that story arc is the weirdest but also the most interesting. Chances are, you will end up doing this in the “post-game” just because the main story requires you to be level 43 where the mystical creature content will require you to be level 50. It is important to note that getting to level 50 is very time-consuming. It took 63 hours to get there, there are parts where I could have been a little efficient but regardless I would say minimum time spent to get to level 50 is probably around 50 hours. So prepare yourself, this is a long game.
Going back to the other story arc, the Cultist. This is revealed somewhat early on of what this is. Essentially the cultist is the games main villain organization. It’s a bad group of people that are trying to take control of the Greek world. Your responsibility is simple, hunt them down and kill them. Some of the cultist’s do require you to be level 50 (or close to 50) to fight so this is something I recommend this is something to work on in conjunction with the main story arc and then use the cultist as a means to level up to level 50 so you can finish up this story arc and then also the mystical creature story arc.
In a game that feature multiple ancient Greek figures including Alcibiades, Socrates, Herodotus, Pericles, Aspasia, and even Leonidas makes an appearance. My favorite character ended up being the protagonist Kassandra. I know it’s cliche to pick the protagonist but between the way the character is written and then also the voice actress, Kassandra is one of my favorite characters this year. Although I would not describe Kassandra as a funny character, she did have a couple funny quips that made me chuckle.
Puzzles in this game are severely lacking, in my 60-hour playthrough I can think of 3 puzzles and one of them is little non-traditional. The other 2 are moving mirrors around so light can bounce off of them. The lack of puzzles is disappointing but then also the lack of puzzles is equally disappointing.
Although the game is devoid of puzzles and the story is lacking, the strength of this game is the gameplay itself.
- Traversal- Love it, I can climb any mountain, any wall, anything. All that was required was me holding down right trigger (or R2 for PS4 users). Unlike games like Horizon Zero Dawn where you have to find the right spot to climb up or Zelda Breath of the Wild where you have a stamina (eww, stamina meters are the worst). You don’t have to worry about anything, you just climb. Sometimes you get into areas you shouldn’t but the game does a good job where random enemies don’t just attack you. The only time you’re attacked is if you provoke enemies or go into their area.
- Mount-Your horse in the game is Phobos, first, off I am saddened to inform you that I ran into multiple trees in play through. So the game is very unrealistic. On a more serious note, normally I hate mounts in video games but I was into the horse in this game. It just made moving around the world faster, also having the option of being able to call Phobos at any time just by holding down the down button on the D-Pad is a great feature.
- Ikaros- The games main animal companion is an eagle named Icaros. Icaros works as your scouting party or in a more traditional video game sense your binoculars. If you’re going into an enemy fort, you call Ikaros and he (I don’t know it’s a he or a she, just going to call him he because that’s what I did during the game. My own lore is, Icaros is a male eagle and Phobos was a female horse.) flies over the fort and he tags enemies and various items in the fort. Very useful, I used Ikaros in almost all situations.
- Ship- I saw other reviewers comparing this game to Black Flag, I can’t do that because I didn’t play Black Flag. All I can say is, the game has a ship and it’s very important. In case you’re unfamiliar with Greek Landscape, the mainland is primarily all mountains and the other major part of Greece is islands surrounded by the ocean. There are a lot of little islands in this game and the only way to reach them is via ship. Somewhat early on in the game, I went around to all of the Islands, synchronized the fast travel spots. That’s one thing I like to do in open-world games, early on open up the world and activate all of the fast travel locations so when it comes to story missions I can just crank them out with relative ease.
- Ship Combat- The game not only has a ship but it has ship combat. The combat is simple you try to lower the enemies ship down to 0 HP. You do this by ramming your ship into theirs (that’s how they did in the Ancient times), also you can shoot arrows, javelins (basically spears that are specifically designed for throwing) and fire at the enemy ship. Once you have the enemy ship down to 0 HP you then have 2 options. You can ram it again with cleves the ship in half, you get experience and you go on your merry way. The option is to board the other ship. You then have to fight hand to hand combat with other enemies on the ship. You get more experience doing this, you also get more loot but it does take a lot longer. I didn’t care for the ship combat, didn’t engage with it too much unless I had to, to progress the story.
- Combat- This is hands down my favorite part of the game. The combat is so much fun and I’m going to break down into 3 categories which the game does as well.
- Melee (Warrior)- The melee combat is kind of a perfect blend of hack and slash and more deliberate. It is much more free flowing and faster than a game like the Witcher 3 but it’s not as fast and frantic as Shadow of Mordor which is similar to Arkham combat. The game does have a parry, I never used it. I preferred to use the dodge which if you dodge perfectly which in my 60+ hour playthrough I never quite figured out the perfect dodge window. I would dodge a lot and sometimes I would get the perfect dodge which your reward for the perfect dodge reminds me a lot of Breath of the Wild where time slows down and you can attack the enemy 3-4 times freely.
- Stealth (Assassin)- The stealth is fantastic for 3 reasons. Sometimes it’s fun to sneak around and kill enemies, the game is also very forgiving where enemies are kind of dumb (actually they’re very dumb) and finally worst case scenario if you get caught. Then you just have fight enemies with the melee combat which is always fun.
- Bow (Hunter)- I personally love using a Bow in video games. It’s a major reason why I hold Horizon Zero Dawn in such high esteem. I am pro-Bow. Now, of course, using a bow depends on if it’s good or not. I can confidently say that this is great.
- Abilities- The final aspect of the game are the in-game abilities. The abilities are unlocked by playing through the game, leveling up and getting a skill point. Each aspect of the combat has it’s own skill tree and therefore it’s own abilities. The abilities are fun to use and they’re a fantastic way to make you feel like you’re breaking the game’s combat. For me personally, that’s great, my favorite part of RPG’s is taking the time and leveling and then feeling brokenly stupid. Without these abilities, I never would have felt that way and not had as much fun.
The game does include several bosses. Most of which are pretty forgettable and fairly easy if I’m going to honest. That can not be said about the mystical creatures, those are a lot harder and one of them is kind of difficult. I struggled against the one, it took me 15 minutes to get through it.
Another aspect of this game that I absolutely adore is the world itself. There is just something about being in Ancient Greece that I am just very into. The number 1 reason why I ended up playing this game for as long as I did was that I just wanted to stay in this world for as long as I could. The reason why I keep emphasizing how long I played this game is because I am not the type of person who likes long games. To me, 35 hours is too long. The perfect length to open world game is 20-30 hours. It’s just the right amount of time to enjoy the world but not get sick of it. For whatever reason, I never got sick of this game. I just wanted to experience everything the game had to offer.
Music/Sound Design/Voice Acting
The music is more for setting a tone, it’s barely noticeable. Sound design, it’s one of those things that’s vitally important to a video game and when done right you don’t notice it. It’s when done wrong, that’s when you say yikes.
The final part and often times the most important aspect of the sound in the game is the voice acting. Now I talked about this earlier, I hate Alexios. Just the worst where the voice actress for Kassandra was phenomenal. She nailed it, you can just tell that she had fun with the role but when the tone of the game got serious for one reason or another. She nailed those points as well. One of the best performances of the year, I hope to see more of Melissanthi Mahut. I have no idea how to pronounce the name, otherwise, I would provide a phonetic.
Now it’s time to get into the truly unfortunate part about this game, it has some major issues mechanically. As I was playing through the game, the game hard crashed a grand total of 7 times. The odd thing is, it was never during combat when there were a ton of units on the screen, it was when I was just running around the world or during cutscenes which I think is particularly bad. Which was unfortunate because, during the games most touching moment, the game crashed right in the middle of the cutscene so I had to sit through the whole thing again and its hard to enjoy that touching moment when you’re annoyed that you already sat through the part.
I wish I could stop there but there were also bugs that I encountered as well. One of them I was hopping into my ship and then I got stuck in this falling animation and eventually, my character just died. I had to load a prior save which set me back a few minutes. After that, before I hopped onto my ship, I always quick saved so that way if the bug ever occurred again, it obviously wouldn’t set me back too much.
The other bug, I was going into an area and then I hit a load screen. This game sometimes had to load in cutscenes so I figured that’s what was happening. Instead, the game loaded back into the game but my character was just stuck. I could move the camera but not the character. I had to load up a prior save and in my second try, the cutscene triggered.
Recap: The Good
- The World
- Kassandra Voice Actress
Recap: The Bad
- Lack of Puzzles
- Alexios Voice Actor
- Game-Breaking Bugs/Game Crashing
Recap: The Okay