When I showed my aunt Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, she said: “It’s all Greek to me.” For once, she and gaming were on the same page. The latest entry to Ubisoft’s seemingly perpetual series will take place in Ancient Greece, a setting fans have long anticipated.
Assassin’s Creed has taken some interesting turns during its ten-year history. The first entry was janky but promising,with excellent platforming sections but poor combat and a limited world to explore. The second game, however, delivered on all fronts, creating the open world historical toy-box we are still playing today. In Assassin’s Creed II, we were introduced to the Renaissance — not only in terms of the time period, but for the series itself too.
Rebirth has been a theme of Assassin’s Creed ever since, with the series taking us to Rome, the American Revolution, industrial London, the era of pirates and ancient Egypt.
It’s not just the scenery that has changed, with gameplay evolving heavily too. Slowly but surely, the series has gone from a platformer to the leading template for open-world games everywhere, with naval battles, mini-games and a loot system all added over time
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which releases on October 5, continues that incessant journey of evolution, building on the advancements made by Origins in a number of ways. For a start, you can now choose between a male or female character, Alexios and Kassandra. While both characters will have the same story and general approach to gameplay, this is the first time Creed has given us the option to choose the face and voice of our hero, doubling down on the RPG elements.
Taking another cue from Mass Effect are the dialogue options now in play. You can choose how to respond in conversations, by getting angry, flirting, bartering, and so on. How you handle a situation will lead to different
outcomes, all of which tie into the overall theme of war between Sparta and Athens. Choosing a side will lead to bounties being placed on your head and different story paths.
With war serving as the backdrop, you’ll be spending plenty of time engaging in combat and it looks like the development team will further grow the role-playing features introduced in Origins. The loot and levelling
systems will return, but Ubisoft have also added special ‘power slots’ that allow you to heal and perform special moves. Overall, it looks like the combat may finally be on a par with more standard action titles in terms of flexibility and choice.
It seems like Assassin’s Creed has been on a never-ending journey of improvement these last ten years. If the latest entry continues that odyssey, it could be a Greek classic.
LIFE IS STRANGE
There’s a different kind of journey on display in Life is Strange 2. The original game was a coming-of-age story with supernatural elements, largely set around a college campus and the character Maxine Caulfield. In the sequel, which features entirely new characters and plot, two young brothers go on the run after being implicated in a murder.
Developers Dotnod say that they have built the story around the themes of brotherhood and education, drawing heavily on the work of a photographer called Mike Brodie, who hopped from freight to freight across the US and recorded the lives of drifters.
In Life is Strange 2, the brothers Sean, 16, and Diaz, 9, must find their way home to Mexico from Seattle in a journey that is sure to be full of puzzles, exploration and top notch character development. Life Is Strange 2 travels to PC and consoles on September 27.
Finally, if you’re looking for some quiet time away from the noise, Square Enix’s latest experiment probably doesn’t fit the bill. The Quiet Man — no relation to the film— is a bizarre beat-em-up starring a deaf teenager on a revenge mission against Latino mobsters.
While we’ve only seen videos so far, The Quiet Man comes across as highly campy and almost entirely laden with non-interactive video cutscenes, which then transition into dodgy action gameplay. It’s exactly the kind of game that would have been released 20 years ago as a gimmick. We’ll keep an open mind to what is a strange move from Square Enix, but The Quiet Man doesn’t look like anything worth shouting about.