This article is dedicated on the main story of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey game, in parallel with some of the previous masterpieces of the title. I will not discuss topics on gameplay features or game mechanics. We are going to follow the storyline of Kassandra as the protagonist, because Ubisoft made her the cannon character. SPOILERS AHEAD ABOUT EVERYTHING!!!
Historical Data: An Assassin’s Creed Classic
Assassin’s Creed Origins takes place at 431 BCE, the beggining of the Pelloponisian War and ends at 422 BCE, when the battle of Amphipolis took place. The game gives various flashbacks about king Leonidas of Sparta and the battle of Thermopylae, that took place at 480 BCE. Many of the characters presented are also historical: the philosopher Socrates, the general Alkibiades, the two kings of Sparta, Perikles and many others. Ubisoft has enstablished a well known tradition with incarnating historical events and historical characters with great mastery, and they did deliver at Odyssey, too. The depiction of the ancient Greek world was majestic and the whole Spartan vs Athens war was very well presented.
Although the great settings that makes you feel like a part of the world during your journey, there are many inconsistencies with the story continuation. Odyssey, has a choice system, where your choices affect the world around you. Although it works for a part of the game (like the plague in Kephalonia), it is flawed during the free roam. For example, if you help Athens with the conquest of a region, after the battle, they treat you like they don’t know you. Als othey are still hostile, although you fought side by side. That makes the game sometimes exhausting or frustrating, because there is no place that you can actually call “home”.
A misthios in the Greek world
Misthios is a short for the greek world μισθοφόρος (misthoforos), a well known and highly rewarding job during the ancient Greek Classical Era. Those who chose the path of mercenaries were deserters or exiled soldiers. Famous historical mercenaries were Xenophon of the Ten Thousand and Memnon of Rhodes. They were forced into the life of a mercenary. The first became a servant to the king of Thrace and the second to the king of Persia. They were professional soldiers, not only at arms, but also at waging warfare. Both of the previous examples were great strategists.
The game depicts the life of mercenaries like a job destination. Kassandra (or Alexios) are mercenaries by choice, which was not the situation in ancient Greece. Also, Odyssey has not presented the honor system behind the mercenary job. A misthios has to sell his sword to a master, even if it means to fight against his own people. Memnon of Rhodes stayed loyal to Darius the Third when Alexander the Great invaded Asia Minor, until his death. The idea behind a freelancer mercenary is fictional, but it serves the development of the game.
Main Story: Kassandra Origins
Odyssey follows a familiar story pattern like the other Assassin’s Creed titles, with that being the one of family tragedy. This time though noone loses his family, if you make the correct choice of course. Kassandra lives with her parents Myrinne and Nikolaos at Sparta. Soon, a brother comes at her life, Alexios. But the happiness won’t last. The Cult of Kosmos (the Templars during that Era) finds out that the real father of Kassandra and Alexios. Later, you will find out that he is Pythagoras, the famous mathematician. Nikolaos, feeling betrayed, he agrees to throw away Alexios, because of his power that was given by his birth father. Kassandra in an attempt to save her baby brother, she killed an elder, forcing Nikolaos’ hand to throw her of the cliff too.
Both the children lived somehow (although the Taygetos is arround 2km in height) and Kassandra fled into a boat. She ended up in Kephalonia where Markos, a kind of a Merchant takes care of her. Kassandra becomes a misthios, running errands for the people of Kephalonia, in order to make a living. The flaws are remarkable and unrealistic. Kaiadas (the point of Taygetos where Spartans left their sickly children) was far away from Gytheion, the “port” of Sparta. Kephallonia is a long way from Laconia. Modern ships require a day to reach. If Kassandra was washed up at Kethyra this could be more believable. Sometimes these small details make a game like Assassin’s Creed II a game of the year and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey just an addition to a franchise.
All were going well, until Elpinor, a peculiar man appeared at Kephallonia. He offers a job for Kassandra. To assassinate Nikolaos, The Wolf of Sparta. I could quote Deadpool that “this is lazy writting”, but we could say that the Cult that already had Alexios, would want to take Kassandra, the last descendant of Pythagoras and through them to take over the greek world. Of course it’s up to the player if Nikolaos. For the sake of your time, we will save all the members of Kassandra’s family (yes, even the pratt Stentor). From Nikolaos, Kassandra learns that Nikolaos is not her father. Unexpectadly, the story from this point forward, during your quest to find your family (we don’t care about your quests Pythagoras!) has a very solid story. Even though the concept vengeance that Ubisoft once again uses, can be boring and repeatable.
An amazing detail is that the story of Alexios is known to Layla (modern day assassin, just to remind you because modern day story died with AC Unity), is known by a lost book of Herodotos, the first man ever to record history. He will guide during the course of your adventures, staying by your side, “writting” your story. That was a really smart move from Ubisoft and it really made us appreciate the character. He is a close assossiate of the statesman Perikles, the “mentor” of the primal assassin order.
Perikles: The Primal Assassin’s Creed Order
Perikles, like Leonidas and others, are aware of the Cult of Kosmos, and are rallying against them. Kassandra will meet various historical figures. Although many are visualised a little bit different than their real figure in history (Alkibiades was not gay, but a soldier famous for his strength and strategic mind), they are a really good addition to the game. The smart phrase like “an apple can keep a doctor away” from Hippokrates are not cringe, but actuall human moments. However, the drawback is that the Assassins are mostly Athenians (like Perikles) but yet you are a Spartan, fighting for Spartans (Pylos, Amphipolis). This kinda ruins the continuity of the story as I said at the first chapter about the conquest battles. It;s like you run errands for the man you seek to destroy. This does not make much sense.
Another asset of all these characters, is that they do not rush the plot. Although they stand together against the same foe, they help Kassandra unify her family, because they know that the destiny of Kassandra’s family is to stop the Cult. You do not feel that you must do something and the game, staying loyal to it’s RPG character does not make you do something that you do not want to do. You can meet Hippokrates, Socrates and then leave Athens and go to Sparta. The freedom of the game, let you explore every aspect and side quests (which are very interesting mini – stories) and learn about the lore of ancient Greece and aabout the lore of the game (even for secondary characters, like Daphni or Xenia the pirate).
Family United: The Cult Destruction
Around the year 430 BCE (the year that historically Perikles died from sickness), Perikles dies from the hand of Alexios. This “forces” the squad to take down Kleon and Alexios. Kassandra finds her mother and returns to Sparta, where they took back their Spartan citizenship. They uncover that king Pausanias is actually a member of the Cult and they persuade king Archidamos to exile him. Kassandra of course kills him afterwards. The events bought Kassandra face to face with Alexios many times, during battles and during Kassandra’s imprisonment. The plot manages to keep you intrested and on the tip of your toes, because of the smart choice system, because you don’t know what will become of you or Alexios. Finally, after the last battle of Amphipolis (RIP Brasidas, my brother), the family is reunited and Kassandra turns to wipe out the rest of the Cult.
The fact that Aspasia was the leader of the Cult was a majestic plot twist. I think that everyone had Palpatine PTSD during the scene. She was always there, visible to others and to Kassandra, but noone ever suspected her. She seemed to genually love Perikles and admire him and she also helped you, so there was no reason to believe that in fact she was the Ghost of Kosmos. For me, she was the absolute villain. A beautiful face but behind the kind mask, she was a criminal mastermind. Using the very own Assassin doctines of hiding in plain site, she brought the Greek World to its knees. And even at the end, she tries to manipulate Kassandra herself to join her (yes, I believe she was lying). Of course, she fails and Kassandra kills her and destroys the Cult once and for all.
Keeper of the Staff of Hermes
After the Cult’s destruction, you return to Pythagoras, you “seal” Atlantis and Kassandra takes the Staff of Hermis Trismegistus, letting Pythagoras to rest (minus the fact that Pythagoras was “tired” after only 150 years and Kassandra stays there for 2500 years, but whatever…). And the whole scene starts to make no sense. We know from the first Assassin’s Creed games that the whole point was for the Assassin’s to protect the human free will, while saving them from the next solar flare. Atlantis at Assassin’s Creed mythology has no real meaning or purpose of existance. We know that it was really advanced and they were destroyed for this (and their arroganced). The Fate of Atlantis tells us these stories, but they have no real meaning or sagnifficance (as an Isu structure) as the Papal Vault at Assassin’s Creed II.
Another thing is the mythological turn of the game. All Assassin’s Creed games are on the verge between realism and mythology, often adding the mythological aspects of the game at DLCs (like Assassin’s Creed III). In Odyssey, these balanced boundries are lost. At one point, you have the mythical beasts to be just normal oversized beasts (like the movie Hercules did with Dwayne Johnson), and then you have the Sphinx and the Minotaur. Or the fact that you can be a pyromancer. During the game Hippokrates and Sokrates talk about science and logic and reason and then you can put your sword on fire… I understand why they did it as a gameplay aspect, but it does not help with the whole story at all.
Modern Day Story: Why it sucks
As I wrote before, modern day story of Layla, is kinda boring. The character development that we witnessed with Desmond Miles was miles ahead from Layla. Even the memories DLC of AC Revelations have more interest than the whole story of Layla. They did not put so much effort at the story, maybe because they wanted to create the amazing world of ancient Greece. We could say from the voice actors that there is not the same enthusiasm for the modern day story. The lack of destiny that Desmont had, the father – son relation, Lucy (I know that I scrath old wounds) and the whole team was interesting to listen and follow their stories. Layla has… none of these.
She has a team that we don’t even see, she has like no enemies. The only person that she is able to kill is her friend. And even that had no damn sense. If we see the mythology of Assassin’s Creed, the pieces of Eden have immediate effect on the minds of the weak. Assassins have not the same DNA as normal humans. They are Isu hybrids. So, if Layla is so weak minded and the staff immediatly made her kill her friend using her free will (it’s not the same with Desmond when he killed Lucy, he realise that Layla is not an assassin. At least not like Altair, Ezio or Desmond. It seems like she tries to become one, but fails in the proccess (like her story does).
Comparing with other Assassin’s Creed Titles
This is the section where things get personal. What I mean of course is that, every gamer has a different opinion on this. For some Assassin’s Creed Black Flag had the best story, for other’s the journey of Altair seemed more wholesome. Every Assassin we have met has a unique character and story. We can all agree that the fans favourite (and Ubisoft’s) is Ezio. I mean, who else has three games and a mini movie in their pocket? AC 2 has a very interesting character development (you can rest assure that I will right about him), that made us love Ezio. His charm, his skills and his leadership skills made him an ecxellent character. Someone you can feel and hear and understand. A classic story of vengeance, that turned to be the cornerstone of an entire Saga.
Odyssey has not a great impact on the Assassin’s Creed Story. Although it succeeded as an RPG game, it failed as a story of the famous Saga. We cared more about the death of Brasidas, than the return of Alexios, or the fall of the Cult. Odyssey lack the sense of destiny that Ezio has. The fight of keeping the free will intact is lost through chaotic battles, mythic monster battles and fighting huge pigs that fart. As RPG features were great, but they didn’t give us the Assassin experience. Perikles didn’t even came close as a character as Nicolo Maciavelli did. We all loved Brasidas, but he was not that well written as Leonardo Da Vinci was.
If Odyssey were a standalone game, we could say that it was a decent game. A good RPG game, but of course not as good as the Witcher 3. But it belongs to the extended family of the Assassin’s Creed Saga. There were some expectations from the audience. And as an Assassin’s Creed title it failed. Unfortunately, the era of games like Assassin’s Creed II or Black Flag are gone, never to return. The circle of the AC titles must close, before the lore become more complicated. The modern world story is at the very least boring and without purpose. They brought Desmond back at AC Valhalla, but adding Nolan North’s voice for 5 minutes, is not gonna save a 15 years old franchise.
I hope you had fun! Every topic is open for discussion, as long as we are respectfull to the others opinion! This very text is just a review on my point of view of the game!