Top critical review
Explore Ancient Greece Like Never Before
Reviewed in Australia on 12 November 2020
I should note, I didn't play the PS4 copy & ended up buying it again on PC instead, playing on that platform.
There's definitely some improvements to this over AC Origins. Regardless of whether you've played any of the AC games before this, expect Ubisoft's tried & true "quantity over quality" approach.
The game has its ups & I can say it's a good game but not a quality game. A lot of the animations are extremely repetitive, the "living, breathing world" is a blatant illusion that a lot of other modern open world games have been rectifying while AC Odyssey makes as little effort as possible to change this.
The RPG mechanics regarding gameplay are probably the nicer part of the game, although when it comes to the narrative RPG mechanics, the game falls pretty short. It's mantra is that choice matters yet all your choices almost feel insignificant as there's seldom much of a consequence.
To make matters worse the choice of playing between Alexios or Kassandra is made redundant as it's painfully obvious the game was designed with Kassandra as the canon choice. Not only this but Kassandra is by far the more lovable character, both for the slight narrative differences & the voice acting, her character feels much more alive & reactive to the narrative & game world unlike Alexios who feels fairly dull. Instead of providing a quality experience revolving around Kassandra, Ubisoft went the politically correct route. As a side bar, I prefer playing as male characters, it's just my preference, but being forced to play as a female is not a bad thing at all, especially when the character is designed well (e.g. New era Lara Croft, Aloy from Horizon, Ellie from Last of Us, Aveline from ACL, Emily from Dishonoured & more). So it's unfortunate to see that Kassandra could have been a much better character. The consequences of your choices & the way the environment reacts to you could have been far, far better. But ironically in a ploy to appeal to political correctness, Ubisoft ended up ruining the experience. In other words the narrative feels too neutral which in turn makes your choices feel neutral.
Otherwise her character seems a lot more alive & reactive. Kassandra speaks her mind & the voice acting feels a lot more natural & not as forced as Alexios' sounds.
The story is pretty decent & does really well to utilise real historical events & characters complimented by Greek Mythology. You'll encounter historical characters like Socrates & mythological beasts like Cyclops. Unfortunately the bridge between mythical & real is often skewed horribly. When fighting a legendary boar for example, the boar will literally call in reinforcement boars, yet there's nothing to indicate that the boar is of mythical or magical origins. Things like these can suck you out of any immersion.
The gameplay is okay but a bit lacking, it gets repetitive despite the range of skills & this may be why. The range of skills is decent but it can get a little old fast. Enemies can start to feel like sponges at times resulting in cheesy ways to beat them, like kicking them off a cliff. Although it's fun, it's annoying having to jump down to find their corpse in the hope of getting the loot.
Where the game shines though is the historical environment. A lot of it is accurate, some I'm familiar with from teachings in school. It's really lush & vibrant. The view distance in the game is astonishing as well, I can't say how it is for PS4 but I imagine it's scaled as on PC I was able to see from 1 island to another & even further at times. The sheer size of the map is colossal. It's a really breathtaking experience exploring ancient Greece & seeing 1 of the oldest civilisations in the world brought to life in some degree. There's a lot of times I found myself stopping to take in the sights. The game just looks so damn gorgeous & the graphics aren't even that good.
There's too much quest stuffing in this though. You'll be pretty overwhelmed with quests to a point that you'll just want to give up on them & want them to end. Fortunately, some of the quests involve some really likeable characters & you'll have been grateful to have played them, others just make you wonder why they even bothered putting them in the game.
Overall, it's a good game just not a quality game. I wouldn't spend more than $25AU on this despite buying a 2nd copy on PC, though I intend to trade in the PS4 copy anyway. I would have preferred if Ubisoft ditched the political correctness, ditched Alexios & just focussed on providing a fleshed out experience for Kassandra.