Video Game Review: Assassin’s Creed: Origins

Details: This is a review of the base game and the downloadable content that came with it, not of The Hidden Ones or Curse of the Pharaoh expansions. Beat the main quest in about thirty hours. Spent another ten hours playing through side quests and clearing the map. More information can be found at https://www.ubisoft.com/en-gb/game/assassins-creed-origins/

Score: 7.5/10

The biggest flaw of Assassin’s Creed: Origins has nothing to do with the game. The problem is that I played Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey first and that it is clearly the better game. Odyssey did come out after Origins after all. In comparison with Odyssey, Origins maintains more of the trappings of the old Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Even still, Origins introduces many new elements that improve on the franchise and move it forward. It is from this Origins that Odyssey builds upon and further refines.

Origins mostly takes place in ancient Ptolemaic Egypt. This is the time period of Julius Cesar, Cleopatra and the Roman Empire. You play primarily as Bayek, one of the last Medjay, protectors of Egypt. When a secret organization attacks Bayek, Bayek devotes himself to assassinating every last member of that organization. This task takes him across ancient Egypt where he meets and interacts with many famous persons from history.

The story is pretty good. It’s your standard revenge tale and has a lot to do with the overall canon created by the franchise. Unlike Odyssey, this is a linear story. No branching story paths or decisions to make. Which is unfortunate, but it is a good, fictional tale that intermingles with the history of that time period.

The present day also makes a return, which is nice. A lot of vocal people on the internet hated the present day stuff, but I enjoyed it.

As with most open world games, the biggest star is the world. Ptolemaic Egypt is vast and beautiful. As I had hoped, you get to climb everything, including the pyramids. There are also some archaeological portions where you get to explore  and raid these ancient ruins, which were surprisingly fun.

Most importantly, the dessert isn’t the only environment you are in. As you travel through the world, greener environment present themselves. I like dessert, but all that orange sand bores the eyes. You should also keep in mind that despite the vast map size, about half of it is mostly empty desert. Despite that, the map is still filled with more than enough to do.

Gameplay is vastly different than all the Assassin’s Creed games that came before. It is more akin to something you’d find in The Witcher III or the Dark Souls games. You have a primary weapon and a shield. The primary weapon can be a sword, spear, dagger, heavy blunt weapon, and heavy bladed weapon. You also get a bow for ranged attacks. Each weapon has different range, speed and damage. Combat primarily consists of timing dodges, parries, light attacks and strong attacks. It’s a fun system that is very familiar if you’ve played The Witcher III.

Stealth and parkour remain, but it’s simplified. You can climb just about anything and it is no longer a puzzle mechanic. Stealth is still fun, but you can no longer one shot kill anyone. Like Odyssey, Origins adopts a fairly strict system where killing anyone two levels or higher than you is a monumental and time consuming task.

There is a ton of color coded loot that follows the conventional system of common, uncommon, rare, epic and legendary qualities of loot. The only thing I don’t like about this system is that your outfit is considered one whole piece of loot instead of multiple pieces (boots, gauntlet, helmet, etc.). It also doesn’t convey any stats and is purely cosmetic. The weapons do convey stats though.

Visually, the game looks great. It looks about as good as Odyssey.

The voice acting is great. The music is great and matches the setting well.

Lastly, if you buy the game, you get access to Discovery Tour, which you can also buy alone for around twenty dollars. Discovery Tour is a fully voiced, guided tour through ancient Egypt with no fighting or anything. This isn’t a half-hearted thing, it’s really well done and feels like walking through a museum. You just control a character and follow a line through historical sites and, like in a museum, a narrator discusses true points of history. Discovery Tour is one of the best additions to the Assassin’s Creed franchise in a long time because a substantial number of people play these games simply for the historical aspect. I can imagine a lot of people who don’t like video games in general would really enjoy the educational aspect of learning about Ptolemaic Egypt. Most of all, it really highlights the amount of research done to create a world highly inspired by actual history.

Overall, this was a really fun game. However, if you were to ask me whether to play this or skip it and play Odyssey, I’d recommend you skip it and play Odyssey. Odyssey takes many of the ideas introduced in this game and improves on them.

For instance, Origins does not have a soft lock system. That means that if you do not manually lock onto a single enemy, your character will have a tough time hitting anyone and often just swing at air. Locking onto one enemy is particularly annoying when you’re trying to fight multiple enemies at once, something that happens a lot. Another thing is that the camera is too close. It makes it hard to spot enemies during combat, where Odyssey has a more dynamic camera that changes position slightly based on whether you’re in combat or in stealth.

There are a million little tweaks like these that make Odyssey the superior game, at least from a gameplay standpoint. So if you must play one and only one Assassin’s Creed game, then I’d recommend Odyssey. If you have the option of playing Odyssey and Origins, then I’d recommend playing Origins first as Odyssey’s gameplay is a step forward. If you’ve already played Odyssey and want to play Origins, then you should keep in mind that the gameplay is a slight step down from Odyssey.

Score: 7.5/10

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