Our review playthrough of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is currently in progress. We’re currently using a review code provided to us by Ubisoft for the PlayStation 4 and a personally acquired copy on PC Uplay. These are our first impressions.
I’ve been slicing my way through the all you can eat murder buffet that is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for our official review and I’ve got to tell you this game just gets bigger and bigger the further and deeper you get into it.
Not only does the world of ancient Greece open up before you, adding new islands to visit, new quests to seek out and new vistas to explore, but Odyssey adds layers of complex systems. There’s a whole kill or be killed ladder of bounty hunters and mercenaries to slice through, a sprawling network of polemarchs and captains to be slain, supplies to destroy and conquest battles to be waged. These systems give you a sense of how unsteady the balance is in war-torn Greece – to the point of letting you laughably flip some regions back and forth between Spartan and Athenian control.
But it wasn’t until a dozen hours in that I unlocked what is the game’s most compelling subsystem – the Cultists system. It’s a devious and ingenious addition to the game, describing a sprawling network of conspirators that have been manipulating both sides of the Peloponnesian War to ensure it is prolonged to their profit. “The Cult of Kosmos” as it is known, has infiltrated nearly every aspect of Greek society, from the criminal underworld to the highest levels of political leadership. The Cultists system offers them up as 44 cultists you can hunt down and assassinate.
You’ll start with some information telling you how to uncover the identity of a cultist, who could be a member of any one of seven arms of the organization. From the military strategists of the Delian League to the wealthy financiers from the Silver Vein, each cultist has a place in the organization, and is found through gathering clues, buying information and completing quests. Of course, it’s entirely possible to run into members. I shanked the leader of the watchful Eyes of Kosmos and only knew because the game crossed them off.
It’s incredibly addictive and perfectly woven into everything that Assassin’s Creed has always been about – murdering rich, powerful jerks – even though the player isn’t nominally an Assassin. Previous installments handled these villains in story missions, with chapters that featured bungled attempts and near misses leading up to their long awaited demise. In effect, past games killed off its villains in a predetermined order that suited the narrative. But in Odyssey, you’re free to pursue most of them at your leisure.
And while killing cultists should be its own reward, they also drop pieces of unique legendary armor sets. So if you’re uninterested in the mysteries of who holds the strings of power in ancient Greece, you’ll at least get some sweet gear. Still, there are some genuine surprises to be found as you unmask the members of the cult and some can elicit a genuine feeling of shock and/or betrayal. The genius of Odyssey’s Cultist system is that it’s made an entire organization a compelling nemesis in its own right.
For more impressions of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, you can read about how the game places freedom of choice ahead of history.