The Assassin's Creed Odyssey a much needed breath of fresh air in the tried and tested open-word action adventure genre.
The game is set in ancient Greece, decades after the historic Battle of Thermopylae, where Spartan King Leonidas and his 300 trusted men stemmed the tide of Persian forces led by King Xerxes.
The Assassin's Creed series – one of the most cherished third-person action games in existence – peaked with the release of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag in 2013.
Then everything took a nosedive as Developer and publisher UBIsoft turned the series into a shameless cash-grab, and started pumping out one mediocre title after another with no regards for ingenuity or quality.
However, after putting in more than 100 hours in the Odyssey, we can safely say that the latest iteration of the Assassins vs Templar saga is a treat to both the fans and newcomers. The Odyssey is a visual and technical marvel, while the gameplay and story will keep you hooked for months.
An ancient conspiracy
A secretive cult, formed by a group of most powerful and wealthy men and women of the era, is plotting to unify ancient Greece through an elaborate conspiracy.
These war profiteers – kings, merchants, weapons dealers, politicians, mercenaries and priests – are stoking the fires of conflict between two the opposing factions – Sparta and Athens.
They have infiltrated almost every position of power in the Greek world, spouting ideologies of freedom, glory and patriotism. But their end goal is simple – profit and control through the Peloponnesian War.
You will play as the mercenary Kassandra or her brother Alexios. As Kassandra is the cannon heroine of the tale, we chose her to embark on a tale of retribution against the cultists across the Greek world.
Kassandra is the grand-daughter of Spartan King Leonidas. She is as lethal as her grand-dad, but has twice the charm. The blood of a precursor civilization courses through her veins.
Gone are the hidden blades, a signature weapon of the series that assassins use to kill their target. Instead, Kassandra uses Leonidas' broken spear – recovered from the Thermopylae battleground – as her primary tool for the trade of assassination.
Life of a mercenary
As a mercenary, Kassandra and her pet eagle Ikaros works for the highest bidder. Pay her well enough and she will hunt down any prey, be it a king or a general.
She can use a wide variety of bladed and blunt weapons including daggers, swords, scythes, spears and clubs. Kassandra uses her weapon of choice along with her broken spear to take down enemies in a flurry of counters, dodges and overpowered finishing blows.
Ikaros works as a spotter for Kassandra and helps her in combat by disrupting the enemies. Her horse Phobos helps her get around.
Combat is easy to pick up, but hard to master. The skill tree makes a comeback from the previous title Assassin's Creed Origins, but it is far more accessible to newcomers in the role-playing game genre.
You will roam the breathtakingly detailed landscape of Greece to take on increasingly tricky contracts, discover painstakingly recreated historical landmarks such as the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena, and hunt down those who ripped Kassandra's family apart.
The mystery unravels as you sneak and stab your way forward into the game's story. Hinting that Kassandra is much more than it meets the eye, and why a group of most powerful people in ancient Greece want her blood in their hands.
Embark on an Odyssey
Kassandra gets a ship named Adrestia after assassinating the original owner early in the game. She then becomes free to explore the massive Greek world, battling pirates, Athenians and Spartans.
The ship is combat ready and upgradable. Do enough damage, and you can cleave enemy ships in half using your ram. Instead of cannons and grapeshot, you will be using fire arrows and javelins to send your enemies at the bottom of the ocean.
Discovering new regions and landmarks is the soul of the game. We spent hours sailing from one Greek island to another, finding loot chests, monuments, temples, cities, ruins and in a few mythical creatures living in caves.
Explore furthest corners of Greece, and you may just stumble upon legendary creatures such as Cyclopes and Medusa.
On an end note, there are a few downsides to the game. Level grinding can be tedious and UBIsoft has included micro-transactions in the guise of "time savers." You will also need a beefy computer to run the title, unless you own one of the current-gen consoles.
But the beauty of the game shines through the underhanded tactics of UBI, and ample side quests will make sure to keep you levelled for the next quest.
To keep this article spoiler free, we chose not to reveal the plot and premise of the series.