The very idea of Assassin’s Creed just sounds cool: a simulated trip to your ancestor’s past who happens to be the illusive hooded figure assassinating some of history’s most influential and corrupted individuals. Assassin’s Creed Origins is not your average Assassin’s Creed title by any means, however. It does have traces of the series’ DNA, but also layers and layers of depth you expect from an RPG. From the astounding detail to a revamped combat system to the RPG mechanics, Assassin’s Creed Origins is a triumph title showing us that Ubisoft is more than ready to take the series in a new, refreshing direction.
In Assassin’s Creed Origins, we are taken to Ancient Egypt during a time where the death of the old civilization and Cleopatra’s reign are shaping the events of history. You’ll play as Bayek, part-time guardian, full-time assassin, all around good guy, and one of Ubisoft’s most enjoyable protagonist to share your 30 to 40 hour adventure of revenge, love, betrayal, and the birth of the Assassin’s Creed brotherhood.
There’s a steady, sometimes slow, and recycled pace of the story: dramatic event, assassinate characters a, b, and c, dramatic event, assassinate characters d, e, and f, and so on. This is the DNA of any AC game, and Origins does its best turn the revenge cliche into an origin tale of the Brotherhood of the Assassins. I get it, revenge is the big motivation for Bayek and a good enough reason, but it’s something we’ve seen before and carries too much weight throughout the story.
Bayek is no slouch whatsoever, for he is a Medjay, a protector of the free people ready for the fight when necessary. Ubisoft will probably never top the iconic Ezio Auditore from Assassin’s Creed II, but Bayek is a pretty great main character because of his patience, inner-strength, and bold swagger. As he said, “It is my will that drives me. Not fear.”
Naturally, you can’t talk about Bayek without mentioning his companion and wife, Aya. Throughout the game, I started to appreciate their relationship more and more because of their reliance and trust in one another, and always being a line of support. It surprised me how involved she would be in the story, playing a crucial part in a lot of events. Aya can sure handle her own, just as Bayek can handle his. As Bayek said, “Many have doubted Aya. Many have seen the end of her blade.” Yeah, this game is just full of badass quotes like that. The story was hard to follow for a bit in the beginning, but overall interesting, fun, and ties characters and events nicely for a hype climax.
Origins is a huge departure for the series in the gameplay department, and it totally works. Origins just adopts nuances and great gameplay from other games while adding their own twist to it for better or worst, but overwhelmingly better. It’s great to see that western role-playing games are slowly getting away from garbage fetch quests to actually interesting and layered quests. We’ve seen it in The Witcher 3 and once again in Origins, where the meaningful missions are tied to and give layers to the culture and history of Ancient Egypt. Each quest I have completed have ranged from mildly interesting to silly to serious, making for a mostly great time. Quests do vary, but more than a few have a common theme of a corrupted priest, a missing individual, or infiltrating an enemy camp giving a sense of tedium here and there. Still fun, but noticeable recycled quests.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is the first game in the series to have such an in-depth RPG system. You can level up Bayek, equip various weapons, shields and bows that have their own stats and ailment inflictions, gather materials via hunting and crafting them to upgrade your equipment, spend ability points to unlock skills and tools to make infiltrating camps and fighting more diverse. You can also unlock convenience abilities, such as auto-looting assassinated enemies or extra experience points in headshots or continuous assassinations without detection. Best of all, your eagle companion Senu will provide a bird’s eye view of the land that can scan for treasure and enemies or just give a nice view! Anyways, the gameplay loop is there, and it’s addicting as hell.
The combat is revamped and it feels so much better than previous iterations, possibly the best in the series yet. It can feel clunky at times, but it’s ultimately fun, intense and requires skill for maximum efficiency. Enemy AI will attack in groups, block properly, and counter, keeping me locked into the fight at all times. Also, I love the weight of each weapon and using that to my advantage. For instance, the dual short swords and regular swords are fast and good for those quick dodge-and-slash maneuvers, while hammers and axes are slow but will crush any foe in your way. Switching them on the fly is a nice touch, since some weapons are better on certain enemies.
It’s one thing for the world to look pretty, but it’s another to make it feel alive, which Origins definitely nails. Something The Witcher 3 is also praised for, Origins has robust environments filled with NPCs with their own agendas. Whether it’d be a pack of lions fighting crocodiles, people praying in the ancient Egyptian temples, or even an enemy soldier taking a leak off of the side of their ship, there’s this sense of life that seems to go on even after you stop playing. When the open-world in a video game feels like that, you know the developers did their job right and it’s absolutely fantastic. The unpredictability of the wilds, the bustling cities, even rock and desert formations all look and feel real enough to make Origins a tourist experience. Only a few games have accomplished this, and Assassin’s Creed Origins is one of them.
Also, you can tame a freakin’ lion! #goals
First and foremost, sound is masterful in Assassin’s Creed Origins. Natural sound just creates a new layer of immersion in Origins with locals singing while they work in the fields or the sound Bayek’s armor makes when he’s scaling buildings and jumping. Even the sounds for the horse and camels you ride sound different when galloping, which is a neat detail. Very impressive stuff here when it comes to ambient sound.
The voice acting is not half bad either! Thankfully Bayek, Aya, and a few supporting characters’ voice actors sell you on their ambitions and add to the dramatic flair of what’s going on and even execute some good comedic moments. There are a few characters, like Cleopatra, where some lines just fall flat and into the, “Okay, this is your last line for the day” category. The accents are there, but don’t deviate enough to need subtitles, however it is a good idea to turn them on anyways since the pronunciation of names of places and people are subject to their historic time.
Sadly, we don’t have a music set that is as epic as we have gotten from Assassin’s Creed II, but there are one or two songs that stick out in Origins. The important thing is that the music does fall nicely as backdrop to what’s going on, but that’s all it ever is.
Ubisoft sure knows how to make their games look beautiful. For a game that takes place in Ancient Egypt, nearly 2000 years before our time, the development team did a phenomenal job with the level of detail. You can’t help but be amazed by every grain of detail that went into the villages, architecture of buildings, even the water. It’s mind blowing and stunning what they have done with Egypt. I played on my standard PS4 with a 1080p HD TV, and it looks gorgeous I will mention that the game does have its hiccups: muddy textures, pop-ins here and there, and frame rate dips. As with nearly every open world, there are the occasional bugs and glitches. Not enough to ruin the experience, but it’s something to be aware of.
I love riding on horseback and panning the camera around to see the pyramids of Giza in the background. A fun feature is the in-game photo mode, taking full advantage of the gorgeous vistas Ancient Egypt has to offer. I’m blown away with what is accomplished visually in Assassin’s Creed Origins, especially since the game has its own day and night cycles that sets a mood into every location under a sunset sky or a starlit night. Here a few treats from my playthrough:
There’s without a doubt Assassin’s Creed Origins is my new favorite in the series. Ancient Egypt is beautifully realized in an Assassin’s Creed game that succeeds in reinventing itself. The series is back and better than ever, but that isn’t to say this game is for everyone. I feel like most people that will get their hands on this game will enjoy the experience, but not everyone will like the combat since it can feel messy at first and whether you like the story or not is completely subjective. Also, there are microtransactions in the game, but they are not intrusive and what they offered were never needed during my playthrough since I could just find whatever I needed by playing the game…
In any case, I love Assassin’s Creed Origins. I look forward to getting my Platinum Trophy in it and uncovering as many nuances as I can with my good buddy Bayek. For a prequel game, this is one of the great ones.
Ancient Egypt is beautifully realized in an Assassin's Creed game that succeeds in reinventing itself. There are minor, but predictable faults as it is an open-world game, but the overall package and experience is something well-worth your money and time.