"Ubisoft really wasn't joking around when it called the latest Assassin's Creed game an Odyssey," begins GamesRadar+'s Sam Loveridge in her five out of five review.
"It's not just in the Greek tragedy-inspired story, the vast, vast map or the sheer number of hours you're going to sink into it. It's the journey. The journey from one Greek island to another, with dolphins and whales cresting the waves alongside your boat. It's about the journey across the stunning Grecian landscape, ranging from forests bearing autumnal hues, to the majestic white marble buildings nestled comfortably in the cities, and absolutely everything in between. Including an active volcano that you can swan dive into. But more importantly, it's also about the journey to discover who exactly you are in Assassin's Creed Odyssey."
The search for identity is a somewhat fitting theme as this is Ubisoft's greatest departure from the series formula to date. Building on the open-world structure of last year's Origins, Odyssey adds a dialogue system, romances, multiple endings and even more RPG mechanics. In fact, Twinfinite's Zhiqing Wan says it "barely even feels like an Assassin's Creed game" and stands up just as well as a "really strong, standalone historical fiction video game."
"It's vast, there's no getting around that, but optional goat-hunting bounties aside the majority of your time with Odyssey is well respected"
Tom Phillips, Eurogamer
Eurogamer's Tom Phillips notes that even the franchise's traditional focus on historical events has "shifted effortlessly into a place where godlike powers and mythical artefacts are now a major part of its everyday parlance". In addition to soldiers and members of a sinister cult, players find themselves facing off against mythological creatures like Medusa - all tied to the First Civilization revealed in earlier games - while wielding powers like teleportation and a supernatural weapon in the Spear of Leonidas.
"The blade symbolises the shift away from Ubisoft's habitual Assassin's Creed gameplay to one that feels freer, more fantastical and more fun," Phillips writes in his Recommended review. "Why wait to dual assassinate a pair of enemies who've finally rotated around their guard patterns to stand next to one another when you can blink around a map chaining assassinations over great distances, should you have invested in the skills and built-up the stamina to do so?"
US Gamer's Mike Williams agrees, adding: "Assassin's Creed: Odyssey is a convergence of some different concepts for the franchise. The core of it is undeniably built upon the same foundation as Origins. If you've played Origins, combat and the general gameplay loop feel largely the same. If you're not heavily into Assassin's Creed, I'd either put some space between playing Origins and Odyssey, or jump straight into the latter game."
Much has been written about the size of the game and it's Grecian world, considerably larger than the already expansive Ancient Egypt of Origins. Phillips admits he was "wary Odyssey would begin to feel bloated", but reports that's not the case.
"Kassandra is pretty cheeky by nature, and isn't afraid to taunt her foes in the most demeaning ways. Like, say, stealing their fake eye and stuffing it up a goat's ass in front of them"
Zhiqing Wan, Twinfinite
"It's vast, there's no getting around that, but optional goat-hunting bounties aside the majority of your time with Odyssey is well respected," he says. "You're always a few hundred XP off a new level and new skill, or a mission away from completing an island's questline, or one Cultist kill behind upgrading my spear... Odyssey is an enormous game - certainly one of the biggest, if not the biggest game Ubisoft has ever made. It's an astonishing creation, extraordinarily generous and solidly crafted, and like its namesake is something that will live long in the telling."
VG247's James Billcliffe concurs, describing Odyssey as "easily the biggest Assassin's Creed there's ever been" but notes that even after 40 hours of gameplay, "it's never been boring."
This might partly be attributable to the engaging and well-performed main leads - with particular praise going to Kassandra - and the more light-hearted attitude your chosen Spartan takes to their adventure.
"The Assassin's Creed franchise has always been very self-serious, even with the more laid-back assassins like Ezio and Jacob Frye," Wan observes. "With Odyssey, however, Ubisoft isn't afraid to sprinkle a little humor into virtually every aspect of the game. Kassandra (or Alexios) is pretty cheeky by nature, and isn't afraid to taunt her foes in the most demeaning ways. Like, say, stealing their fake eye and stuffing it up a goat's ass in front of them."
While it's hard to compare to its own predecessors, Assassin's Creed Odyssey has been positioned as a contender to CD Projekt's most famous RPG.
"This is easily an experience of The Witcher 3 proportions, and while I can sympathise with someone who wants to see Odyssey's main family storyline wrapped up in 20 hours, this is simply not that kind of game," writes Phillips.
"When Assassin's Creed Odyssey is on point, you can tell that Ubisoft was looking at CD Projekt Red's The Witcher for inspiration. What you do in the quests isn't particularly novel, but the folks you meet are"
Mike Williams, USGamer
Williams adds: "When Assassin's Creed Odyssey is on point, you can tell that Ubisoft was looking at CD Projekt Red's The Witcher for inspiration. What you do in the quests isn't particularly novel, but the folks you meet are.
"One lady wants you to collect the ingredients to make a potion to increase her husband's stamina so they can have more sex. Another man has trapped himself in jail at the protests of his parents, because a prophecy said he'd do them harm with his sword and shield. I won't spoil all the ways that one can go, but some are truly weird. On a random island, I saved a hopelessly stupid captain from his crew, who were about to kill him for getting them shipwrecked. The main plot is relayed seriously, but when Odyssey gets weird, it also gets better."
Billcliffe also draws this comparison, reiterating that side quests are more likely to throw up "quirky stories with fun and memorable characters" than the "filler from older [AC] games". Improved combat and a rewarding loot system help engage players with these additional missions, but even without these mechanics, there is a lot of praise for the accompanying stories Ubisoft is trying to tell.
"In the moment to moment there's a richness and a warmth in the dialogue that I've never seen before in a Assassin's Creed game," says Loveridge. "Although I adore Assassin's Creed Origins and its protagonists, Bayek and Aya, the side quests could feel a little cookie cutter at times - go here, do this, fight that thing. They were certainly a huge step up from Assassin's Creed games of yore, but Odyssey is a giant leap from anything to date.
"I've never seen a game blur the line between side quest and story mission so much as Odyssey does, because all its many (many, many) quest types are delivered with the same gravitas and polish. It's sometimes actually difficult to figure out whether you've stumbled upon a particularly lengthy sidequest or following a main story arc."
Wan agrees: "There's a very strong sense of satisfaction to be had from following a random side quest that you thought would just be good for experience points, then finding out that it actually leads you to yet another vicious operation being handled by a cult member.
"No-one's made an open-world RPG with this much depth and brilliance since The Witcher 3. This really is the ultimate Creed"
Sam Loveridge, GamesRadar+
"Ubisoft has done a wonderful job of putting these cult members everywhere in the game, making them feel truly insidious, sinister, and like they've really got their eyes and ears everywhere. The Legendary gear that drops from the cultists certainly makes the hunt worth the effort, too."
Additionally, the introduction of choice - not just in how you tackle each situation but even the dialogue and ways you interact with characters - has been praised as a game-changer for the often heavily scripted Assassin's Creed series. It certainly helps to draw players further into the main quest, according to Williams.
"I wouldn't say the story is far better than Origins, but the weight of your choices lends it more impact overall," he writes. "When one supporting cast member dies, I wondered if my actions earlier in the game could've saved them; it's entirely possible they always die, but I felt guilty because in my head, there was a reality where I could've saved them.
"Assassin's Creed Odyssey even has multiple endings depending on some of the choices made, of which I've only seen a few. It's a good direction for the series, though I wish more of the interesting choices found their way down to some of the more boilerplate quests, because you'll be doing a lot of them."
Wan warns that Odyssey's quest choices "might seem tacked on and very straightforward at first glance" but this improved over the course of the game: "I got to see more possible combinations and permutations of different scenarios that could've played out instead of the one I got. The game's branches get pretty staggering later on, and Ubisoft definitely did an excellent job with those story deviations on their first go."
With a metacritic score of 85, it's no surprise that most reviews for Ubisoft's epic are glowing. Shifting a typically action-centric series further into RPG territory was a gamble but, critically at least, it appears to have paid off.
"Odyssey and Origins aren't the Assassin's Creeds of old, but they're both a compelling new foundation for the franchise and Odyssey is clearly a step in the right direction," says Williams.
Loveridge concludes: "In the end this journey is all about choice. The people you decide to let live, the romances you have, the sexuality lines you blur, the questlines you follow, the people you help and hinder and the RPG picks you make. It's an utterly beautifully crafted world and story, with cutscenes for literally days.
"After 70 hours I've only just finished the main storyline and I still have plenty to see in Odyssey's Greece, and it's a joy to keep on exploring. No-one's made an open-world RPG with this much depth and brilliance since The Witcher 3. This really is the ultimate Creed."