There is only so many times you can revisit the same idea before it gets dull. Assassin’s Creed has battled with this topic and tried to spice things up by changing the setting, over the content. In some cases, such as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, this worked, but in others it did not. Assassin’s Creed: Origins hopes to do that with Egypt. With the series being met with mixed results, is this sandy adventure an oasis or mirage?
Assassin’s Creed: Origins tells a very familiar story for the franchise. Players control Bayek, a medjay, who wants to exact revenge on a shadowy organization. Despite his role being one of a protector, Bayek is motivated by revenge. After losing something important to him, he decides to find the men responsible and bring them to justice. At first this seems like a simple task, one that is far more complicated than meets the eye.
If there is a problem with the story, it’s that it doesn’t go anywhere new. Bayek’s quest is not unlike Ezio and other assassins that came after him, making the mysteries the only exciting part. This doesn’t take away from the journey per se, just that it feels very familiar. Be it killing your first conspirator, which includes an alternate reality, fantasy, final stand off, or unlocking the door, we’ve been there and done this before.
Even if the story can be improved, there is a lot to say about the journey, over the destination. The land of Egypt in Assassin’s Creed: Origins is lovely. From diverse scenery, fascinating buildings, waterways, plant life and yes, sand, there is a lot to see. This is part of what makes the ability to get on a mount and set them to auto navigate.
By doing this, instead of focusing on where to go or how to get there, you can enjoy the ride. Look at the scenery, examine the world, notice all the small things or just kick back and relax. This also takes care of one of the most daunting thing in any waypoint based system, which is figuring out how to get from point a to b. Some games do a better job by showing part way points that navigate players around obstacles, but this system just takes players there, which is, if nothing else, handy.
The gameplay has also seen a number of improvements. One of the biggest is combat, taking a fairly clunky system to a more fluid and cinematic one. It still needs some improvements, as it can get dull in the long term, but still a notable improvement. Another is the ability to climb more things and explore the world around you. It isn’t quite as impressive as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, though it’s certainly a step closer to that type of experience.
Perhaps the most exciting element is making the world feel real. Notable characters make an appearance, with some of the quests being based off stuff that supposedly happened. How much you get from this will depend on how well versed you are, but I still applaud the attention to detail.
Even though Assassin’s Creed: Origins does many things right, it could still be better. For instance, it doesn’t take long for the experience to feel sequenced. Get a quest, go to a location, use the bird to survey the area until you eventually find the objective, get it and then return. Part of what makes this so dull is looking for the objective. There are more than enough mechanics to make it easy to find, it’s just the process of looking in that general area long enough to find it. The same can be said about day and night.
The idea certain things can only be done at certain times is interesting, if only to make the experience feel closer to reality, though one of the first skills lets you basically change the time. Holding a button and having the scene change to night is really no different than finding the NPC and then suddenly it’s night.
Despite being harsh on Assassin’s Creed: Origins, I wouldn’t call it a bad game. Sure, you could swap Bayek for Ezio and I probably wouldn’t notice the different, but this doesn’t stop it from being a compelling experience. There are twists, turns and plenty of brutal kills to make the journey better than the destination. Similar things can be said for the gameplay. Combat might get dull and looking for the objective tedious, but there are many different weapon choices, complete with different kill visuals, to change things up. Just like players can always look the old fashion way, over using additional help. Combine this with a lovely world, improved quests and the awesome mount system and you have an experience that will appeal to open-world and Assassin’s Creed fans alike.
[Editor’s Note: Assassin’s Creed: Origins was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]