Welcome to the Creed – An Assassin’s Creed: Origins Review
Finally, after a couple weeks, I have completed a majority of the game. 47 hours in, I still have not unlocked everything, uncovered every part of the map, or visited every location. I still have some story mission left. Based on that, among other attributes like an amazingly cultural and emotional narrative and brutal gameplay, I am cutting right to the chase and deeming Assassin’s Creed: Origins the best title in the series. More details after the jump!
Origins has succeeded where every other entry in this series has not: given it identity. The series has breached the surface with this narrative attribute, as evidenced by Ezio’s saga, but never truly explored its depths. The majority of characters–I am excluding the Frye twins because they grew into the Creed–had their motives to join the Brotherhood, yes, but that was all the characters had. They were mostly flat.
Bayek on the other hand, has a completely developed personality. Not only is has he been shaped by his environment, the environment likewise is shaped by him. You can argue this is a typical trope for the series, and its true, but none has done it with such finesse as Origins. As I traipsed through the Egyptian sand as Bayek, listening to passersby call his name in excitement, something occurred to me: this man has a reputation. People adore him. He is admired because his station as medjay has thrust him into the public eye, and he ALWAYS does what is best for HIS people. If there were one word to describe this character, it would be hope. Almost akin to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games heroine, Katniss Everdeen, Bayek becomes a symbol for something greater than himself.This hope echoes through the narrative all the way down to the smallest side quest. Much like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the outcome of Bayek’s actions are palpable within the environment, and they actually FEEL like change; Inspiring a rebellion against Ptolemy’s reign from simply being seen taking action against his forces. Beyond that, Bayek is passionate about every aspect of his life. From his marriage to Aya, to art and the history of his Egypt, he breathes life into everything he does.
It’s this passion that fuels his campaign to weed out every member of the Order of Ancients and it is this passion that would set the course for the Assassin Brotherhood we know of today.
That being said, what is an RPG without lengthy quests? I actually don’t have an answer for that, but another attribute Origins took from The Witcher franchise is its quest structure. Literally every single quest is lengthy and has narrative weight among the main line. The team took great care when crafting these quests, down to the smallest details. I was in the middle of a quite heart-wrenching mission where various scrolls were scattered about a grisly murder scene, deepening the lore with little snippets of narrative; some of these scrolls were letters written by the victim, while others depicted a bleak future falling from the grace of the gods.
Beyond the realm of narrative, graphics and sound remain a Ubisoft standard. Locked at 30 frames for consoles, some of the rocky textures tend to be a little grainy and every so often I received some screen tearing and pop-in, but nothing game breaking. That being said, the vistas and lighting of Ancient Egypt are absolutely beautiful. (See the gallery below the post for my most favorite screenshots.)
The soundtrack is befitting of the setting and absolutely sets the mood of Ancient Egypt. Of the series, it is my personal favorite, but as a lifelong musician, I might be biased. There’s something about the minor pentatonic scale of five tones without halftones.
Menus have been retooled and I believe they are the best in the series. Their animations and designs are subtle and smooth, but it is clear the team took time and care with them. They understood the player would be spending a decent chunk of time within them.
They also took immaculate care of perhaps the biggest attribute of this game: culture. More than any other in the series, Origins taps into a culture with over 6,000 years of mythology and turmoil and does so with accurate and deep depictions. Ismael and the team seriously dug deep in their research for this game and it really shows. From something as simple as a single line of dialogue discussing Sobek’s children, or an entire wall decorated in true-to-life hieroglyphics, Origins offers an immersive and factual depictions of life in Ancient Egypt.
It makes sense then, why the game extends even beyond the last story mission, offering extensive end-game content with free DLC updates (Trials of the Gods–a set of quests where players are pitted against four major Egyptian gods, the first of which is the ever-mysterious god of the dead, Anubis, dropped on the 7th–and Discovery Tour–a self-led exploration mode in which Ubisoft has hired historians and Egyptologists to educate, is slated for next year) and quests for level-capped players, the game continues to give even after all is said and done.
All things considered, Assassin’s Creed: Origins has truly changed the series for the better. While it suffers from some technical and graphical issues, between the superbly deeper narrative direction, character development, immersive setting and culture, the game fixes nearly everything that went stale with its predecessors and takes the series in a brand new direction.
For that, and a wonderful experience in my all-time favorite historical period, I give Assassin’s Creed: Origins a