by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Ancient Egypt has always fascinated me – the Pyramids, the massive stone statues in the desert, and the hieroglyphics. The fact that an ancient culture could accurately produce some of the greatest architectural displays of all time is just beyond comprehension. And anyone who knows me, knows that a visit down the Nile to see the Pyramids of Giza and the temples at Abu Simbel is on my bucket list. Assassin’s Creed Origins gives me a chance – in video game form at least – to visit ancient Egypt and experience life amongst the inhabitants of a proud nation with a long history.
Assassin’s Creed Origins has players taking on the role of Bayek, a Medjay or protector of the people of ancient Egypt. During the reign of Ptolemaic kings, things seem to go awry for Bayek. His son is taken captive by a masked band, wanting Bayek to perform a task they believe the Medjay should be able to complete. But when Bayek confronts his son’s masked captors, a scuffle breaks out and Bayek’s son, Khemu is killed. It is at this point that Bayek leaves his home of Siwa. On his return, he is focused on finding the killers behind the masks and making them pay.
The main storyline takes Bayek place across much of Egypt and encompasses Cleopatra’s rise to power and the introduction of the Roman forces into Egypt. At times Bayek questions his own loyalty to the two sides struggling for power throughout the area. And as the title suggests, his journey will lead to Bayek’s role in the birth of the Assassin’s Brotherhood. The story generally flows quite smoothly, interspersed with flashbacks from when Bayek and his son spent time together and when the Animus is being used by curious young woman known as Layla.
Side quests too, flow nicely and are impressively varied. I never felt like the side quests were there as fillers. They were extensions to the main game, allowing gamers to further explore the ancient sand covered lands. Completing side missions is certainly a way to gain XP and leveling up, but they were never a grind. Early on, I even found that by skipping the side missions, main storyline opponents were stronger and carried better weapons than Bayek when I reached them, making life tougher than it probably needed to be.
Exploring and questing isn’t just limited to land and underground caverns either. Bayek can dive underwater to recover treasure and quest items. On land, threats are generally limited to Pharaoh’s troops, but water areas have their own dangers. Hippos and alligators can frequent various areas, and if you’re not careful, they can provide a tragic, yet somewhat hilarious end to Bayek’s journey.
The team at Ubisoft has done an amazing job of bringing ancient Egypt to life. From the village life to the wondrous temples, to the rocky outcrops, to the lakes and rivers, everything looks as though you would imagine Ptolemaic era Egypt to be. Sand covers much of the outer lands, but for the most part, villages are bustling with villagers selling their wares or walking through the streets. Soldiers patrol the main thoroughfares as well, and if you happen to attack one, be prepared to be surrounded shortly after by some of his colleagues. Characters are well animated, and I was rather impressed by the seamlessness of the visuals gameplay and the cutscenes. Day and night cycles also play a part in the game, as enemy troops in their barracks are often asleep when you enter at night, allowing you to sneak around much easier than you would during height of the sun.
Beautiful visuals and a soundtrack to match. Smooth combat and controls.
Some minor story pacing issues. A couple of graphic glitches.