The new Assassin’s Creed game is set in Ancient Egypt.
Subtitled Origins, it’s also the first non-annual game since the 2007 original. Directed, this time, by Ashraf Ismail and Jean Guesdon, Origins follows the story of a Medjay named Bayek who gets swept into the conspiracy-laden sands of Egyptian history. It ain’t winning prizes for historical accuracy, but it’ll do.
It’s the first game to return to the Middle East since the original, which was set in Palestine and Syria. We’ve all been excited for it, but the real question is whether it’s any good.
On to the reviews.
Polygon liked the game. Reviewer Colin Campbell was taken with the craft that went into the world: “I enjoy being a part of this world, and my enjoyment is no fad. Even after 50 hours of play, I’m still finding things that please my senses. I spend a lot of time just trotting around between quests, and I’m perfectly happy to do so.” He also praised the story, and the new iteration of the gameplay, but found himself wishing the series would give it a complete overhaul. Read the review here.
Above: Bayek and Aya. (Ubisoft)
Gamespot was happy, too, but more reserved in its praise. A highlight of the review is their sheer delight in the game’s world-building and understanding of the context of history: “Playing through Bayek's journey is surprisingly educational, making each event and landmark--even the gladiator arenas and chariot race tracks--an opportunity to learn more about the setting and period. From general chatter of crowds in Alexandria, to the various notes and logs found from points of interests and bandit camps, you'll come to learn quite a lot about the past ages of Egypt, what led to the "present" state of its Ptolemaic rule, and the cause of the social strife throughout. Showing instances of culture clash between Greco-Roman and Egyptian influences, the core narrative and side-stories are engaging and feel meaningful, tackling issues of racism, colonialism, and the systemic misogyny of the times.”
Eurogamer drop their usual eyeroll-worthy pun and echo both Gamespot and Polygon when the say the game is a cleaner, tighter version of something familiar: “At times, I can't remember what came from where, whether Origins is stealing the system in which a circle contracts as you hunt for targets from above, say, or whether it's using a system which it invented and someone else subsequently stole. Either way, everywhere you look in Origins you'll find things that you have done in other games, probably quite recently. And as these games converge, they all get a little more interchangeable, and a little blander.” The review ends with praise, however; Origins seems to be one of the better Assassin’s Creed games.
Trusted Reviews’ take is similar to Polygon’s when it says the game’s story, which is complex and largely pays off, can get a little exhausting, adding, “Assassin’s Creed Origins is the revitalisation I was desperately hoping for. My cautious optimism has been rewarded by an excellent open-world adventure that could lead to an exciting future for Ubisoft’s blockbuster franchise.”
Above: The game does look gorgeous. (Screenshot taken from Kotaku's review.) (Ubisoft)
Kotaku liked the game, but wished it had experimented more: “Each of Origins’ big new ideas is something I’ve seen before, from the leveling and sidequest structure of The Witcher 3 to the combat of Dark Souls. There’s nothing wrong with borrowing good ideas from other good games, of course, even if Origins’ execution of those ideas is uneven. But I regularly felt the absence of the sorts of interesting new concepts I’d grown accustomed to from this series. There’s nothing in Origins that’s along the lines of Brotherhood’s recruitable followers, Black Flag’s ship-to-ship swashbuckling and island exploration, Syndicate’s split-protagonist storyline and grappling hook, or even Revelations’ crowd-manipulating bombs and city takeover systems. Origins plays it safe in comparison, with scant surprises from start to finish. If you’ve watched 30 minutes of this game, you probably have a pretty good sense of what the next 30 hours will look like.”
The game released yesterday for Windows, PS4, and Xbox One. We’re stoked.
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