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Assassin's Creed Odyssey
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a historical action/adventure role-playing game (RPG) for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. Taking on the role of a mercenary in search of answers to his or her (players can select the gender of their character) past, the hero carves a bloody path through thousands of enemies on both sides of a brutal war, with vicious scenes and animations showing impaling, bludgeoning, hanging, and other forms of slaughter. Players have the ability to shape the hero's personality to some degree by making key decisions that could be viewed as compassionate and good or spiteful and murderous, though the hero is always on a trajectory toward taking down a villainous organization threatening the world. Parents should also know that in addition to the extreme violence and gray morality, this game contains lots of strong language -- including "f--k" and "s--t" -- and a number of suggestive scenes where the player's character escorts someone offscreen to have sex. There's also a generous amount of nudity, ranging from men and women in the world to statues that also show genitalia. Finally, players can choose to purchase items with real money to give them an advantage in this large game, and as it's the latest installment of the long-running Assassin's Creed franchise, they can also gain items if they've played previous installments in the series.
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What's it about?
ASSASSIN'S CREED ODYSSEY throws players into a massive and highly detailed re-creation of Ancient Greece, in the role of a powerful mercenary descended from the famed Leonidas, king of Sparta. Choosing to play as either a man (Alexios) or a woman (Kassandra), players begin their adventure in the northwest corner of the Greek Isles, having been raised by a crafty businessman after washing up on shore as a child. Filled with a need to both understand his or her past and see the world, our hero soon leaves the small atoll, traveling a massive domain of islands, towns, villages, farms, forts, and seas brimming with war and mercantile ships. All of these lands are being torn apart by the Peloponnesian War, which is being waged between Athens and Sparta. It quickly becomes apparent, though, that war isn't Greece's only woe. A mysterious cult led by a secret cabal of powerful people is undermining the Greek way of life and growing in strength. Players also spend time helping civilians in need, hunting animals, confronting other mercenaries looking to collect a bounty on our hero's head, and serving as a soldier for hire on both sides of the war. Along the way, players will earn and upgrade their gear and learn new abilities. Part of the game also unfolds on the sea, where players command a steadily evolving ship and crew in naval battles small and grand. Expect to spend a minimum of 50 hours working through the campaign -- and perhaps significantly longer if you want to fully complete the game.
Is it any good?
This series may have begun as an open-world action adventure focusing on cinematic parkour hijinks, but it has now fully transformed into an action role-playing game (RPG) experience. Assassin's Creed Odyssey, much like 2017's Assassin's Creed Origins, is focused not just on the historical world-building that's long been a hallmark of the franchise -- though the Ancient Greece on offer here is a magnificent re-creation of that much studied time and place -- but also traditional RPG elements. That means earning experience, leveling up, learning new abilities, crafting and upgrading items, taking on side quests, making story-altering decisions in dialogue, and scouring dungeons in the form of caves, tombs, and fortresses. It's an epic journey, with an enormous world stretching for miles in all directions that takes scores of hours to fully explore and -- thanks to random timed daily missions -- an all but endless array of mini-objectives and goals. And the inclusion of sailing and naval battles in their full form (as opposed to one-off bonus missions, as we saw in Origins) is a real treat, especially with new abilities like being able to cleave ships in two. In terms of scope, ambition, and visual presentation, Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a phenomenal achievement sure to knock the socks off most players.
That said, it's also a bit untidy. The war between Sparta and Athens, for example, often doesn't feel fully formed. You'll be faced with plenty of massive battles and tasked to choose sides, but frequently without knowing anything about the conflict. This makes your character a true mercenary fighting for money rather than people or ideals. And the franchise's overarching story of the disagreement between the Templars and Assassins seems to have been given short shrift, with little new or interesting information provided for much of the adventure. Plus, some of the systems don't seem fully formed. Crafting, for example, is overly simplistic, seeming to exist solely so that we have a reason to harvest resources and a way to keep our favorite hard-earned weapons and gear with us as we level up. And while combat is extremely sophisticated and a highlight of the overall experience, there are times when it feels unbalanced. You'll switch from being an unstoppable warrior to being nearly unable to make a dent in your enemies -- or vice versa -- simply because you entered a new town, learned a new Assassin's skill, or upgraded a weapon. What we're really saying here is simply to set your expectations. Assassin's Creed Odyssey is enormous and beautiful and full of fun things to do, but it's not perfect. So long as you understand this, you'll be in for a great historical adventure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sex, gender, and body image. When choosing to play as Alexios or Kassandra, what was your decision based on? Your own gender? Curiosity to see how certain scenes might play out?
In what ways is the Ancient Greece that's portrayed in Assassin's Creed Odyssey faithful to what we know about the real Ancient Greece? In what ways is it different?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: UbiSoft
- Release date: October 5, 2018
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, History, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.