Assassin's Creed Origins | game review
Stalk like an Egyptian.
Game summary: Ancient Egypt, a land of majesty and intrigue, is disappearing in a ruthless fight for power. Unveil dark secrets and forgotten myths as you go back to the one founding moment: The Origins of the Assassin’s Brotherhood. (Steam)
I initially tried Assassin's Creed Origins not long after it came out and, while I thought it was decent enough then, it didn't really grab me and quickly became another title in a continuously-growing backlog of games to beat as other, better titles came out. One of those titles happened to be the next game in this series, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, which I enjoyed hugely and is what prompted me to return to this game.
The problem then was that a game coming out later had all kinds of quality of life fixes and little tweaks to make the overall experience that little bit more cohesive, plus it had my favourite protagonist since Ezio's trilogy in the form of Kassandra as the lead. Considering that the previous game to Origins, Assassin's Creed Syndicate, also had the wonderful Evie Frye, Bayek of Siwa just couldn't match their charms.
Don't get me wrong, in Syndicate you are forced to play the majority of the story missions as Jacob, but at least you could spend the rest of the time running around as Evie. Here, there are shorter sequences where you can control Bayek's wife, Aya, but most of her missions are naval battles where we don't really get to see what she plays like at length.
This isn't to say that having female leads automatically makes these games better - again, Ezio is still my favourite Assassin of the lot by some distance - but Bayek didn't really work for me as a character in his own right and was unfortunate to have his game sandwiched between two titles where the voice actresses Victoria Atkin (Evie) and Melissanthi Mahut (Kassandra) knocked it out of the park.
This isn't to knock Abubakar Salim's efforts as Bayek, but how he was written and came across fell a little flat to me in comparison, and he was unfortunately unable to elevate the material in the same way the two women did. There are moments - well, extended sequences really considering the size of the game - where I got what I wanted from Bayek and saw how much more I could've enjoyed his story, but there just wasn't enough of that in the game for me to really connect with him.
And you should also understand that this is a minority opinion, with a lot of people really liking Bayek! He just felt too lacking in agency for me, constantly being ordered around and told what to do, putting his own personal desires aside to carry out acts for others and expressing very little irritation at having to do so, which I definitely felt as a player being ordered to stop my progress because Bayek wouldn't stand up for himself.
Bayek's character isn't helped by the story feeling a little too stretched out for me - this is a much longer game than Syndicate and only really has the one central story compared to the three intertwining branches Kassandra benefitted from in Odyssey. Part of what kept me playing the latter was being able to switch from one branch to another if I wanted to mix things up a little - an option unavailable here.
Despite the negativity above, Assassin's Creed Origins is still a game I enjoyed playing and, if you prefer you ancient civilisations Egyptian rather than Greek, then you might well love this as the various regions of Egypt you travel through are pretty uniformly gorgeous to play through and the controls are simple enough to pick up that most players should be able to beat it if they put the time in.
I would just warn anyone who's already played Odyssey that this is still a clear step down from that game - which is also very long, befitting the title in fairness - and committing a similar amount of time to a game lacking some of the evolution an extra year of developing alongside feedback from Origins might be a bit to much for some people, especially with so many other great open world games out there.
Assassin's Creed Origins is a good game, but it does feel like a step backwards after playing Odyssey first, especially not with the characters not clicking for me either. It does look and sound great, while the controls are at least good enough to get you through the game without much issue, but unless you have a liking for the Egyptian setting, then you might want to skip this and go for Odyssey instead.