Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Mythological Elements are Grounded in Realism While Still Being Supernatural
Ubisoft's way of explaining myths within the world of Assassin's Creed Odyssey utilizes callbacks from the franchise's history while also playing off of human perception.
Ever since I learned that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey would be taking us to Greece this time around, I’ve been curious about how it would approach the myths and gods that are often most synonymous with this region of the world. Despite the franchise having always contained elements of science fiction, more often than not, it has tried to remain as rooted in realism as possible. Still, I knew that Ubisoft would somehow tie-in these mythological components, but I just wasn’t sure the way in which they’d explain it.
After playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for nearly two hours along with chatting to the game’s creative director, I have a better idea of how this will work and–in short–it’s pretty smart.
Above all else, the developers at Ubisoft wanted this world of Greece to stay rooted in realism, while simultaneously folding in many of the fantastical parts that Greek mythology brings with it. Rather than flippantly adding so many creatures and mythological beasts that are well-known by many, Ubisoft wanted to instead have Assassin’s Creed Odyssey reflect the way in which people from this period viewed their world.
“We wanted to tap into the beliefs of the people who lived in that world. They truly believed in gods, myths, and legends,” Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s creative director Jonathan Dumont told me in a recent interview. “So a lot of times, when you’ll be hearing about, let’s say, a guy with one eye–the Cyclops–it’s not going to be a Cyclops, it’s going to be a dude with one eye. We tried to have the player guessing a little bit.”
It’s uncertain just how many different mythical creatures will be in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, but it seems that those that are more grounded in reality to begin with, such as the Cyclops, will be the most basic understandings of what they are. Through word of mouth and tall tales told from the people of Greece, these simple explanations for creatures became skewed to become the legendary creatures that many think of them as. I’m interested to play through Odyssey and see more of how this plays out because the idea of things not being as they seem sounds pretty funny.
During my demo of the game, however, I came into contact with one creature that absolutely wasn’t grounded in this manner of realism. The few hours of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey that I experienced centered on tracking down the Gorgon Medusa, and this serpent-haired monster was everything that you would typically expect to be associated with the creature–most notably containing the ability to turn people into stone. Clearly, Medusa wasn’t simply a tall-tale that the people or Greece had turned into a larger legend, so what was up?
Dumont explained to me that certain myths within Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will still be closer to what you’d generally expect, supernatural abilities and all. The way in which they’ll explain these things into the world though is by use of artifacts–Pieces of Eden–and ancient temples from the First Civilization. At the same time, he also reminded me that what we see in this world is only through the perception of the person whose shoes we are in via the power of the Animus.
“The way that we treat it, as you’ll see in the game, it is all tied to artifacts as well. The powers of the artifacts and what they can do — are you really seeing what you’re seeing?” Dumont explained to me. “You are experiencing what a person has seen in Ancient Greece through the Animus, so is this perception okay? We’re playing off of that a little bit.”
From what I saw specifically, Medusa in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey seems to have been brought to life through Pieces of Eden, artifacts that have been in this series for quite some time. Pieces of Eden have been present in the Assassin’s Creed series ever since it first began back in 2007 with Altair. These magical artifacts have appeared time-and-time again throughout the series, and now they seem to be one of the many ways in which myths and legends will be explained in Odyssey. It’s a somewhat logical way for Ubisoft to bring more of these mythical elements into the game while still staying in-line with the franchise’s roots.
It would be nearly impossible for the Assassin’s Creed series to visit Greece without including these myths that are so intrinsically tied to Greek culture, but it’s the way in which Ubisoft has decided to handle their inclusion that has me excited. Having a mix of both legitimate legendary monsters along with those that have been inflated through word-of-mouth is a good idea and will keep me on my toes while I play.
Dumont ended by telling me that most of the mythical parts of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey won’t really be tied to the main story path which means that I’ll definitely be doing plenty of side activities in my time with the game just so I can see all of the unique ways in which they’ve opted to include these typically fictitious portions of Greek myth.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey comes to PC, PS4, and Xbox One on October 5, 2018. Pre-orders for both the standard version and Gold Steelbook version are available for pre-order via Amazon. Meanwhile, the more extravagant collectors out there can grab the Pantheon Collector’s Edition via Ubisoft’s Store.
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