Kit Kat’s ‘take a break’ slogan is wiser than we appreciate. It solves everything. Whether you’re having a hard time at work or struggling to beat that damn Cuphead boss, taking a time-out will leave you feeling reinvigorated so you can later bulldoze through any obstacle in your way.
So after the Assassin’s Creed series’ loss of momentum in the past few years its developers decided that a year-long break was the best move – and how right they were.
After spending four hours playing Origins, I can confidently say this is the most promising Creed game in absolute yonks. And that’s not just down to the scenic Egyptian setting.
With significant updates to the combat, the introduction of a deep RPG system and a world that truly feels alive, I’m so impressed by the results of this one-year hiatus that I’m seriously considering taking one myself. Sorry, boss.
Welcome to Egypt
Ubisoft has swapped the claustrophobic city life of recent Creed games for the sweeping-desert vistas of Ancient Egypt, and by doing so, they’re on to an absolute winner. Pyramids. Sphinxes. Tutankhamun. The possibilities are genuinely exciting.
It all looks spectacular, too. You can see every individual glass of blade bend as you crawl through an oasis, as well as specs of sands as you slide down dunes. And all the pyramids and mountains on the horizon? Ubisoft assures me that every one of them can be explored.
Predictably, the story takes advantage of this Ancient Egyptian setting, as you assume control of a Medjay (aka Egyptian mega-soldier) who gets dragged into conflict via the typical Assassins-versus-Templars struggle.
Even if the plot seems to be the Creed formula of old at its core, I’m still eagerly waiting to delve more into this corrupt world as the brooding hero Bayek. And for bonus points, there's no Animus in sight!
A Whole New World
With Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn setting a high standard for open worlds, Origins has decided to up its game in this respect. While previous settings such as Jerusalem and Venice were wonderfully realised, they never truly felt that they thrived beyond our presence.
Egypt’s different. There were many occasions when I stumbled on tax collectors pushing about civilians or crocodiles attacking fisherman. These weren’t necessarily side quests either. You could intervene, watch from afar, or simply move on.
To push this immersion even further, Ubisoft claims that there’s no “game over’ screen if you fail a mission – unless you die of course. Failed to stealthily follow your target or perhaps they managed to escape? The game will continue, only for you to locate your target again within the sprawling map.
Your actions will shape the world too, but you may also suffer consequences as a result. Keep causing trouble and someone will call in a bounty hunter to take care of you. Hiding from them won’t give you much joy, as they won’t disappear. They’re ever-present on the map, doing their best to find and kill you. Think of them like the police in GTA.
Look before you creep
Think you can simply kill the aforementioned bounty hunter? Think again. Thanks to a new RPG system, yourself and every single enemy has an assigned numerical level representing their strength and difficulty to kill.
When attempting to infiltrate a camp of bandits significantly stronger than myself, I thought the old-fashioned stealth approach would do the business. But upon sneaking up on the bandit leader and attempting to gut him with my hidden blade, I discovered that he was strong enough to survive the attack. Sure, I still wounded him, but it mattered little since he went on to bash my skull in with a mace.
The new system means you need to be extra careful when targeting enemies – even a couple of levels difference can be a proper struggle. While this does add in a new-found feeling of progression for the series, it also means you’ll have to grind by completing tedious side missions.
This may be off-putting for some, but when the rewards include unlocking abilities that allow you to curve your arrows or infect corpses with contagious diseases, I was happily slaying hippos for NPCs in distress.