Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is as close to Greece as you can get without jumping on a plane

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Two years ago, as the creeping pressure of life and work began to weave itself through my body, I came to the conclusion I needed a healthy escape - it was time for a holiday. I searched high and low for the perfect destination - clear skies, blazing sunshine and crystal clear water - the Mediterranean dream. After some thoughtful consideration, I landed on the Greek island of Rhodes, miles from the hustle and bustle of Athens and the liquor-stained strip of Kavos. I was not disappointed.

My time in Greece will forever stay with me - navigating twisting mountain paths lined with pines, mangled as they buckled under a relentless sun, with the faint scent of thyme in the air as the wind swept through the landscape. These are the memories which will stay with me and which I felt could never be recaptured without returning to my island bliss - until I played Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

Myths and memories

The beauty of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and the Assassin’s Creed series as a whole, is the developers’ dedication to creating a living and breathing world which truly reflects the location in which it is set. Details such as Ubisoft’s use of Greek actors, and using the Greek spellings and pronunciations of names teleports us away from the Western stereotypes and into a world rich with history and culture.

In my three-hour play time, I barely made a dent in the main storyline. Not only because of the sheer size of Odyssey, but due to the time spent just soaking up the atmosphere. Riding my horse past crumbling mud houses with chipped clay roof tiles, wild mountain goats and makeshift paths - I could almost smell the thyme air again, I could feel the sun on my skin.

As I trotted around Mount Ainos on the Ionian island of Cephalonia (AKA the starting area which is nowadays home to a National Park), in pursuit of a quest, I was drawn to the shoreline in the distance. Shipwrecked ruins lay on the edge of the clear blue waters I so fondly remember, and I felt myself just wanting to spend hours embracing the scenery. 

And it wasn’t simply the picturesque scenery which stoked the love of Greece in my heart. The small bustling markets, with all walks of people and pushy merchants peddling various wares, both an assault and delight on the senses. 

My short hands on time with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey provided merely a snippet of the cultural and historical offerings on display. The story sees you progress through both mainland Greece and its sister islands - each with their own unique people, flora, animals and biomes.

Just a tribute

Diehard fans of the franchise, who care little for the aesthetics, will be equally impressed as they find themselves Spartans on sprawling battlefields, kicking through enemy shield defences and slicing their way to victory against the odds. While those who prefer the subtle approach will better appreciate sneaking through ancient, Grecian vineyards and silently assassinating foes.

In one instance, I found myself tracking down bandits for a tense follower who had his tributes to a Greek god stolen - and was concerned he was being punished as a result. I crept through the crack behind the ancient God’s shrine and through the darkness of the bandit’s lair, keeping my eyes peeled for ledges to gain a vantage point - a quick and stealthy assassination would be the cleanest and easiest. 

A small ledge above me provides a way to access the upper area of the cavern where the tributes were, luckily it was guarded only by a solo bandit leader. Quickly and quietly, I assassinate him from behind - sticking my sword straight into his spine. Time to deal with the others. 

While I could easily sneak out of the lair with the tributes and without being spotted, I decided the most enjoyable approach would be to take out each of the other bandits - one by one. I jump down from the upper area and into a small patch of long grass. Whistling to draw the bandits near individually, I take out the remaining few with a series of speedy throat slashes and heart stabbings. 

If you aren’t one for the scenic route when it comes to the Assassin’s Creed tour, then you’ll be pleased to know the activities are still as bloodthirsty as ever.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is due for release on October 5.