I have been away from the Assassin’s Creed series for some time and I truly believed Origins would be an excellent time to return. After the first game, I put a kind of black mark on the franchise, after feeling that sequels would be the same, grindy and same mission type experiences. The marketing for Origins is what has drawn me back to the series, so here I am, hoping for a more varied experience.

Bayek is one of the most interesting characters of the series, he is the last of the Medjay, an ancient Egyptian military force. The role used to mean something, but now all that meaning has faded away with the rule of Ptolemy XIII. If that wasn’t enough, Bayek’s son was killed by the Order of the Ancients, a group that are controlling Egypt through Ptolemy’s rule.

Our hero has lost so much and appears to have just one thing left, his love, Aya. With all of his woe’s this has turned Bayek into a revenge hungry killer. He’s an extremely damaged person which I find fascinating to play, to see what decisions he will make when having almost nothing to lose or what he has left is worth so much that Bayek just can’t bear to be torn from it.

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The hunt is on and it’s time to bring the Order down, one by one, and that is when I got alarm bells ringing in my head. These bells were telling me, already it reminds me of the first game, where you have to go defeat the boss enemies one by one etc throughout. To get to each boss you first have to meet the requirements, in this game it’s a level requirement as opposed to doing a set of missions before being able to go for them.

However, you still have to grind through missions to get to the level needed and some can be similar in formula. Ranging from quests that will have you go free an imprisoned citizen and either escort or carry them to safety or others that will force you to kill a number of enemies inhabiting a location. There is greater variation in the quest designs than before but not enough to stop that feeling that your just rinse and repeating similar style missions. There is a bit of a grind to ensure your high enough a level for the next main quest.

Throughout the 20+ hour experience, a whole cast of different and interesting characters with fascinating stories are encountered, be it in the main story or the side quests. Some stories would be similar but only in the sense that an NPC has a loved one that’s been taken from them, either kidnapped or killed, that comes up frequently but in different ways, which is refreshing.

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Combat is fun for the most part, being able to keep swinging away and dealing damage, until you get struck that is. Once an enemy hits you, it feels jarring which it should in some respect, but you get dazed for just a little bit too long allowing enemies to hit you repeatedly, sometimes to the point of death. Of course, this can be combated by playing a bit more tactically, use your block and parries available and try not to let their blows land. I feel there’s enough balance to the combat that if you die, it is your fault for not paying attention to your surroundings or just not timing the counters correctly.

Free-running is perhaps the key feature of the entire franchise that resonates with so many people. In fact, Assassin’s Creed has put parkour in games, on the map sort of speak. Other franchises since the first Assassin’s Creed have put in similar gameplay traits such as Middle-Earth, Sunset Overdrive and Infamous. It’s a lot more refined than it has ever been but I feel it’s hard to get right because of so many variables. Running down a corridor and slightly bumping into a pillar and wall would then force my character to try and climb it when I just want to continue running. Definitely better than before but not the best it potentially could be.

The world is breath-taking, filled with stunning vistas and awe-inspiring structures. ancient Egypt has been brought to life in this vast-open world and features an impressive amount of variety in its architecture. I can only imagine what It’s like in 4K after only having played it on the Xbox One S. Colours are deep and textures are highly detailed, fantastic for exploration and immersion.

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The enemies you encounter aren’t just human, but animals too and the character models for them are so defined. Crocodiles look menacing thanks to their facial detail and the lions are just beautiful. Almost makes it hard to kill some of them, but you got to get that leather and pelt somehow which are used as resources. These resources are required to upgrade equipment such as the breastplate for increased health and the hidden blade for increased hidden blade damage.  This system works fine, however you have to hunt a lot of animals to get to the higher upgrade tiers, which is sure to be a way to incentivize the microtransactions.

Players can purchase helix credits with real-life money. These credits can then be used to get the in-game currency, resources, ability points, weapon packs, skins and other DLC. The first three items I listed are under the time-saver category which basically says you can get through this game faster by giving us more money. These aren’t necessary to complete the game by any means, but if your short on time it may be a requirement for some.

The most noticeable thing about the sound design is the voice acting, there’s a ton of different voices with top notch acting that bring the characters to life. That isn’t it, the sound effects when in battle are rewarding and feel true to life. Be it the clash of metal, sizzle of fire or the impact noise from an arrow hitting wood, its truly enjoyable to be in a fight.

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After a two-year absence it is a great return for the series, delivering a full and fleshed out world with plenty to do. Characters are interesting and varied, and combat is enjoyable. Microtransactions are present but don’t feel invasive. It is yet another drawn out and grindy massive experience but I feel there is enough depth to the content that keeps you invested.

OVERALL: 8.8/10 – GREAT

Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.

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