Started off as a spinoff and a reimagination of the Prince of Persia series, Prince of Persia – Assassins gave birth to this critically acclaimed franchise. With its fluid animations, next-gen graphics, and traversal freedom, 2007’s Assassin’s Creed quickly became an instant favorite of players worldwide; it was a milestone in Ubisoft’s development history and a door to a new era of gaming.
The success of the first game drove innovations in the next titles and we got top-notch Creed releases one after the other. Ubisoft also kept upgrading the Anvil (now known as AnvilNext) game engine every release.
The fight between order and chaos, the templars, and the assassins throughout history, the discovery of Pieces of Eden, ancient relics from the First Civilization, Desmond Miles, a modern-day Assassin trying to connect all loose ends, all of this was the central theme of earlier Assassin’s Creed games. By killing off Desmond in Assassins’ Creed 3 the franchise started losing its identity.
The later releases still felt like AC games but the discontinuation of the Desmond plotline made an irreversible hole in the AC universe. By retaining the core gameplay and compelling story, the newer games managed to keep the fans interested and even entertained.
But the latest installment, Odyssey hardly feels like it belongs here with its heavy emphasis on roleplaying makes it a hardcore RPG video game. The combat is clunky at times and gets frustrating as compared to the smooth and satisfying combat system of the earlier Creed games.
The hack and slash approach, a format well suited for one-on-one fights and boss battles, is just not right when it comes to beating multiple enemies that surround the player. The art direction has deviated so much so that it is almost impossible to guess the franchise which Odyssey belongs to just by looking at gameplay footage alone, which speaks volumes about how much or rather how less of Assassin’s Creed is left in Odyssey and the franchise.
It isn’t necessarily an issue with the creators exclusively working on Assassin’s Creed, the problem lies within Ubisoft as a company. Most of Ubisoft’s newer games look like clones of each other with a lot of focus on RPG. Far Cry New Dawn and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey are more similar than different when it comes to their core gameplay. There seems to be no sign that things will be any different going forward, we’ll have to wait and see what Ubisoft comes up with next year.
Many franchises that have gone through the cycle of loss of identity are again going back to the roots and gaining their lost audience back. Tomb Raider reboot and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019, are two of the best examples of AAA franchises recognizing or even beginning to recognize and put an effort into understanding what made their games great and the fans stick and delivering on exactly that, which is a rare thing these days.