Haunted by the Ghost

One who seeks to destabilise the entire world.

Kassandra only seeks to destabilise the political leadership of a region for fortune and glory, which means that she has the moral high ground. She also doesn’t abduct and indoctrinate children into a twisted cult. She tends to solve more problems than she creates, too. Even if the events surrounding Supideo’s parents suggest otherwise. But that was mostly his fault. Mostly. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is a delightfully engaging narrative-driven RPG in which you explore the breathtaking scenery of ancient Greece through a vast ever-evolving open world, while sometimes following the main campaign.

The title isn’t an exaggeration, either- it’s a literal odyssey.

In my folly I had believed that after exploring countless regions, upgrading the Adrestia to legendary status, hiring legendary lieutenants, conquering mythical beasts, defeating hundreds of mercenaries, and dismantling the Cult of Kosmos that the content (and mechanics) would be exhausted.

But there were new mechanics and content aplenty. Besides Legacy of the First Blade and The Fate of Atlantis, two sizeable post-release DLCs, there are also the Lost Tales of Greece, and Mastery mechanics which became available after reaching Lvl 50. Not to mention the fabled Forge of Hephaistos, which I’ve yet to significantly invest in but probably should. I’m also reasonably certain that there’s another cult waiting to be discovered. I knew that it was going to be incredibly content-dense, but I hadn’t anticipated that the density would grow exponentially as the main campaign unfolded. It’s certainly a one-of-a-kind experience. Exhibiting an unparalleled attention to detail which manifests as an absurdly enrapturing single player RPG, strengthening my positive opinion of the Assassin’s Creed series as a whole.

We’re still not sure who calls her that besides Barnabas.

My only criticism is how monotonous the mercenaries become. They’re not necessarily difficult to defeat, especially once you’ve invested heavily in your chosen combat style, and they’re not particularly interesting, but they’re everywhere. You could defeat hundreds (as I have) and there will always be more. I’d hoped that they would be as significant as the Phylakitai from Assassin’s Creed: Origins, but instead they’re little more than a nuisance. Lacklustre at best and frustrating at worst. The rewards for defeating them are worth pursuing, though. I just wish that they were better implemented.

Thankfully, it doesn’t detract from the experience.

But it doesn’t really add to it, either. It’s just there. Much like the abundance of quest items that I’ve yet to find a use for. I’m assuming that the majority will be required for the Lost Tales of Greece, as I’m rapidly running out of quests to complete and yet the items remain in my inventory.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is such a complex experience that it seems insurmountable at times, which is brilliant, but it can be overwhelming if you’re not prepared, and I’ll admit that I wasn’t prepared. Not in the slightest. I was hoping that my time with Assassin’s Creed: Origins would afford enough insight, but Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is the gift that keeps on giving. Incredibly satisfying combat mechanics, meaningful character progression, impressive equipment customisation mechanics, challenging boss encounters, and much more. Due to its ridiculous content density, I’ve decided to write about Legacy of the First Blade and The Fate of Atlantis in separate posts. I’ll be covering The Lost Tales of Greece in those, too. Regardless, I highly recommend Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey to those who enjoy complex RPG experiences.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Amorphous Experiences

Exploration is at the heart of every great adventure.

Whether you’re exploring the irradiated ruins of post-apocalyptic societies, the vast expanse of space, or the vibrancy of ancient Greece there’s always something new to see or do. I seem to be drawn to these experiences nowadays. I don’t really know why, though. Whether it was a conscious decision wrought from previous experience, such as the hours spent scavenging the desolate landscape of the Capital Wasteland, or whether it was the various MMORPGs that encouraged me, is hard to say. But it’s been an interesting transition from the countless JRPGs of my formative years.

Not that I’ve abandoned JRPGs entirely.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch and Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom were both excellent JRPGs. I’ve just decided to invest hundreds of hours into the most recent releases of the Assassin’s Creed series, too. Mostly because of those pesky question marks. Oh, how they haunt me.

Prior to Assassin’s Creed: Origins I’d never experienced anything from the Assassin’s Creed series. While that entry (and those that follow it) are considered the black sheep of the Assassin’s Creed family, I found myself wholly absorbed by the sheer breadth of content available. It’s an incredibly competent RPG with an enthralling main campaign story. I feel the same way about Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, too. Not that I’m anywhere near finishing its main campaign. It’s like a towering chocolate gateaux, where each layer of sponge is a new task to complete and each chocolate curl playfully dusted atop its peaks is a new mechanic. While it may be incredibly alluring- and undoubtedly satisfying- it is best consumed in smaller portions. It would be unwise to attempt to eat a chocolate gateaux of such magnitude in one sitting.

Some doors are better left closed.

Not that I’m complaining. I couldn’t be happier with these purchases, not only have they exceeded every prior expectation but they exhibit complexity often woefully absent from modern RPGs. Divinity: Original Sin has similar immensity, as does its sequel, Divinity: Original Sin 2, both featuring noteworthy character development mechanics. I’d always considered statistical development to be the staple of any RPG but I’ve found many RPGs to be sorely lacking. Offering no attributes (or abilities) to invest in, or affording insignificant progression for doing so.

Which is why the release of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning has inspired me.

The original release, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, is an outstanding RPG, and one that I’d like to revisit. Naturally, the remaster would (arguably) be the best way to do this. But I’ve still got a handful of achievements to unlock in the original release, and I’d like to attempt to unlock those first.

As a result, I’ll (eventually) have two character builds. I’m considering a Finesse/Sorcery hybrid build for the original release, while I’ll probably settle on a Might build for the remaster. I’ve not actually done one of those before. I’ve built a Might/Sorcery hybrid before but never solely Might. I’ll be focusing on various quests in the original release, as many of the achievements I’ve yet to unlock are related to certain quest lines. While I’m greatly interested in the post-release DLC, Fatesworn, in the remaster, as that promises new content. I’ve been intending to revisit Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning for some time, but much like Dark Souls or Fallout 3, which I’d also like to revisit, I’ve not set aside the time to do it. I’m always busy with something else. But I’m going to try to make time for these (and my creative pursuits) in the future.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Tempestuous Savagery

Seething with rage unabated.

I would advise against making Kenork angry, but he exists in a perpetual state of unbridled wrath and I don’t think he knows how to relax. So I’d advise against making him angrier than he already is. Not that I’m sure that’s possible, either. So maybe it’s best if you avoid contact with him at all times. It’s better for your health if you do. Chronicon is a delightfully engaging and tremendously enjoyable ARPG featuring four character classes, satisfying character development, numerous locations to explore, thousands of items to find, dozens of quests to undertake, and much more.

It’s a deceptively content-dense experience.

One that doesn’t end once you’ve completed the main campaign. Allowing you to further refine your build and face the challenges present in Tinka’s Realm, while pushing further beyond Legendary difficulty. Unlocking the Mythic difficulty levels which are significantly more challenging.

Conceiving that build won’t be easy, though. The Berserker, Templar, Warlock, and Warden all have four distinct skill trees. Each specialises in a different damage type and affords bonuses to certain skills, offering unprecedented freedom when developing your build. You won’t need to invest in skills that don’t interest you. Nor will you be limited to a handful of equipment choices, as myriad equipment sets exist that cater to every aspect of your chosen character class. It’s an amazingly rewarding (if not slightly daunting) experience. One that isn’t tarnished by the usual frustrations encountered when farming items, because if you find something that doesn’t fully meet your requirements you can customise it. Either by adding new (or altering existing) enchantments, adding new (or altering existing) sockets, or by transmuting it.

I did advise against making him angry…

Besides the four distinct skill trees, there’s a shared Mastery tree that is available (and partly tailored) to each character class, which primarily affords character development after Lvl 100, but its benefits can be felt long before then. It has basic modifiers (such as +%Lightning Damage) alongside unique modifiers (such as immunity to trap damage), and is customisable to an extent. Allowing you to focus on specific aspects of your build. While simultaneously having complete control over when you invest, how extensively, and which benefits become available as the branch develops.

It’s the superb execution that makes this concept work.

As is true of many concepts present in Chronicon, which might suggest that I’ve got nothing but unending praise for it and its developer, and that is somewhat true, because it’s so refreshing to have meaningful character development that actually influences how your build develops.

I’ve followed Chronicon through Early Access for nearly four years anticipating the full release. Naturally, I had high expectations for it and it has exceeded those expectations in every conceivable way. I wouldn’t say that it’s reached its full potential, though. There are ways to improve the experience or expand existing content, and I’d be surprised if the developer didn’t already have plans to do just that. Regardless of what may (or may not) happen in the future, Chronicon is currently an entirely capable ARPG, built with dedication by its ambitious developer, and delivers an experience that’s wholly engrossing because it’s truly fun to play. Few ARPGs have shown as much promise as Chronicon has, and that’s why I highly recommend it to those who enjoy ARPGs and value purposeful character development.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Thunderous Fists

Righteous punching ensues.

Unlike many of the surprises that I’ve had this year, the full release of Chronicon is a very welcome surprise. I wasn’t aware that it was due (or even planned) to be released this year. But it’s available now and I couldn’t be more excited about revisiting the main campaign, while finally being able to explore the infernal landscape of Act V. I’ve been looking forward to doing that. The patch notes for the full release were extensive, while its lone developer has continued to show their unwavering dedication to delivering the best possible experience by addressing numerous known issues.

Resulting in three post-release patches in less than five days.

Which is why it’s been a pleasure to follow its journey through Early Access, and why I’ve experienced each new update with my poison Warlock while anticipating the full release. It’s been a great journey, too. I’ve known few Early Access titles to change as extensively as Chronicon did.

I’ve decided to temporarily retire my poison Warlock for the full release, though. I’d like to experience the main campaign from a fresh perspective. To see everything from start to finish as a freshly built character would. Not that I’ll be freshly built, as shared progression affords certain advantages, but I won’t be relying on those advantages. Besides taking two Bottomless Bags out of the shared stash. But that’s purely for convenience, and because I have an irrational desire to hoard items. I’ve been actively avoiding the services of Theo, Chantie, and Gemma as well. I doubt that they’d significantly change anything prior to the conclusion of Act III, but I’d rather not use them. I’m hoping to be able to increase the difficulty to Legendary before arriving at Act V, too. Allowing the fabled True Legendary equipment to start appearing.

Drawing strength from the skies above.

I’d been deliberating between a lightning Berserker and a holy Templar prior to release, and eventually settled on the Berserker as they better represented my intentions for this build. Utilising various skills from the Sky Lord tree allows them to deal impressive damage with shouts, while they become exponentially more powerful as their rage increases. They’ve also got excellent base mobility. Alongside naturally heightened health and mana regeneration. This allows them to endure close quarters combat when needed, but easily reposition if they’re taking too much damage.

They can certainly hold their own when facing tough opposition.

Besides Shouts I’ve invested in a single Brawl skill, Lightning Jab, which replaces my default attack, and is solely used to regenerate mana. I won’t be actively increasing the damage for Brawl skills and/or Lightning Jab, as my intention is to greatly improve the damage and efficacy of Shouts.

The diversity and complexity of character development in Chronicon is one of the reasons I’ve been so excited about it. Despite restricting myself to a poison Warlock build, mostly to keep other builds fresh for the full release, I’ve seen how each character class offers new opportunities, and could fundamentally change how you experience the content. I’m also fond of being able to fully customise my equipment to suit my chosen build. I’ve nothing against wading endlessly through a sea of viscera, but actually being able to make use of equipment that you’d otherwise sell or salvage is great. I’ve got nothing but praise for Chronicon (and its developer) because it’s one of the most refreshing, engaging, and wonderfully fun ARPGs in recent years. It’s definitely worth your time if you’re looking for something familiar yet fresh.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Snakes in the Dark

They’ve escaped from their jars.

Sneakily slithering with sinister intent in the inky darkness of ancient tombs, relentlessly biting your shins should you be foolish enough to explore such places. I’m not sure who has introduced these snakes to these environments, or how the snakes have remained alive, as there’s no sustenance of any kind in these crumbling halls, but they’ve got a sense of humour. They sometimes leave bundles of rope around to make you eternally paranoid about being bitten. I’ve finally begun my adventures in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and it’s just as impressive as I’d hoped that it would be.

It’s an incredibly content-dense experience.

After thirty hours of rambling across the Greek countryside I’m still finding new mechanics, which makes the experience more linear than Assassin’s Creed: Origins, as following the main campaign unlocks the potential of the Spear of Leonidas, and allows you to realise the misthios’ true strength.

Without unlocking that potential you’ll rapidly grind to a complete halt, which makes me wonder why it’s locked behind main campaign quests. I’m naturally inclined to explore each new region as I find it, and I’ve found many, but exploring them and completing side quests is less rewarding than it could be, when I can’t upgrade certain abilities until I’ve begun to upgrade the Spear of Leonidas. Acquiring the first upgrade introduces an entire progression system which fundamentally changes your chosen misthios. Upgrading further relies on you assassinating key targets found throughout the world, who remain hidden until they are discovered by various means. You’ll also encounter mercenaries who reward progression once they’ve been defeated, and who utilise the bounty system to follow your wrongdoings.

Kassandra’s confidence never fails to impress.

You’ve also got the Adrestia and her crew to tend to. Not only will you need to gather raw materials to upgrade this fine vessel, but you’ll need to scout new crew members and recruit them to your cause. Mostly by kicking them. It endears people to you for some reason. You’ll also be using those raw materials to upgrade your equipment or customise it by engraving it. Not that I’m criticising the wealth of content present in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, I’m just surprised by how much there is to do, and I’m reasonably sure that there’s more out there, as I’ve yet to access the DLC.

I’ll admit that I grossly underestimated it.

I was under the impression that it would be more grandiose than Assassin’s Creed: Origins, but it has exceeded every prior expectation. In the best possible way. Not only is it brimming with a ludicrous amount of content, but exploring the beautiful landscapes of ancient Greece is immensely satisfying.

I’m also glad that the misthios is a mercenary in every sense of the word. They have no inherent allegiance to Athens or Sparta, despite what their familial ties might suggest, and can freely fight for either when engaging in conquest battles, which gives unprecedented freedom when exploring the world. You really can go anywhere and do anything. Certain actions and activities are frowned upon, though. Which is where the aforementioned bounty system tries to make you accountable for your actions. Not that it’s wholly irreversible, as you can either pay a fine or murder the bounty sponsor. Both of which solve the problem. Or you can fight three mercenaries at once because the Overpower Attacks are (as the name would suggest) overpowered. That’s my preferred approach now that I have a shred of proficiency in combat.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie