I Finally Played Assassin’s Creed – Here Are My Thoughts

The Assassin’s Creed series is one of the most popular games in the world, with 11 installments under its belt and over 140 million copies sold. While I have heard many good things about the game, I never had the chance to play it until recently. Steam was having a sale on all AC titles, some of which were going at half price – and after looking up reviews, I settled on AC: Origins.

Only regret? I should have started playing sooner.

AC Origins is set in the last days of the Ptolemaic dynasty in ancient Egypt, and follows Bayek of Siwa, a Medjay whose duty is to protect the people – sort of like a modern day sheriff of sorts. A dangerous job begets dangerous enemies, and Bayek and his son Khemu are captured by mysterious masked figures from The Order of the Ancients. They demand Bayek open the Siwa Vault, but Bayek was actually oblivious to the vault’s existence, a fact the Order of the Ancients refused to believe. In the ensuing scuffle, Khemu is accidentally murdered by his own father. 

The story picks up one year later, with Bayek returning to Siwa after successfully killing The Heron, one of the Order. Bayek and his wife Aya are hell-bent on revenge, and they have a list of targets from which they intend to eliminate. However, the more Bayek investigates, the more he realizes that toppling the order isn’t simply about assassinating a few men, as the organisation is not only firmly entrenched in society and politics, but also wields enormous influence. They also discover that the Order is actually after powerful relics – which is why they wanted access to Siwa Vault – and use these powers to subjugate the population and bring peace and order to the world. 

To counter this, Bayek and Aya found The Hidden Ones, the precursor to the modern Assassins. Like the modern version, the Hidden Ones are meant to represent peace through freedom, whereas the Order of Ancients – a forerunner to the modern Templars in other AC games, represent peace through order. These two secret societies will battle each other through the ages: one determined to seek out relics for power, the other to prevent the subjugation of mankind. 

The Story and Characters 

If you’re a fan of historical fiction (like Dan Brown), you’ll love how the story weaves Bayek and the Hidden Ones into real-life events in history. There’s even a mission where you help sneak Cleopatra into Ptolemy’s palace, so that she can meet Julius Caesar. The main story isn’t all that long, but there are plenty of side missions to keep you occupied. Some have interesting plots and add to the overall story; others are mundane and involve things like fetching items. As much as I like the game, I found the side missions tedious and repetitive after awhile, but kept going because I’m *hangs head in shame* a completionist and it bugs me when there’s an incomplete mark on the map lol. 

Bayek as a character is quite likeable, albeit a little naive (he often takes what people say at face value, then (insert Pikachu face meme here) is shocked when they betray him. Bayek’s guilt at Khemu’s murder ,his helplessness at being unable to protect his son and family, is also well written and portrayed through small side missions, like the one where you can complete puzzles and be rewarded with some dialogue about how Bayek and Khemu used to go star gazing.

I also think that the theme of revenge is conveyed really well. Bayek feels that by killing the people responsible for his son’s death, as well as those who have wronged Egypt and oppressed its people, he will be able to feel at peace. We see that this is not the case. 

Whenever Bayek makes a kill, the player is transported to a dark space where Bayek has a conversation with his victim and passes judgement for their sins, before they are sent to the afterlife. But as the player observes, Bayek is not always happy, even after his vengeance is complete, because deep down he knows that like Hydra in Greek mythology, cut off one head and another appears. There will always be oppressors, just as how there will always be the oppressed. It isn’t until he realises this and finds a greater calling – to protect the people through the Hidden Ones and leave a legacy that lasts beyond his own life – that he truly finds purpose. 

Graphics and Setting 

Image via Ubisoft

I’ve always been fascinated by ancient Egyptian history (one of my dreams as a kid was to go see the Pyramids of Giza), and AC Origins delivers with breathtaking visuals. It’s one of the prettiest games that I’ve played, aside from Detroit Become Human. 

The immersion is wonderful; at times I felt like I was actually exploring ancient Egypt in Bayek’s shoes, checking out tiny details on the buildings and statues,soaking in the culture and colourful tales of their gods and myths. The costumes are amazingly detailed and reflect the different stations of its characters, from the everyday people and the priestesses, to soldiers, merchants and nobility. You also get a nice mix of Egyptian, Greek and Roman culture, as during the Ptolemaic period these three were intertwined (Rome invaded Egypt in 30BC, ending Cleopatra’s rule and the ancient Egyptian dynasty). As Bayek, you visit important cities such as Alexandria, Krokodiliopolis, Thebes and Memphis, each with their own unique architecture.

Gameplay 

I have to admit – I was rather miffed at the lack of a ‘jump’ command when I first started playing, because it seemed like such a basic move that players won’t be able to do at will. Instead, you vault over obstacles when Bayek’s avatar is close – but you kind of get used to it as the game progresses. As the AC series is all about stealth, you’re not supposed to be running through hordes of enemies hacking and slashing, relying instead on hiding yourself in bushes, around pillars and timing your attacks so that enemies won’t raise the alarm. Overall, the gameplay feels smooth, even though sometimes I would accidentally release myself from a ledge and watch as Bayek falls to his doom wtf haha. That being said, the game allows you to move and climb virtually anywhere. The use of your hawk Senu to hone in on hidden treasure and enemies is a nice touch, and is apparently a hallmark of the AC games (can’t compare because I’ve never played the other ones). 

I feel that it is a good thing that I started with AC: Origins. Not only does it start in the ‘correct’ chronological order ie how the Assassins came to be, thus giving the player plenty of backstory, it’s also touted as one of the best AC games of all time. Because I had so much fun, I purchased AC: Odyssey, which is the latest one in the franchise and will be checking it out as soon as I have more time – and I’m planning to get some of the older games too.The thing about that, though, is that the new games tend to be improvements over old ones, so you just can’t get into them once you’ve played the new (case in point: I played Witcher 3 first, and Witcher 2 just sucked in comparison. Same case with Borderlands 2). 

Have you played any of the Assassin’s Creed games? Which one is your favourite? 

30 Day Writing Challenge Day 5: Travel Bucket List

Hey guys!

Today’s topic for the 30 Day Writing Challenge is “Places You’d Like To Visit”.

If I could, I’d happily join the throng of ‘digital nomads’ out there travelling around the globe, doing remote work like digital marketing, writing (my strong suit? lol), or just whatever digital nomads do to eke out a living.

Unfortunately, I don’t live a carefree existence where I can just drop everything and hop off to travel the world. Coming from a traditional Asian family, and being a girl to boot, my parents are pretty strict about solo travel. They didn’t even allow me to stay on my own outside during my college days – which meant that I had to commute for four hours (in total) every day to get to school … wtf how did I even manage I don’t even :’D

The first time I decided to travel solo (at the age of 22) to visit my best friend in Singapore, the Moo and I got into a row because she didn’t understand why I’d want to travel anywhere alone. To be fair, they weren’t averse to the idea of travelling – it was just that they felt like someone should accompany me, for safety reasons. I understand, because the world isn’t exactly a safe place, especially for women. But since I got into journalism + travel/lifestyle writing, I’ve been blessed to have been to a fair bit of places, and the fam has accepted (somewhat grudgingly, lol) that I have a head on my shoulders.

That being said, I appreciate travelling with the fam a whole lot more these days, because they’re nearing retirement age, and I want to spend as much time as possible creating good memories with them. But back to the topic at hand, there are some places that they won’t be able to go with me, because of logistics and their health, and I’ve listed five that I’d like to visit someday:

Greece 

via Pexels

Growing up, my parents fed me a steady diet of books and encyclopedias for kids, and I filled my head with tales of Greek mythology and magnificent, ancient temples dedicated to the Gods. My name, Eris, is actually adapted from the Greek goddess of Strife and Discord.

Which is why I hope to travel to Athens – the heart of it all – someday, and walk through the ruins of Acropolis. There’s something extremely powerful about going to a historical place – all the stories that have unfolded, the lives that have lived within, and how you’re only separated by time and not space. And of course, I’d love to visit the island of Crete – where the legend of the Minotaur was born.

UK 

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Image via Flickr, Phil Richards 

I spent a summer semester in Sheffield as part of my university degree, and it was one of the best times of my life. The uni mates and I visited many places over the weekends, but it always felt too short. I’d love to go back again and explore them – extensively, this time.

When the weather isn’t cold and grey, the English countryside is absolutely breathtaking. I remember my first bus ride from the Manchester Airport to my uni in Sheffield: we drove through country roads, everything was bursting with colour, the rolling hills were a verdant green dotted with fluffy sheep, and we passed by a beautiful lake that was such a brilliant hue of sapphire blue it looked unreal.

Egypt 

Image via Pexels

My primary reason for wanting to go to Egypt is to see the Great Pyramids of Giza. I am aware that tourism there is over commercialised and not the mysterious, exotic experience most people expect, but I still wouldn’t pass up the chance to see the world’s last remaining Wonder of the Ancient World.

Philippines 

Closer to home, and possibly the most doable at this point in time, is the Philippines. Now I’ve been to the Phils several times since 2016 because the Boy is there, but it’s always to Manila. I’d like to explore more of the country’s natural beauty, especially in places like Cebu, Batanes and the Mindanao region. I mean, have you even seen how breathtaking the Hinatuan Enchanted River is!?

Hinatuan enchanted river.jpg
By 2il orgFlickr: Enchanted River, CC BY 2.0, Link

These are just several places I can think off the top of my head right now, and is by no means comprehensive.

If possible, I hope that one day it would be peaceful enough for people to travel anywhere they’d want to in the world. 🙂