What a difference a year off makes. Even with the unseemingly bland setting of Egypt, this game takes everything you thought you knew about the Assassin’s Creed formula and turns it on its head. Almost nothing about this game is what is conventional about the Assassin’s Creed games. It has a structure of the bare pieces of AC games, but underneath is a Tomb Raiding experience filled with huge vast beautiful deserts and more side quests than most open world games.
Origins puts you in the shoes of basically Egypt’s cops. You have been stripped of your badge and have been in exile for a year or two. Then you come home to find life as you know it doesn’t exist anymore. As you deal with trying to find your wife and find the killers responsible for your son’s death/chaos around Egypt, you basically get a free pass to murder as many people as you want, in the name of the true queen of Egypt, Cleopatra.
The open word is so big, even compared to other games in the series, such as Black Flag, that it is daunting. The desert has enough ruins and cities, that you can lose hours just exploring. The exploring is not just a key component of the game, but also insanely fun too. While on an expedition to rescue some kids from a worker camp, I stumbled across a small pond in the middle of some desert mountains. When I jumped in and dove under water I found a huge skeleton of some forgotten monster. It’s not marked on the map, it’s not something immediately easy to find, I didn’t unlock any achievement or something. Just something for me to stumble upon. A small little Easter Egg that I found by just going off the beaten path. And from what I’ve seen online through the photo mode, there are TONS of stuff like this.
The stories and side quests are much better than you would expect as well. A kid who you meet who immediately gets kidnapped and drowned in an ocean just to prove a point. Games really don’t do that very often, and even if there wasn’t much interaction between you and the kid, it still holds some weight.
Making up your own stories of vengeance is pretty fun too. I had one instance where a town was burning the dead (which is not allowed) and found out a “curse/plague” was afflicting the people. It turns out it was a merchant behind it all. I caught a vendor poisoning food to poor people, so I killed him and then exacted Revenge by dumping his body into the poisoned food and then burning it. As a taste of irony. Coupled with the unbelievably easy and fun Photo mode where I can take beautiful screenshots whenever I want to. This needs to be mandatory for games like this. It’s so fun!
Sadly, this game doesn’t get off scot free. It does suffer from small issues. One of them is the fact that there are so many fake endings. Several big boss fights coupled with very large set piece moments that belong more at home in Uncharted, set you up to believe you just finished the game. But it fakes you out and then sends you on another mission where you believe “THIS has to be the end” and of course it is not.