Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I guess I am a romantic, after all

I was not expecting Assassin's Creed Origins to have another four hours left when I starting playing last night. It was time to finish the game and save it from other distractions (#BlankaChan) so I soldiered on. I have a few problems with the game's resolution and it is old enough that I am going to spoil the ending freely. Chance just started the game (and will never finish it) and Alex intends to purchase it, so to my podcasting partners, a general spoiler warning.

If Pikachu was a car

One of my original posts on Origins lauded Aya as a character. She's cool, she's collected, everyone loves her but only Bayek can get close and even he is left behind eventually. Part of her mystique is that you never actually play her. Yes, there is a ship battle sequence at the midpoint of the game where she it at the helm, but you never control her in combat. She is doing the same kind of missions as Bayek, successfully, but her actions are more in line with an actual assassin while Bayek can bull his way through any encounter.

Seriously, my Bayek had a flaming sword but the time I was done with him. Not much silent and stealthy about enemies screaming as they burn to death.

This changes in the last act. You take control of Aya and are immediately stripped of all of Bayek's cool shit. No eagle eye view that can track enemies. No shield that can block incoming projectiles. No more being deliciously over leveled and therefore careless and malevolent.

I understand precisely what the game is going for. Aya said it herself before heading off to Rome to kill Caesar (I warned you that there would be spoilers): she had been too careless with their killing and they needed to work from the shadows. This was part her bringing the hammer down on Bayek and part reminding the player that this is an Assassin's Creed game and you are going to play at least one level the way it is intend, damnit. Aya's approach to kill Caesar is a throwback to the first few games: stealth required, unforgiving of failure, death waiting if a mistake is made.

I get its point, I just didn't like it. I had spent damn near sixty hours buffing Bayek so I could roll the final boss is a very un-Assassin's Creed like manner and was denied. I will admit that it made sense, and that for some people it may even be refreshing, but my Bayek and I were let down.

Speaking of things going poory for Bayek...

He doesn't die, which is good, but his motivation in the final hours swings wildly between his own 'HE KILLED MY SON HE MUST DIE' and Aya's 'we must work from the shadows, whisper, whisper.' It doesn't work. If this were a movie I would blame it in reshoots or poor editing. In one scene, after all appears to be lost (Cleopatra has betrayed them, the final targets have escaped to Rome, Flavius has the apple of eden and is doing all sorts of evil shit with it) Bayek gives a rousing speech that yes, he had been wrongly motivated by revenge and was too quick to trust Cleopatra, but even the failure had a silver lining as it brought together a new group to fight the Order.

He uses the word 'creed' like a dozen times. It's painfully obvious where he is going with the speech.

Less than an hour later he is back in the 'RAWR KILL' mindset. Then he is angry with Aya for leaving for Rome. And then he is at peace with the two them splitting up as being together reminds them both of what they have lost. For all but the last act Bayek was ruthless but still quick to smile and help those who needed help. His personality was part of why exploring was so much fun. He was there as a guardian of Egypt, to help people, and when he discards that for the new creed it feels like too big of a change.

I would almost have preferred that he die as he was, holding on to the dream the he and Aya could return to Siwa and just be husband and wife again. To hear him say 'I am not longer a mejay. I am no longer a father or a husband. I am of the shadows.' was heartbreaking. I wanted the character to have a happy ending and he did not get it.

...they saved that for the DLC. Fuckers.

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