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Origins: the Prince of Egypt

Bayek is slowly moving through the sands of the seemingly endless desert. The warmth of the sun heats both the desert and his mind. Sometimes “fata morganas” appear right in front of his eyes, but the moment he touches it, his hands go right through it. What the sun does to Bayek, that is what Origins did to me…

Welcome to Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy and the rise to power of Cleopatra. The Mediterranean world is ruled by the Roman Empire, one of the greatest and most civilized empires to have existed in human history. The setting is set and the fires are lit. We get to play with the Medjay, a soldier from the elite force of the Egyptian army, Bayek.

The story of Assassin’s Creed Origins is sad, full of terror and painful, but also shows humans how they really are: imperfect yet hopeful. Bayek renounced Pharaoh Ptolemy, making him an enemy of the state. Egypt is on the brink of civil war, as Cleopatra’s forces are moving up against Ptolemy. While not his fight, Bayek still encounters both sides of the war and not all of them are peaceful.

During the first hours of the game, we learn the base mechanics of the game. It is raw, it is hard and it is unforgiving. Make a mistake and your chances of survival drop rapidly, especially when playing on “Hard”. Right here the Role Playing Game aspect is introduced, as the player gets full control on how she/he wants to play the game. Do you want to fight with a sword and a dagger, like the Persians have mastered, or is a spear more your thing? In Origins you can choose the weapons you want to use and you are able to switch in a second between them. The weapons all behave slightly different, but they don’t need an entirely different approach. The basics of combat are easy to learn, yet hard to master.

While the previous games always used the block and parrying system, Origins is completely different. I have had up to four enemies attacking me at the same time, which you will be unable to block and resulted in me being instantly killed. This with an amazing finishing move by one of the roman soldiers! On the second try, instead of blocking, I dodged and rolled behind one of the soldiers. Then I pierced his back with my sword. By using all of the combat features of blocking, dodging and parrying, Bayek becomes a true master in combat. A big bonus are the finishing moves after a successful combo, resulting in a gruesome real time kill.

At the moment I have visited a couple of cities and dozens of towns, all in real time. This game is huge, really huge and by using the automatic travel system, you can enjoy the view while riding from one location to the other. Riding for five to ten minutes is more a rule than an exception, but at no moment is this a punishment. The game is beautifully crafted and at any moment you just want to be there in reality, it really makes you wonder (and sad) that these civilizations perished in the sands of time. There is also a fast travel system, but I try to keep this feature to a minimal. Reason for this is that one of the main aspects of the game is the scenery and the vibe.

Riding through the desert on your mount while the sun is burning your skin and your thirst for water is higher than ever, you can really reflect on your past and future actions. Riding, walking or flying (with our beloved eagle Senu) through Egypt has never been this real and never been this beautiful. It makes one long for more and for a return to the architecture from that era. And I dare to say it: welcome to the era of empires, welcome to Egypt and welcome to the best Assassin’s Creed in history of the franchise. It really marks the start of a new era in the franchise, a return to the start of everything and this is what we call… Origins.