When I finished Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey’s main quests, I was still very much enjoying the game and thus it made sense to move right into the DLCs. The Fate of Atlantis DLC is a huge expansion that takes place over three mythological realms and expands beyond the main story in ways that focus more on the mythology of the ancient world. This opens up the game for new opportunities and designs. The rest of this post will contain spoilers for the DLC so this is your warning!
Okay! So. The Judgment of Atlantis DLC is broken into three parts, and all three are quite large with plenty to do. The overall story is that Kassandra (or Alexios, but I played as Kassandra) must learn to harness the power of the Staff of Hermes Trismegistus and achieve your destiny as the Staff’s Keeper. In order to do that, Kassandra must venture through Elysium, Tartaros, and finally the lost city of Atlantis.
The first arc is the Fields of Elysium. Kassandra must ride through paradise: a perfect world overseen by Persephone, who rules with ironclad order. In Elysium not a blade of grass is out of place, and all is perfectly well.
But… all is not well. Hermes pines for Persephone, who detests her husband, Hades (I think the internet has spoiled me with the trope of Persephone and Hades actually loving each other and caring deeply for each other). Persephone also longs for Adonis, a human who is trapped in Elysium and is planning a rebellion against Persephone. While the scenery was beautiful, I wasn’t really taken by the story. I wasn’t entirely sure whose side I should be on, if anyone’s; I found the missions kind of tedious, and the world of Elysium, though beautiful, dull to play in. In all fairness, the week I was playing it was really hot and I had fans going all the time, plus the Smol Human redoubled his efforts to cling to me at all times, so I wasn’t paying as close attention as I could or should have. It was interesting enough, but not particularly gripping. I think the best part was riding my sparkly rainbow-trailing unicorn through the fields and taking screenshots! I did appreciate that, unlike the main game, Elysium as a realm had to be created, rather than recreated. I love the attention to detail in the AC games, but really appreciated what they did to create a version of a mythological realm.
The Torment of Hades was the middle chapter of this DLC, and really, I felt, the strongest and most interesting. Now, when I was teaching and had mythology classes, they enjoyed the afterlife unit quite a bit, and especially the bits about Tartarus and Dante’s Inferno. And really, in The Divine Comedy, Inferno is the most interesting bit, so it made sense that the Torment of Hades was such an interesting game experience.
For starters, story-wise it played a lot more emotional than Fields of Elysium. Fields of Elysium had a great sequence with Kassandra and her grandfather and I appreciated that, but it didn’t pack the emotional punch that Torment of Hades did. Torment of Hades had several quests and characters that had me near tears (I admit I get emotional pretty easily anyway). But there were sequences with Phoibe and Brasidas, and one section called the Cradle of the Underworld that just gutted me as a mother. Kassandra experienced regret, and myself through her based on the choices I’d had her make throughout the game.
Level design also shone here. The Pits of Tartaros were suitably creepy and haunting, and Hades’s reign of chaos was made evident through the constant gloomy gloaming that made up the realm of the dead. Sections varied from the fiery pits of punishment you’d expect, to night-dark temples of dead kings. Here also we had the gods, tricky as always. Charon the ferryman was harried and darkly humorous. Hades was a contrast to his surroundings: rather than being chaotic and ugly, he was smooth with finely crafted features and a silky, almost musical voice. The fight against Hades was challenging until I picked up on his attack patterns. Medusa still remains the most difficult fight in the game so far in my experience.
Persephone was methodically precise; Hades was tricky and smug. The third segment of the DLC, the Judgment of Atlantis, introduces Poseidon as the ruler of Atlantis. This segment brings in more of the fantastic lore of the AC series, painting the Greek Pantheon as the Isu: technologically advanced beings who left behind remnants of their society, which Assassins and Templars now fight over in order to control or liberate humanity. In this case the monsters of mythology are Isu experiments gone wrong, which makes for a nice way to blend the game’s myth with Greco-Roman myth. In terms of design, Elysium and Tartaros are much what we’d expect from the Greek mythological influence, but the designers for the game had a lot of fun with the lost city of Atlantis.
In this installment, Kassandra is tasked by Poseidon to preside over Atlantis as a dikastes, or judge. At first I found the missions kind of dull and wasn’t really sure what was at stake. Poseidon’s sons rule different areas of the city and fight with one another and with their lovers and the humans they rule. Atlantis is unique in this case because it is where humans and Isu coexist. It’s a technological marvel, full of scientific research and advances, but it’s far from perfect.
One of the key elements of this installment’s story is the idea of hubris, or reaching for more than one should; it’s confidence transcended to arrogance, and takes many forms. Once I got further in the story and started doing more than just making judgments for fighting families, the insidiousness below Atlantis’s gleaming surface came out. In trying to make Atlantis perfect, Poseidon has ignored what goes on, and how his decrees are disregarded. Humans are disappearing and being used as lab rats by Isu researchers. And when all is said and done, it’s up to Kassandra, as dikastes, to determine if the gods have gone too far.
Of all three areas, Atlantis had the most liberty for design, and the level is a mix of technological advancement with clean, angular architecture in bright white, gold, and soft aquas that evoke the feeling of the sea realm without being expressly nautical. It’s layout is orderly, its aesthetic clean and linear and bright. When the true horrors of what’s going on come to light, it’s a nice contrast to the overall level design.
Overall I enjoyed the DLC and it brought a nice element to the more historical and reality-based main game. As a former mythology teacher, I really enjoyed playing through and seeing these versions of the Greco-Roman afterlife, the gods, and the myths of Atlantis. Fields of Elysium was definitely the weakest installment, and not a great opener in my opinion, but still creative, and I liked the lead-in to the next installments. Each segment had new things to learn to keep the gameplay fresh and interesting. The enemies provided good, suitable fights and challenges, to the point that going back to the world of the main game feels a little too easy now… well, until I tried taking on a level 75 mercenary. That put me in my place!
I still have Lost Tales of Greece I can play, as well as the other paid DLC, so I’m not finished exploring Kassandra’s world. Until I get to that though, check out my gallery of in-game screenshots here! Thanks, and chaire!