“I didn’t fall,” Kassandra yells, spitting the words out, “you fucking threw me!”
There are a lot of things that are brilliant about Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, the latest in the long-running series. I have never played an Assassin’s Creed game before – I don’t like playing games as a male protagonist. So when it was announced earlier this year that Odyssey would have a female protagonist, I was on that pre-order like Donkey Kong.
I love stealth games, I love open world games, and Odyssey doesn’t let down on that front. But the thing that I’ve loved, more than anything else, is Kassandra. Kassandra is the female protagonist and she is amazing. Her arms will genuinely bring you to tears. She is strong and caring and talented and cunning and, most importantly…
She is angry.
And we don’t get to see women being angry often enough.
Like all good Greek heroines, some shit has gone down in Kassandra’s past which is as epic as the story you end up living with her. To put it as spoiler-free as possible: her father tries to kill her, but she survives.
When you first see her there’s no mention of this, she’s a mercenary looking for work. It’s over time that her anger builds up. And the thing that I love so much about Kassandra’s anger is that it’s real anger. Because sometimes in media when you do see female anger, it’s a very specific kind – shrieking and screaming. Which is not to say that isn’t a valid way of expressing anger, it is – it’s just not the only way.
When you see Kassandra get angry – first of all when she confronts her father – she acts in the way that makes perfect sense to her character. She hisses her yells, chokes people, sometimes even just kills them. She doesn’t apologise for that – honestly, she doesn’t apologise for much, and it’s brilliant. Why is she angry? Because she just is.
But it’s not just Kassandra who’s angry in Odyssey.
There are a lot of side quests. And in those side quests? Are a lot of angry women. Women out to get revenge, to right wrongs, some who are simply vindictive or malicious. There are women of every kind: there are pirates who are women; there are farmers; there are leaders. Even the random soldiers you kill in forts can be women!
(And, by the way, can we get a fistpunch for the fact that so many of them can be love interests?)
There is a lot of female anger on display in Odyssey, and the game is all the better for it. It feels real, and deep, and it means that even when you’re running yet another ‘would you kill this group of bandits for me’ quest, you actually give a damn. Because the person giving you a quest didn’t just spin a bland story – they drew you into their predicament with genuine emotion.
And this is just one of the things that’s fantastic about characterisation.
It’s impressive that in a game where you often only get one or two dialogue options, there’s so much depth to your choices. I very rarely take the aggressive option in games, but I’ve been going full no-apologies, kill people if they wrong you with Kassandra.
I think it’s because it’s so well done that I’m comfortable doing this. It doesn’t feel malicious or vindictive with her – it makes perfect sense. And, honestly, I’m angry at a lot of things in the world. I try not to be, I try to ignore them, but if I actually sit down and think about many things I get angry.
So maybe the best thing about seeing Kassandra’s anger – and the anger of all the other women in Odyssey’s Greek world – is that I might learn to let myself be angry too.
If you enjoyed this article, and would like to see more reviews in this vein – let me know! I’d love to hear from you.