As the resident Assassins Creed fanboy here at PCU, I’ve played every single one of the eleven console games in this franchise, and not actually hated any of them. The overarching story of two mysterious warring factions that covertly operate within various societies throughout millennia of human history has always grabbed my attention and held on tight.
Sure, the long-running story, the fun gameplay, and the beautiful settings are all amazing. Additionally, each of the chapters in this saga brings a tale of utter humanity into play — that’s the thing that really keeps me interested. There have been so many multi-faceted protagonists throughout the franchise’s lifespan: Ezio Auditore da Firenze, Edward Kenway, & Bayek of Siwa, just to name a few. However, one of the things that has become a point of contention (especially in this day and age of gaming), is that up until very recently, this story has been very male-centric. Sure, we’ve seen Layla Hassan as our recent modern-day character, but only two of the ancestral lead characters have been women.
With Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, however, we got another opportunity to play through an entire game as Kassandra; a badass female mercenary who must fight to learn the secrets of her past. She’s our focus today for Women’s History Month.
In my opinion, Kassandra is one of the best protagonists we’ve gotten in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. While she’s technically only one half of the playable choices you’re offered, she is (in my eyes) the singular choice. To support this assertion, we recently asked you all on Facebook and Twitter who you first chose as your playable character, and it looks like a lot of you agreed with me.
- On Facebook, 73% of you said you chose to play as Kassandra, and 27% of you chose Alexios.
- Twitter had a tighter margin, with the results coming back 60% for Kassandra, and 40% for Alexios.
However, when Scott Phillips (Odyssey’s director) saw players’ character choice data back in December, two thirds overwhelmingly favored Alexios. WHAT?? I’m just glad that you, my dear readers, are behind me on this. So, let me tell you why I, personally, love Kassandra so much.
There are a couple of reasons why I believe Kassandra to be a fantastic archetype – not only for this chapter of Assassin’s Creed – but also for this day and age in our own real lives.
To illustrate why, let’s begin with the game’s story and setting.
**STORY SPOILERS FOLLOW THE IMAGE**
Still with me? Good. Let’s continue.
Those of us who know a bit about the sociopolitical setup of the time and region will remember that Spartan children had very different upbringings based upon their genders. The men were rigorously trained from a young age — in what was known as the Agoge — to be soldiers and fight for the glory of Sparta. Conversely, Spartan women were given a state-sponsored education in subjects like gymnastics, music, poetry, and the like — but only for the purpose of bearing strong male children who would carry on the warrior line. It was actually frowned upon, in the Greek culture of the time, for women to take on occupations.
Kassandra has no such qualms about conforming to gender expectations. This is a woman who is raised not knowing her real family, and not bearing any sort of allegiance to Sparta (or Athens, for that matter). She grows up under the eye of Markos of Kephalonia (the man who found her on the beach and raised her), becomes a mercenary, earns her own drachmae, and lives by her own rules. She does all of this while basically ignoring what Greek society says is her gender’s purpose. Going by this franchise’s version of history, this also makes Kassandra the first female empowerment figure in the story — chronologically speaking, that is.
Actions are just a piece of what makes this female ambassador wholly awesome. Her entire persona, from her voice (brought to life by the amazing Melissanthi Mahut) to her physicality, conveys both an obvious strength and a soft femininity. In addition, every emotion that Kassandra experiences is nearly flawless. Overall, the way that Kassandra has been brought to digital life in this game really shows off both her great physical strength and her statuesque beauty.
As I played this chapter of Assassin’s Creed (I’ve finished the game and will be starting a New Game+ soon), I saw how much Kassandra grew through her experiences. Throughout Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Kassandra made a few allies (and a few enemies), inspired others, and (based on the choices you made in your play-through) seemed to really care about her fellow human beings. She not only learned what it meant to fight for something larger than herself (and drachmae), but also truly figured out where her loyalties and friendships lay. It also became clear that she was always meant to be the true hero of this story. Even without us having that little tidbit of information, it’s easy to see how Kassandra’s struggle to uncover the truth about her family (and by extension, her real lineage) was made far more poignant not only in spite of her gender, but because of it as well.
Uncover Kassandra’s truths and let her story become yours by taking a leap of faith into Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. If you’re currently playing or have already played it, what parts of yourself do you see in Kassandra? Leave us a comment down below!
Featured Image and pre-spoiler image by Twitter user ilikedetectives