Choices Matter For Your Love Life Vs Your Morality In Assassin's Creed: Odyssey

Friday 6 November 2020

In my review of Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, I mentioned how certain choices that you make affect the development of your protagonist's character in more than one ways. In this article, I will elaborate a bit more on this matter, focusing on how their decisions affect the outcome of their love life in connection to their morality, as I think it is a very interesting subject. When characters are shown to have emotions and, subsequently, a romantic side, they are more realistic and thus become more human. When faced with related dilemmas, they can follow the path of either Vice or Virtue; and since the main hero of this game comes from Ancient Greece, any association with said myth of Heracles couldn't be more fitting. In this article, I will not analyze all the romances or their outcomes (there are that many choices you can make in each case); I will focus on certain stories which are the most interesting and stand out among the rest, when it comes to love versus morality. For the purpose of the article, I will use only my own choices as examples, and I will have Alexios as my hero, as I mostly play the game with him.

On the island of Hydrea, Alexios meets a young woman, Roxana, who comes from a family of warriors and is in the process of tough training as preparation for a savage battle called "The Battle of One Hundred Hands" that will take place soon on the neighboring island of Melos. Accepting to spar with her and deciding to participate in the upcoming battle yourself, marks the beginning of the questline which starts with the quest Sparring With Roxana. Almost from the start, the game tries to trick you towards flirting Roxana, although your initial choices will not make much difference really. Your crucial choice is right before the battle quest begins, when you will have to decide between fully romancing her or keeping your distance. At that point, you already know that you and Roxana will unavoidably be rivals in the battle, the purpose of which is to bring forth only one winner, with all the other participants being gradually eliminated. This practically means that, in the end, you and Roxana will be called to fight against each other in a duel where only one will survive.

The only way to save Roxana at that point and open up the possibility to avoid the fatal duel is to romance her before the battle. If you do that, when the time comes for her and Alexios to fight, Alexios will be able to persuade her to cancel the duel and then he can ask her to join his crew (she is a legendary lieutenant, by the way), a proposition that she will gladly accept. In similar cases involving other people, you can choose between several options in various combinations: flirt the other person, part with them peacefully, recruit them, attack them; but in Roxana's case, you only have two: recruit her or kill her. There is no way to simply part with her in friendly terms and let her go; you either have to take her with you or murder her. So if you did romance her earlier, which will make way for her accepting to cancel the duel, the only way to spare her during the duel sequence is to recruit her as a crew member. Following this path, Roxana becomes one of your available lieutenants, and you forget about her as you go on with your journey, until you get involved in another quest, much later.

Said quest waits for you on the island of Lemnos: Neleus, a promising athlete who also happens to be the nephew of your dear friend Barnabas, seems to be in serious trouble and you are called to offer a helping hand, foremost for your buddy's sake. Starting with the quest Tough Love, the story involves several people and is one of the most complex and interesting questlines of the game. Upon arriving at the house where Neleus is, Alexios meets Mikkos, who is the boy's caretaker and your very spicy romance option for that questline. Mikkos is a few years older than Alexios, and doesn't hesitate to make bold advances even during your first meeting with him. As the story unfolds, you have the chance to fully romance Mikkos at a party, and in the finale, assuming you did everything to get a happy ending for Barnabas's nephew, you will be able to have one more romantic encounter with Mikkos in the sunset, before saying a goodbye that, since you never cease to be a traveler, may not be definitive.

During your first runs of the game, you can complete the Hydrea & Melos questlines fairly early, as their level is relatively low; but you are recommended to travel to Lemnos only when you are strong enough to survive the demanding quests there. This means that, upon arriving on Lemnos, you may have already done Roxana's quests, and if you romanced her and spared her, she will be with your crew. If this is the case, when the questline on Lemnos reaches its conclusion, Roxana will arrive with Barnabas to greet you. After everything is settled, she will literally send Mikkos away to stay with Alexios herself, claiming her antagonist's place in the sunset scene. This unexpected twist has one extremely disappointing downside: the game takes for granted that you prefer Roxana over Mikkos, as you are not given the chance to choose between the two of them at that point. Mikkos gets too intimidated by Roxana's authoritative stare and warrior aura and he withdraws with a sad look on his face that speaks much more than any words could. I am pretty sure that Alexios would have picked Mikkos if he could choose, given that the main questline's title is Have You Seen My Mikkos?. Not to mention how much fun, deliciously wild and adorably campy the romance with him is. You can still reject Roxana during the ending scene and make her leave you alone, but even so you have already lost your last chance of romancing Mikkos in the sunset, as he will be nearby afterwards, but apart from complimenting Alexios on his looks, he will not say anything else to him.

The way the two stories are entwined challenges your moral status in a rather frustrating way, as in the end of the Lemnos story you are robbed of your free will if you spared Roxana on Melos. Even if you want your character to follow a specific path in their sex life, but decide to romance Roxana strictly out of human compassion so as to not sacrifice her (and for practical reasons, so as to hire her on your ship), she will totally ruin your affair with Mikkos later and, what's worse, you are not even given the chance to decide yourself which lover you will pick. Your story with Mikkos will end happily only if you have killed Roxana on Melos, or if you start her story after Mikkos's questline is safely complete. But even if you do the latter, you will still have to kill her if you don't want to romance her. Plainly put, the game practically forces you to romance Roxana if you don't want to be a murderer.

On a different pace and atmosphere, the enchanting adventure Trouble In Paradise which takes place on the Silver Islands, is a beautiful and immersive story that could even stand alone as a DLC episode. Alexios arrives on Mykonos to hunt down and kill one of the Cultists, the ruthless Podarkes, who rules the islands with an iron fist, after receiving a message from Kyra, the leader of a group of rebels who fervently want to get rid of the evil man. Kyra has one more reason to hate Podarkes, as he had guards kill her mother when she was little. Alexios meets Kyra and he also meets Thaletas, a Spartan polemarch who had also received a similar message from Kyra and arrived on Mykonos to help her free and secure the Silver Islands. You can flirt with both of them, but you can fully romance only one, and your decision will naturally have consequences. Like in the previous case, I will analyze my own choices only, with their own outcomes and side-effects.

Kyra is a smart, funny and pretty girl, and among all the possible female romance options for our character, she seems to be the second most fitting choice after Odessa. Similarly, Thaletas is handsome, intelligent, brave and proud; hands down, the best match for Alexios among all male romance options, and all romance options, for that matter, since my Alexios prefers boys anyway; so I always romance Thaletas in this questline. In my headcanon, Thaletas is Alexios's destined soulmate and lover, partly due to their common background, since they are both Spartans, and mainly because there is this intense chemistry between them. Thaletas is a seemingly arrogant young man who, however, hides a very sensitive and romantic side behind his beautiful features, and it becomes rather obvious that he is smitten with Alexios from the moment when the two of them meet for the first time.

Interestingly enough, this becomes initially clear only if you take a specific path at the start of the questline. As soon as the story starts, you have to check two locations: Kyra's hideout in a secret cave and the beach where Thaletas and his men are fighting against Athenians. If you go to meet Kyra first, she and Alexios will eventually run to the beach to assist Thaletas and will fight alongside him. After the brief battle is over, the scene plays out in a rather neutral way for our hero, as Thaletas's attention is mainly focused towards Kyra, with whom he has an affair, and he doesn't seem to take Alexios into much consideration. Whereas if you go to the beach before visiting the hideout, the first contact with Thaletas will be between him and Alexios only. Kyra will not be present, and in the scene after the battle Thaletas will openly express how impressed he is with Alexios and his battling skills. You can definitely see those love sparkles flickering all around the white sands, and it is more than certain that it was written in the stars for the the two boys to come across each other. Although the rest of the story will unfold the same way even if you and Thaletas had a typical first meeting, choosing to go to the beach first to meet Thaletas on your own, sets the mood and gives you a hint about what the young Spartan might be hiding from his girlfriend. Moreover, if you go to the beach first, Thaletas will arrive a bit later at Kyra's hideout, and there is a brief extra segment in the scene, during which Thaletas offers an almost missable cue about his unexpected feelings towards our hero.

The next part of the story takes place at the rebel hideout where you are called to choose between Kyra's strategy and Thaletas's plan, both aiming at weakening the Athenian forces and, subsequently, making it easier to kill Podarkes. If you decide to aid Thaletas with his aggressive plan, you will have a golden chance to find him alone at the beach and directly flirt with him for the first time. Notably, out of the three crucial dialogue options that you are offered, the two have strong sexual undertones and, even more notably, Thaletas will respond accordingly to either of them, confessing that he is attracted to Alexios, but cannot leave Kyra for the time being. He will then send you on a couple of risky missions that will harm the Athenians, therefore setting the ground for a battle that will favor the Spartans.

At this point, you are recommended to go and talk to Kyra and agree to help her too with her own plan. Her strategy is more stealthy, as it involves secretly destroying the Athenians's supplies and stealing their money. You may skip all her quests, but it is recommenced that you do at least one in order to further weaken Podarkes, therefore making him easier to kill. In any case, after certain missions are completed, an extra one will be unlocked, which will reveal to you a shocking secret about Kyra's past: she is Podarkes's illegitimate daughter, something that she was unaware of all these years that she was seeking revenge from the man who was responsible for the murder of her mother. Meanwhile, your romance with Thaletas keeps blooming, and when all his tasks are done, you can then openly ask him to become your lover, which he will finally accept and admit that he is in love with our hero after teasing him a bit more. But as it turns out, it is more than worth the while, and after their love is consummated, he and Alexios will exchange a warm vow to meet again after the war is over.

On the Kyra front, however, things are rather nasty. You are facing the moral dilemma to reveal her secret to all the rebels or talk to her about it in private. If you do the former, her troops will abandon her and she will get mad at you. Although this looks like a bad move, it is a choice that somehow highlights your intention to take the girl out of the picture, to ensure that Thaletas will never go back to her. Later on, after Podarkes is dead, you will need to speak to her as she is about to burn her father's corpse. There are a few things you can tell her at that point, but only one choice each time will have a good ending as far as she is concerned. All other choices will lead her to commit suicide by falling off a cliff. As bad and malicious as the latter feels, it is the only way for you to have a little hope considering your future with Thaletas, who now seems to have finally made up his mind and has decided to go back to Sparta, praying that he and Alexios will someday cross paths again. So your last chance to keep the flame burning is to make Kyra fall to her death and then lie to Thaletas about her demise. If you tell him the sad news, he will get extremely upset and will not want to see you again, which means that you totally messed up everything. If Kyra is alive, however, not only will Thaletas go back to her, but he will also decide to stay on the Silver Islands with her instead of returning to Sparta. On the positive side, you remain good friends with both of them, and as a bonus, Kyra is thankful that Alexios taught Thaletas new tricks. I guess she is either too confident or too naive to believe that her boyfriend will not seek an encore with the master in the future.
So the choices that you make in this story are decisive for your love life but at the same time are constantly testing your moral standing. If Alexios chooses to save Kyra, he will lose Thaletas for good. But if he makes her kill herself and, assuming he and Thaletas do find each other again after the war as they promised, will he be able to live with the burden of her death in his conscience? My guess is that, since the mercenary's life has definitely hardened him, and seeing that he is able to lie so easily about such a serious matter, he will get over it sooner or later, especially since the prospect of a blissful love life still remains bright for the days to come.

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