In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, you can choose to play either Alexios (a man) or Kassandra (a woman), two siblings separated from their Spartan parents during childhood. In the game, their abilities are the same; they wear the same armor and wield the same weapons. Their dialogue is almost identical.
But as a big fan of this enormous historical, stealth-combat, open-world, role-playing extravaganza, I’m here to tell you that Kassandra is the way to go.
Now, I’m happy to admit to being biased here, having spent more than 70 hours with Kassandra (and being wholly smitten with her). I’ve played only five hours as Alexios, plus I’ve watched a bunch of key cutscenes on YouTube. He seems like a decent guy, but he’s not particularly striking or special in the way of Kassandra.
Kassandra is one of the most complete human characters I’ve ever played as in a game. Her facial animations are a joy to watch, while her vocal reactions generally match her movements.
I played Assassin’s Creed Odyssey soon after finishing Shadow of the Tomb Raider, starring the most famous leading woman in gaming, Lara Croft. But I have to say, I like Kassandra a lot more. Her difficult past plays much more convincingly than Lara’s pro-forma lost childhood.
Alexios is a decent guy
I don’t want to diminish the work that went into creating Alexios. As an Assassin’s Creed leading man, he’s at least as good as the gruffly vengeful Bayek, star of last year’s Assassin’s Creed Origins, and much more convincing than many of the two-dimensional assassins we’ve seen in the past. But he lacks the spark and natural poise of Kassandra.
If I had to pinpoint the difference, I’d say it’s in the voice. Melissanthi Mahut plays Kassandra and seems to have given the role a greater range than Alexios’ actor. Mahut has previously worked on Assassin’s Creed games, to her advantage.
Alexios, played by Michael Antonakos, sometimes feels like a cut-out Mediterranean macho hero, almost to the point of parody. He has the aura of a comedically self-important cartoon character. This plays to one part of Alexios or Kassandra’s personality, which, if you make certain choices, can be a bit pompous and grandiose. But while Alexios looks like a man who really believes his own hype, Kassandra is more subtle.
Kassandra’s resting face generally offers an amused half-smile, while Alexios is more grim. His frown gives him a slightly baffled look, as if maybe he left his pet eagle at home. And in Kassandra’s interactions with other people, especially people she likes, there’s an amused twinkle about her. It’s revealing that the official novelization of the game stars Kassandra, not Alexios.
Perhaps it comes down to that most important human trait: a sense of humor. They are both funny in their own way. After all, they speak the same lines. But Kassandra seems more self-aware about how the world sees her, while Alexios sometimes feels a bit gormless. Kassandra is smarter and more emotionally intelligent than her male counterpart, beat for beat.
There are a few YouTube videos doing the rounds, in which their scenes are played side-by-side or mashed together. Watching these, it’s difficult for me to make the argument that Alexios is a patch on his imposing sister. Quite simply, Kassandra is the best.