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Off TopicJun 5, 2019 2:00 pm CT

Off Topic: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey DLC The Fate of Atlantis gets a heartbreaking second installment with some real storytelling teeth

Doing a no-spoilers review of a DLC that is as emotional as The Torment of Hades is pretty difficult.

I’m committed to doing it, so let me just say for the record — this is the DLC installment that is determined to rip out your heartstrings. It neither holds back nor plays fair.

In this chapter of The Fate of Atlantis your personal Eagle Bearer goes to, well, the Greek equivalent of Hell, the realm of Hades, lord of the Underworld. In said Underworld — also called Hades because naming the entire place after himself is a power move Hades isn’t nearly humble enough to resist — you quickly find yourself in conflict with Cerberus, the three-headed monster dog who guards the realm of the dead and keeps people from getting in or out.

Giant Monster Dog Will Make You Sad, Also Maul You

I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say that it’s after you dispatch Cerberus — it’s not at all an easy fight, if that makes you feel better — you actually discover that you’ve made things worse. Hades himself challenges you to fix what you’ve broken before he’ll help you on your quest to learn how to use the Staff of Hermes Trismegistus. Without Cerberus around, the dead are running about pell mell and the barriers between Hades’ realm and the even worse Tartarus are breaking down.

What’s Tartarus? Think Alcatraz for the most evil souls. It’s kind of like if Hell had another, worse Hell for people too awful to be kept in regular Hell. It’s your job to recruit four of the greatest heroes of legend to step up and take Cerberus’ place as guardians of the Underworld, seal all the rifts letting evil dead out of Tartarus, and in the process find yourself face to face with all the people who suffered and died as a result of your actions throughout the main game.

Again, no spoilers, but if you are thinking What about that person, that was really sad then yes, you will face the consequences of that moment in Torment of Hades and it is absolutely a heartbreaker. I legit teared up several times, in between hooting in laughter at my Kassandra’s frustration at yet another of the evil jerks she’d dealt with in life showing up in the Underworld up to no good, or even having to negotiate with at least one major villain from the main story as allies. It’s very much a I know this is going to end badly, but it makes so much sense story moment.

Torment of Hades does what few RPG’s can do and actually sits back and analyzes what kind of carnage the player leaves in their wake without making it Oh, aren’t you ashamed of how you’re the real monster? Instead, it’s a much more nuanced and interesting portrayal of how your choices and failures make you who you are.

Don’t worry, there’s still a lot of stabbing

Don’t assume this is an all-talk no-fight DLC — there’s a new combat mechanic in the Tartarus Rifts that adds a new wrinkle to the series’ gameplay, the Cerberus fight is intense and you’ll have plenty of people to fight, including some of ancient Greece’s most mythical figures. At one point I realized I was desperately trying and failing to kick the ass of one of the most famous mythical figures in human history and I kind of could not stop smiling. Torment of Hades has a lot to recommend it, it’s fun, fast paced and packed with callbacks to moments and events in the main game. The Underworld itself, however, is drab and ugly and uniformly dismal, and a bit of a thematic letdown after the beautiful fields and majestic views of Elysium in part one of the DLC.

Also, breaking The Fate of Atlantis up into chapters and parceling them out separately does make the whole experience feel a little stifled. I was not done when it ended — I wanted to see how it concludes. Being that The Fate of Atlantis is potentially the end of Alexios or Kassandra’s story and I’ve really fallen in love with my Eagle Bearer and want to see more from them, it’s a bittersweet chapter and one I feel needed to be available.

I definitely recommend Torment of Hades but be warned — if you didn’t play the main game, you’ll lose out on a lot of what makes this DLC worthwhile. The callbacks it makes and the characters it features won’t mean much to you if you didn’t interact with them and make decisions about their ultimate fates. Otherwise, this is a very solid chapter in what is so far the best DLC for a RPG I’ve played in years. Amazing that a story that is on the surface about the conflict between Hades and his unwilling wife Persephone ends up being so much more personal and character driven, but there it is.

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