- Achilles: Legends Untold Review – A Soulslike Venture Through Ancient Greece - November 2, 2023
- Achilles: Legends Untold – Best Talent Tree Skills - November 2, 2023
I was drawn to Achilles: Legend Untold because of its ancient Greek setting and RPG flair. As someone who sets the narrative element of a game above all else and who has studied (and continues to study) ancient Greek myth, literature, and history, to say this game appealed to me simply in concept is an understatement. And while I wasn’t disappointed, I wasn’t overly impressed either.
Achilles: Legend Untold is sold as a “novel blend of action RPG and complex combat system,” and I will come outright and say this at the very beginning: although this game is packed with plenty of action, and its “complex combat system,” while not exactly “complex,” is pretty fun and easy to comprehend, it is severely lacking in the RPG element.
Fighting Fear and Slaying Spartans
The combat, as mentioned, is quite fun for the most part, as you take on the Greek armies under Menelaus and Agamemnon, and mythological creatures such as cyclopes and griffons that serve the god of fear. It can be very hack-and-slash at times, and very tactical at others (usually boss fights are the latter). The difference between the multiple weapons you can wield (more on that later) spices things up just enough to prevent the combat from getting boring too soon, which is great.
It also looks very nice, as the character and weapon movements are smooth, and the effects, all around, aid with the immersion. However, outside of certain boss fights, it doesn’t take too long to get a read on the attack patterns of your enemies, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
That being said, there are some significant drawbacks to the combat that are overly punishing and borderline arbitrary, especially early on in the game. In that regard, I am specifically referring to the stamina bar, which is a bar that, when depleted, no longer allows you to attack, sprint, or dodge.
As I gained levels and talent points, I felt obligated to opt into Endurance talent points, which increased Achilles’ stamina. Without these Endurance points, I could barely get any attacks in before running out of stamina, which then led me to being unable to dodge, and finally resulted in me getting swarmed by enemies.
And that brings me to another issue: getting stun-locked. The combat is very good for one-on-one fights, or fights with only a few enemies, but once you get to a number that can swarm you and prevent Achilles from rolling out, it’s a bad day. And the worst part is, you can’t do anything about it. The best way to avoid this fate is by running at all times, but since running depletes your stamina bar too, it’s nearly impossible to do so.
Again, And Again, And Again
Once you’ve finished the main story questline, your end-game content mainly consists of clearing Rifts, setting dead Myrmidons to rest, releasing captured civilians, clearing cellars and dungeons, hunting down Laestrygonians, upgrading your gear, filling out your talent tree, and opting into the New Game+ option once you’ve finished all the latter, which lets you play through the story again and resets all the formerly mentioned content.
Everything about this is perfectly fine except the need to repeat the story indefinitely. There needs to be a better end-game loop than being forced to reset the story in order to reset all the other content. There are some interesting boss fights through the story too, but why do I have to play through the story again to reach the boss I want to fight again?
Why do I have to play through the story again to run through more Rifts? Why do I have to… ah, you get my point. Players should be allowed to repeat and grind their favorite content in this game without needing to grind the story too.
Shiny New Armor and Sharp New Blades
You are naturally given more powerful armor sets as you progress through the main story, making it so you can’t choose what type of armor Achilles is wearing unless you keep him stuck in a certain part of the narrative. Although that might be dull and unrewarding, it is easily made up for by the plethora of weapons you can wield, along with the upgrading system.
An Arsenal at Your Disposal
Each weapon has different attack animations, and some are better at others depending on what kind of opponent(s) you’re challenging. Your weapon choices (which you naturally discover and loot throughout playing the game) are as follows:
- One-handed swords
- One-handed axes
- Two-handed swords
While you can’t dual-wield anything with the two-handed swords, you can mix and match pretty much anything else. The only exception to this is the spear, which you can only pair with a shield, not another one-handed offensive weapon.
On top of this, there are different damage types (physical, dark, divine), and certain weapons inherently have extra effects, namely bleed, burn, and poison. Each damage type excels against certain types of enemies, so planning your combat around this, while not essential, can make things smoother for you.
I think this system is well-fleshed out and holds just enough variance to make it interesting while not too difficult to learn.
Upgrading and Craftables
The upgrading system is basic and easy to learn. So is the crafting system, as the craftable items themselves add to your arsenal with the likes or darts, grenades and more. I have no issues with either and enjoy their simplicity since it allows you to focus more on the combat itself rather than learning to understand an unnecessarily complex system. Additionally, I am extremely fond of the fact that any armor upgrades carry over to the next set of armor you are given via the main story questline, so you don’t unknowingly waste resources.
An Astrological Skill Tree of Wonders
The talent tree is simple and easy to pick up. Frankly, it’s not the most interactive talent tree I’ve ever seen, and I think they could do a bit more with it, but as it stands right now, it’s fine. There are a few talent points that give you new abilities or enhance an existing ability with additional effects, but other than that, all the talent points are simply direct buffs to certain stats. You just need to pick which stat you want to invest in and take the corresponding talent points as you go.
The Cost of Convenience
When it comes to certain quality-of-life bits, there are a few things worth mentioning, as it often felt like every time there was a good thing in place, the devs missed a seemingly obvious opportunity to fully capitalize on it. First and foremost, I must say that being able to sell items on the spot without needing to go to a vendor (specifically the Smith) is wonderful, allowing me to constantly manage my inventory so it doesn’t ever become too clunky. Furthermore, when crafting, there is a mass-craft option that lets you craft high numbers of individual items at a time.
So then, where did the mass-sell and mass-buy options go? Thus far, you can only sell and buy items one at a time, so imagine how sad I was when I manually had to sell 150 coal one at a time and buy 50 darts one at a time. It was a complete waste of time.
Secondly, the fact that you can fast travel from Shrine of Hades to Shrine of Hades is superb, however being unable to teleport to one of the shrines unless you’re already at an existing shrine seems like an unnecessary condition and a way to artificially increase game-time via traveling to shrines.
Sure, Ariadne’s Thread is an item you can loot that will teleport you to Achilles’ last-visited shrine, but why even implement this in the first place when the easy and convenient solution is to just allow players to teleport to shrines from wherever they are (as long as they’re out of combat, of course).
A “Meh” Narrative
On the whole, the story is predictable, basic, and inconsistent. Plus, it often feels like Achilles is the Smith’s errand boy until he can help him do what he needs to do. Look, if I wanted to do meaningless and uninteresting quests, I’d play an MMORPG that has me kill 12 gnolls or loot 10 apples.
So, being forced to do these while trying to progress the main story was upsetting. Hell, even Achilles himself complains about being the Smith’s errand boy a couple of times. At least, then, the game is relatively self-aware.
Granted, it doesn’t remain like this the whole time, but getting through those parts wasn’t too fun. Also, the voice acting, while decent in some scenarios, is, in large part, not great (and quite cringe at times).
I did appreciate the occasional “Malaka” though.
To Kill or Not to Kill
There is something to be said about player choice, however brief. Once you’ve defeated certain bosses, you are given a choice: spare them or kill them. While this is a very intriguing aspect of the narrative and has the potential to kick it up a notch, it was ultimately a letdown.
On my second play-through of the story, I made all the opposite decisions regarding this spare/kill mechanic from my first play-through and was disappointed when nothing came of it. Thus, even though there is some player choice, it is an illusion, as the course of the story is unchanged. But, even so, I appreciate the option to choose.
Ancient Art, Epic Music
Frankly, the art and music may be the best parts of the game for me. Granted, I am quite biased, so any Greek-styled setting that is done even remotely well will make me happy. Bearing that in mind, I don’t think there are enough panoramic shots throughout the game to allow the player to truly see the scope of the art on a grander scale. Sure, there are a couple, and they’re gorgeous, but I wanted more.
When it comes to the music, it captures a great epic feeling, especially the opening track on the title screen that sets the tone for a truly epic adventure. Sadly, I don’t think the narrative and gameplay necessarily live up to the high stands set by the music, but regardless, it’s the type of music I would listen to while in an intense game of SMITE or going for a run.
Pros and Cons
- Fun and diverse combat system
- Gorgeous artwork (the fact that it is ancient Greece-themed is a massive plus for me)
- Wonderful music
- Good combat replayability
- Lacking/basic narrative
- Sub-par voice acting
- Poor story replayability
- Diablo IV
- Curse of the Dead Gods
- Neon Abyss
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (only if you’re looking for more of the Greek aesthetic, though)
Question: Is the Entire Game Voice Acted or Just Parts?
Answer: The entire game is voice-acted, but do not despair, for you can skip through the dialogue with a spam click of the space bar.
Question: Are There Multiple Difficulties to Choose From?
Answer: Yes, but only two: Wanderer (basic difficulty) and Hero (enhanced difficulty). The Wanderer difficulty can still be a challenge though, especially for players new to soulslike games.
Question: How Much Time Does it Take to Finish the Main Story?
Answer: If you’re streamlining it, around 5 hours. I made some detours (and had trouble with one of the bosses), so it took me 7ish hours.
Verdict: Only worth a buy if you are a lover of souls-like combat. Not worth a buy if you’re seeking a good story.
The combat, music, and art are what carry this game to the finish line for me. The story and voice acting left me wanting, and at times were annoying or just plain boring. This is a far cry from an immersive narrative experience, and I don’t think it offers much, if anything, to the game as a whole.
As such, I can confidently say that you need to be a soulslike fan to truly enjoy this game, and make no mistake, the combat is a very healthy mix of fun and challenging. So, if that type of combat experience intrigues you (especially if you’re a fan of an isometric perspective), then you should absolutely give this game a whirl.
I have 22.8 hours put into Achilles: Legend Untold, and even though I’m still short on a few of the hidden achievements, I feel like I’ve done everything I wanted to do in the current game. Sure, I could go back and play the story over and over to unlock more talent points to max out my talent tree, but honestly, I don’t see the point of doing so.