Sequels Are the Perfect Cure to My Chronic Backlog

I fell off Assassin’s Creed: Origins pretty hard last year. That’s unusual for me. Ever since Assassin’s Creed 2, I’ve devoured Ubisoft’s period piece murder sims from stem to stern. I climbed every tower. I mopped up every side quest and hunted every kind of whale. I even collected all those damn feathers.

Even when I didn’t completely, 100 percent gut an Assassin’s Creed game (like the abysmal AC: Unity), I set smaller goals to sate my completionism. I’d at least unlock every tower, do every scripted side mission, free every district, or what-have-you. That ended abruptly with Origins—despite it being my new favorite entry in the series. I beat it and moved on. I didn’t even bother clearing the DLC I paid another $30 for after release.

My drop-off was partly about size. Origins is ludicrously big. Its vision of Ptolemaic Egypt outstrips the size of previous games by a country mile. Everywhere I went were a dozen more question marks on my map, representing side quests and bandit camps, waiting for me to clear them. The DLC exacerbated the issue. Rather than add new content to existing locales—many of which you don’t explore at all in the main campaign—the expansions sprouted two entirely new regions.

There was simply too much for me to meaningfully chew through. So, despite adoring the game’s personal approach to world-building, Origins went to my backlog—that all-consuming pile of shame where great games go to die.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey changed all that.

Because if I hate anything more than leaving an open-world game “incomplete,” it’s jumping to a sequel without finishing the previous games in a series. I guess there’s a hierarchy to my completionist compulsions. The bigger the thing that needs finishing, the higher it lands on my list of priorities. That’s the one nice thing about Mass Effect going on “hiatus.” Now I don’t have to read anymore prequel novels for a while…

I don’t think I like Odyssey as much as Origins. Admittedly, they offer very different things. The older game is about developing Bayek’s, the primary protagonist’s, sense of justice while learning old Egyptian culture. Scripted side quests have him help farmers recover books on funeral rites, or stop scheming priests from manipulating tradition to their own ends.

Odyssey has much better combat—and a lot of it. You “build” your avatar around a few hand-picked abilities. Then the game sics bounty hunters, wild animals, and entire armies on you. I’m having a blast with that (most of the time). It’s just nothing like the portal Bayek offered into his world.

I’m still glad Odyssey came out when it did. It’s encouraged a dip back into Origins endless sands. The two games are structurally very similar. So it’s easy enough to flit between the two and appreciate both their strengths. Without the new game to remind me why I liked the old one, and to push me towards finishing it before Odyssey, I probably never would have prioritized Origins again.

With so many amazing games coming out every other week this year, I’m just not strong enough settle back into an old favorite without a nudge. In this case, a very similar game that’s just different enough was the perfect cure for my sickening backlog.