Spoiler Alert: Contains minor spoilers for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has become my quaratine game. A gorgeous tour of ancient Greece is a great antidote to never going outside.
One noteworthy thing in the game is how it deals with plague. You encounter it twice.
On the game’s introductory island of Kefalonia, you can run into a side quest called The Blood Fevor. There is a plague, and priests are attempting to contain it… by killing off the families of the infected.
You can either allow this, or you can forcibly prevent it, in which case you have to kill the priests.
If you do not prevent the excutions, you are called a muderer. You try to ‘reassure’ your friend that this was necessary. Later in the game, the Oracle of Delphi tells you that you’re a bad person, because you let yourself be bossed around by an unknown plague.
If you prevent the executions, you are called a hero. Later in the game, you are informed a plauge has spread throughout Kefalonia. No one makes the connection or blames you.
If you also let them keep their money, you are told the plauge has spread throughout Greece. So being superficially generous makes things much, much worse.
This all feels right and seems to explain a lot. It is clear what must be done, but the incentives are all wrong. Even when you are right you still get punished for allowing others to take action. If you prevent others from taking action, even with disasterous consequences, you are considered a hero.
Later, you are given a quest to warn about The Plague of Athens. The plauge is historical, so it can’t be prevented. Warning about it has no effect. Again, this feels right.
When the Plague of Athens does hit, you are given the task to burn some of the bodies to prevent further spread, as Hippokrates (yes, that one, these games are like that) has figured out this will help prevent further infection. The Followers of Ares try to stop you for religious reasons, and you have to kill them. Once again, society primarily moves to violently prevent action.
Then Pericles breaks quarantine and goes outside when everyone tells him not to, and gets himself killed for it. That part is not historical. It felt right in context.
Experiencing the game helped me process why we’ve reacted to today’s plauge the way we did.
Wow. When you gave the first example, my thought was "huh, game is doing typical deontological bullcrap as games often do." By the time you got to the end, I thought "wow, the people who designed this game were very attentive and thoughtful, I'm super impressed."
Interesting post! It makes me much more interested in trying the game. I didn't follow this sentence though:
If you also let them keep their money, you are told the plauge has spread throughout Greece.
Whose money is this? What's its connection to the plague spreading?
I didn't played this game, but played all the previous games of this studio, so I don't know truth but have an assumption. Which is: money equals possibilities. More money often means more travels, more shopping, more feasts with friends, more parties etc. So poor family with illness will have less of interactions with other people, because of their social status, which is connected to money and possibilities.