When big entertainment studios attempt to portray a foreign culture – Greek, Persian, Romaic, Egyptian, even Japanese – their efforts often fall flat. They often hit the wrong cultural note by dumbing down the depictions of that particular culture and reducing it to cliches.
French video game developer Ubisoft seems to be aware of this problem. For its latest entry in its famed Assassin’s Creed franchise (tentatively titled Odyssey ), it appears keen to deliver its players an authentic as possible experience of what Ancient Greece was all about.
This is evident in the game’s astounding visual diversity. It’s not just all “ancient ruins made of marble”; attention is paid to the physical differences between the isles of Mykonos and Delos.
It would’ve been easy to hire a few voice actors and have them fake a few “Nai”, “Ohi” or “Opas” but Ubisoft didn’t.
Not only that, but it has also committed to ensuring that all the game’s voice actors are true-blue Greeks.
The parts of the main roles are voiced by relative unknowns, Melissanthi Mahut and Mihalis Antonakos, who respectively play the female hero, Kassandra and male hero, Alexios (players can choose which protagonist they want to play). This provides an authentic experience, enhanced by the fact that almost every voice heard in the game has a real Greek accent.
It would’ve been easy for a studio like Ubisoft to take the easy way out and hire a few well-known professionals and get them to fake a few “Nai”, “Ohi” or “Opas” and surround them with others mouthing Greek sounds, but they chose not to.
“What we tried to do was look for actors who are Greek or have Greek ancestry”, said the game’s audio director Lydia Andrew during an interview with website VG247. “We really felt like it was a nice opportunity for us to have a deep dive into the culture of Greece and obviously ancient Greece. You can have a great actor who’s great at accents, and that’s fantastic, but you can also find great Greek actors and work with them too”.
The game celebrates Ancient Greece as few others have done. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was unveiled during the E3 Expo in California last week. Players will be able to venture to the virtual Greek islands and find out the story behind the Peloponnesian War when the game is released on 5 October.