Greek mythology is the foundation of modern storytelling, with its influence being felt in books, films and of course video games. There have been video games utilising Greek Mythology through storytelling and thematic elements, such as the original God of War games, the smash hit and Bafta-winning Hades from 2021, and the 2000’s cult classic ARPG Titan Question. Although we don’t tend to see many games centring on Greek Mythology, and I wonder why? However, after booting up and playing through Achilles Legends Untold, there might be some light shed on this question. And the answer? Well, read on. What is Achilles Legends Untold?
Centred on one of the mythologies' most famous heroes, Achilles Legends Untold embarks players on a quest for vengeance as the fallen hero Achilles. After an intense invasion of the city of Troy, Achilles is defeated in combat and rises from the dead 10 years later. Why has he come back? What has happened to Greece? And why are there numerous walking dead, and giant trolls wondering about?
So many questions, about where the answers lie within the decaying ruins filled with skeleton armies, bandit camps, and the golden palaces of your mortal enemies. Achilles: Legends Untold is inspired by classic ARPGs of the past, such as Diablo and Titan Quest, bringing in vastly beautiful graphics, a massive sprawling world that’s highly immersive and detailed, and good old-style hack-and-slash gameplay.
But what else does it bring to the table? … Well. Drawn in, a moth to a photorealistic flame
I was drawn to Achilles Legends Untold as it had a fantastical aura about it, and I’m a big fan of ARPGs and Greek mythology. Plus the visuals for this looked pretty amazing, as Achilles Legends Untold is made in Unreal Engine 5, with a high grade of polish, staggering photorealism and immense detail that makes it look somewhat like those visually stunning fake game screenshots from 2007, but it’s real.
This reminded me that looks can be misleading, and it’s not always about what’s on the outside, as after playing Achilles Legends Untold for around 10 hours, I let out a sign of averageness.
Just to be totally clear, Achilles Legends Untold is a fine game, it can be rather good in the right measurements, but it’s a game that feels way too safe and familiar, from its story, combat and the general lack of compelling dynamics in the gameplay and world.
Achilles Legends Untold by no means holds back on its visual presentation, as it is stunning through the immense graphical fidelity on show. Yet, it is not so through its artistic merits. The game does look immensely photorealistic, showing off some beautifully grounded visuals, making it look the perfect part of a recreated ancient Greece. However, for the most part, there is a lack of an attractive art direction, and the missing flare of creativity means you’ve seen this world multiple times, you’ve fought these monsters in countless encounters, and you’ve been here and seen it already. There are hardly any unique spins on creature designs or world-building, and again, while it all looks incredibly impressive from a graphical standpoint, it feels very humdrum at the same time.
There are a few sections more akin to the Hellish underworld, that do have an air of weirdness and capture something otherworldly, yet also remain largely grounded and are just bathed in shadows and glowing amber lights. The remainder of the supernatural elements such as beasts and monsters don’t look all that appealing compared to the likes of O.G God of War, or Hades. Even Titan Quest had more fun with various design aspects and incorporated a visual flare with its otherworldly moments back in 2005.
That’s not to say there is no merit for the visuals, as mentioned this is a highly photorealistic, highly detailed, and at the end of the day, quite a breathtaking-looking game. There are some beautiful shots and framing, as the camera pans over might vistas, and looming bottomless chasms. Water, dirt and other elemental effects look immensely organic and there weren’t any moments which seemed uncanny or ultra-shiny like so many Unreal Engine games suffer from.
But after a few hours exploring Greece, both its grounded and more otherworldly counterparts, get a tad dull, lacking any true visuals standouts, or artistic style and never evoking anything truly astonishing, like something from a game like Demon’s Souls, Hades, or Immortals Fenyx Rising, which had a lovely art style, creative monsters and just a more adventure vibe overall. Greek Diablo
Achilles Legends Untold does manage to deliver a simple, yet satisfying gameplay loop, feeling akin to something old, familiar and wholesome, but again very safe.
Achilles’ adventure takes him through numerous locations, namely a beautiful rendition of ancient Greece, filled with monsters, hidden loot, and plenty of skeletons. It’s a mash of certain Dark Souls elements including this game’s version of Bonfires, the high level of challenge and losing XP upon death. With all these elements wrapped in a traditional ARPG blanket. You’ll be venturing through a massive and highly detailed map, fighting monsters, collecting weapons and gear, and discovering secrets around every corner.
In general, there’s a good flow of fighting and discoveries, with plenty of clusters of baddies, which vary from encounter to encounter. One moment you’re fighting skeleton warriors in a graveyard, the next it’s a legion of highly trainer soldiers in a village bathed in flames and screams. The world is great to wander around and unravel, finding lost tombs, dungeons, treasure and more, while showcasing an impressive number of environments from decrepit forests, poisonous swamps, magnificent palaces, rocky mountain paths and much more. The amount of enemies to fight will keep you thoroughly engaged and soaked in the blood of your enemies.
Combat itself is pretty decent, if not a little repetitive after a few hours. You have all the classic ARPG stables from a nice roaster of weapons and plenty of cool gear that can either poison your weapon, give you extra strength or simply make a big boom in a crowd of skeleton warriors. There are some great special attacks that will make you feel like a total boss, while the variety of enemies is again impressive and does keep things fresh throughout the 10-hour adventure.
The enemies themselves are a bit of a mixed bag, with many of them feeling all too familiar and behaving like one another. Most enemies, whether they be big or small, will usually make a b-line for you, and just swing their weapons about. There are very few enemies with intelligent tactics or unique attacks and manoeuvres. There are the odd enemies such as the invisible cosmic horror beasts which can only be seen via a special skill obtained 1/3 of the way through the campaign. And the human enemies, or groups of them do present a neat sense of challenge and strategy. There are different classes of human enemies, be it those who use long-range weapons, spears and others who are incredibly fast, and armed with multiple weapons. They work in tangent to take you down, often showing simple flanking manoeuvres and doing a decent job at overwhelming you. It’s pretty great in the first couple of hours, but once you learn their patterns they do become quite easy to deal with and never evolve as the game goes on.
And like any good ARPG, there is a skill tree where when you level up, you can assign points to attributes such as strength, vitality, endurance, luck and so forth, making you a better warrior inside and out. It’s a vast system of a multitude of perks, with unlockable skills to obtain helping you counterattack, or obtain health with each hit you land on an enemy. It’s quite a brilliant array of upgrades and perks that kept me motivated to keep levelling up and becoming the ultimate warrior.
Achilles Legends Untold core gameplay loop is perfectly fine but feels too familiar with the same formula we’ve seen before with other ARPGs. And while many games do follow the same foundation, they tend to add compelling dynamics and twists to set themselves apart. Diablo 2, Neverwinter Nights, and Victor Vran, all add in something or change the formula up in some way, be it impactful level design, immense monster hunting, immersive character development or a rich story that evolves in meaningful ways. Achilles Legends Untold sticks to the rule book, and sticks to it hard, never feeling the urge to do something different or wholly noteworthy.
. Greek Cheese + B Movie + Some questionable porn style acting
Now we get to the legend himself, or at least a vastly loose interpretation of it. We see Achilles fall in battle as he leads the invasion of the City of Troy. 10 years after his defeat, Achillies rises from the dead wondering how he came to be and with a lust for vengeance on those who killed him. And from here, the story is basically a long list of fetch quests and rescuing people … and not much else.
The story could have been more compelling if it had some more thoughtful/engaging story beats or better character development. The plot structures around Achilles going to aid one person to the next. Be it waking up in the cemetery and finding a blacksmith, then finding their apprentice instead and helping them first. You find their special tools in a nearby location and retrieve them. Then you head to the Blacksmith, and once you find him, you must retrieve something else before he can aid you. Then helping the Blacksmith find a hunter lost in a dark forest… and so on.
It’s a very formulaic chessboard style of storytelling where the protagonist goes from person to person, completes a fetch quest, and moves on, to one of the very few major plot points that occur, until you reach the end. There’s very little development with Achilles or the people around him. They all feel robotic, and what you would expect from a jokingly stereotypical NPC character. I know something like Oblivion had many mindless fetch quests (mainly optional), but there were characters will roaring personas, exciting developments, and amazing world-ending events that would keep you captivated. Achilles Legends Untold just feels like a big, open map littered with tasks, and random people you can get more tasks from beginning to end.
There is a lack of devastation, drama, almighty twists, booming romances and the like, and this is based on one of the most famous Greek mythology icons. It’s just a flat line of Achilles going from one quest giver to another, venturing through a dungeon or two, and defeating a selection of powerful foes along the way to the endgame.
There are some choices dotted throughout the campaign, which aim to give a sense of purpose and gravitas, yet don’t amount to a whole lot, aside from changing some things at the end of the game.
And yeah, I have to bring up the voice work, which is not bad, but the range of inconsistency and the oddness of many of the voices is quite off-putting. Now to be fair, I know many people from overseas, particularly from Eastern Europe, who speak perfect English, and have a certain twang to their speak. It’s very distinct which many non-native English speakers have and you can hear it for a select few characters here. That’s all fine. But then you get accents which are much more American, or Americans hiding their accents, which sounds very odd. Then there are voice actors who just sound so disinterested on a whole. Then Achilles has a super odd accent, sounding like his actor might be Australian being Greek (somewhat like Sam Worthington in many films, hiding his accent).
On the whole, it’s a vastly dull tale that should have been brimming with life, love, excitement and more weirdness. Overall?
Achilles Legends Untold is like a cheese sandwich (bear with me). It’s a tasty, wholesome, if not a little bland snack that does the job of satisfying your hunger but will certainly leave you wanting more. Well, other better ARPGs (like Diablo 2) are like toasted cheese sandwiches, with a bowl of tomato soup, more filling, beautifully tasty, and offer a richer experience that will make you want it again and again no matter how many times you eat it.
So, enough about food. Achilles Legends Untold is a fine game, with good combat, world design and plenty of discoveries to enjoy. However, it is all too familiar and painfully so at times. It doesn’t stand out in the genre and will find a difficult time standing out in the sea of gaming overall. It’s still worth checking out if you fancy a few hours of good old ARPG fun, or if you don’t have anything else to play. But I would like to see what the developers bring us next, as they have an eye for a satisfying gameplay loop and impressive world design. But in the case of Achilles Legends Untold, I feel the urge to say “Jack of all trades, Master of none”.
++ Looks pretty spectacular
++ Awesome world with plenty of fights, loot and secrets
+ Decent combat, character progression and a variety of weapons
-- Lacks any original dynamics or compelling mechanics
- The story is very dull
- Looks nice, but lacks any cool artistic styles or design elements
A PS5 copy of Achilles Legends Untold was kindly provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.