Warning: Spoilers for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey ahead.
A lot has been written about the epic story of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and it’s true that the main quests of the game span a massive map and take players on a journey that blends myth, mystery, and the requisite boatloads of murder. But I think the game is at its best in its quieter beats.
Far from the battle against the Cult of Kosmos or the search for Alexios or Kassandra’s family are the Silver Islands of Mykonos and Delos. They are home to a pair of revolutionaries who are very much in love, bound together in a battle driven by hate. These are Kyra and Thaletas, and when the player character arrives to aid their rebellion, their story becomes one of Odyssey‘s best and most tragic arcs.
It’s easy to see why Kyra and Thaletas love each other. They are passionate, driven people whose bloodlust comes from complementary desires for revenge and Spartan glory. They’re the kind of couple that can disagree on fundamental aspects of life and still care about each other. How quickly they must have fallen in love.
Thaletas and Kyra’s existing relationship adds a layer of tension and misbehavior to the player’s choice to romance either one of them. Unlike the game’s other sex options, the romantic interests actually have something to lose by falling for the misthios (i.e., the player character). (The option to go buck wild on a threesome is floated in some of the game’s text but is always left unrealized. Bummer.)
75 hours into playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, it’s Thaletas I’m still thinking about.
The choice to become a homewrecker is, of course, up to the player. It’s possible to play the Silver Islands questline without getting laid at all. But it’s narratively more interesting to pick a lover, because in that choice lies one of the only stories where love and sex complicate the misthios’s life in a way that feels impactful.
To start, the romances feel earned and real. Thaletas and the misthios fight side by side, and his admiration quickly becomes romantic and sends him into conflict. Kyra can be equally impressed with the misthios’s willingness to help her achieve her goals and allow herself to give in to her passions. There’s pathos there, and reasoning beyond a desire for sex — which makes the way the Silver Islands questline ends even stronger.
Regardless of who is chosen, an element of Greek tragedy arises. After affirming their feelings for the misthios and expressing a desire to continue with their relationship, the great love story of Mykonos nearly always ends badly. The player may be forced to kill Thaletas or helplessly watch as either of their lovers die. Even if the chosen romantic partner survives, the quest ends by separating the misthios from their lover forever.
In my playthrough, Alexios was helplessly drawn to Thaletas and guiltily lured him away from Kyra. The men became friends and lovers, and I was silly enough to imagine them as a pair of warriors who would fight side by side like members of the Sacred Band of Thebes for the duration of the game (you’re going to want to look that up).
At the end of the questline, however, the two reached an impasse. Thaletas was promoted to the rank of general and begged Alexios to return with him to Sparta. He wanted the misthios to abandon his quest to find his family for the sake of their love. Alexios declined… and in a later scene, witnessed Kyra die by suicide.
Faced with the choice of returning Thaletas to tell him that his former lover — the one who did want to spend her life with him — was dead, Alexios told the truth. Thaletas rejected Alexios for good. They never spoke again.
75 hours into playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, it’s Thaletas I’m still thinking about. Did he make it back to Sparta OK? Does he miss Alexios? Will I one day sneak into a Spartan fort and find him patrolling with a Polemarch’s symbol floating above his head, just another thoughtless target standing in the way between my character’s goals and his feelings?
That’s the kind of character work and story that makes Odyssey great. The Silver Islands may be a series of side quests that don’t really affect the main story, but the emotional impact of losing a friend and a lover stayed with me as a player for the rest of the game.
I’d be delighted if Kyra (has she survived, as she does in other playthroughs?) or Thaletas would turn up in one of Odyssey’s upcoming DLC stories as a way to acknowledge how dearly Alexios cared for them, but the current ending is probably the smart way to go. There are just enough blanks to fill in with a player’s imagination…
…Oh fuck that. Come back, Thaletas!