November 30, 2020 12:00 PM EST
A vibrant, busy world means there’s plenty of exploration in Immortals Fenyx Rising. It draws inspiration from some fantastic titles, however, at times struggles to really differentiate itself from those that have come before it.
Immortals Fenyx Rising, formerly known as Gods and Monsters, is the third title that Ubisoft has released within the launch window of the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X. Following both Watch Dogs Legion and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Immortals Fenyx Rising tells the tale of Fenyx, a plucky underdog tasked with saving the world.
Set on the Golden Isle, Fenyx becomes stranded after an accident which left his crewmates in a petrified state. Upon his arrival, Fenyx realizes something is amiss and finds that all of the gods have been trapped by Typhon, who is seeking revenge after being banished to Tartaros by Zeus.
Unbeknownst to him, it is Fenyx’s job to journey around the island, with the help of Hermes, freeing the gods from Typhon’s control and thus gaining their blessings. The blessings he receives from the gods are more than just their well wishes however, they are perks and buffs that Fenyx can use along his journey.
“While the narration helps to move the story along and offers an interesting take on things, more often than not it wears very thin.”
The story is told and narrated from the perspective of Prometheus and Zeus, both of whom have a keen interest in the proceedings that are taking place. While the narration helps to move the story along and offers an interesting take on things, more often than not it wears very thin. Immortals doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s probably not a bad thing. A game that is literally about gods, monsters, and mythology should be told like the stories they’re replicating. However, as characters, both Prometheus and particularly Zeus are generally unlikeable.
Zeus in particular is portrayed as a bit of a tool. He’s a fun-loving party animal, with a strong disregard for, well, everything. This includes his children, the other gods. While towards the latter part of the game, he has an epiphany that maybe he hasn’t been the best parent, his dialogue throughout the story is little more than grating. The back and forth between him and Prometheus can occasionally provide a little comic relief, but again, they’re largely just annoying. This is a common thread throughout the game as a lot of the characters in Immortals Fenyx Rising tow the line between being quirky and humorous or annoying and obnoxious, with most falling into the latter category.
The Golden Isle is certainly one of Immortals’ strong points. Split into four key areas, one for each of the gods you’re saving, plus two later game areas, the island is bustling and you’re given all the tools you need to explore it.
Like the Ubisoft games that have come before it, Immortals Fenyx Rising requires players to climb to a high point within each area, in this case, a statue, in order to unlock the map. From there, you’re free to explore. The game draws many influences from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the exploration is definitely part of that.
You’re equipped with a pair of wings early on, allowing you to freely glide from point to point around the island. You also are free to explore and climb wherever you like. The game is completely non-linear and you can tackle the four areas in any order with the limitations only being your weapons, health, and stamina.
“Wherever you look across the beautiful landscapes, there is always something going on and the game does a good job of highlighting any points of interest.”
The Island of Immortals feels completely alive. Wherever you look across the beautiful landscapes, there is always something going on and the game does a good job of highlighting any points of interest. Cursory glances around the island will almost always show glowing marks or red plumes, indicating there is something on the horizon to do.
Fenyx also has a “Far Sight” ability. This allows you to scan the island in even greater depth, spotting things that aren’t necessarily visible to the naked eye. From the Far Sight view, you can then mark the points of interest to visit on your journey.
There are a huge variety of challenges littered around the island which means there’s always something to do. You can find three different types of chests, Vaults (which act much like Shrines from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild), a range of puzzles and challenges, which all vary in length, and a litany of enemies, lieutenants, and bosses waiting for you to fight them.
Although there is always plenty to do, not all of the Vaults and puzzles hit the mark. There are some that are genuinely clever and really make you think, the constellation puzzles come to mind here, while others felt a little stale and uninspired and didn’t always necessarily respect my time.
While the puzzles and challenges in Immortals vary in quality and enjoyment, they give you a genuine reason to do them. There is a lot to collect within the game and it has no fewer than five different currencies for you to use to level up different aspects of your character.
Immortals certainly has all the musings of a typical action-adventure RPG with all of the different skill trees and upgrades available. Rather than gaining experience though, you will earn one of the multiple currencies depending on the tasks you complete.
Completing Vaults typically earns you Zeus’s Lightening, used to upgrade your stamina. Finding Ambrosia scattered around the island will help to upgrade your health. Coins of Charon can be earned by completing challenges and puzzles and can be used to upgrade skills and powers. Amber can help to improve potions and the four different coloured shards can be used to upgrade your weapons and armour.
There’s a lot to consider and collect but it never feels overwhelming. The only issue with collecting these currencies is the fact that you generally have to return to one central location to complete your upgrades, breaking up the pacing of the game.
Alongside the hordes of currencies, Immortals Fenyx Rising has an interesting range of loot to track down. While it’s not as deep as something like a Borderlands or Destiny, Immortals has a range of well-designed weapons, armour, and wings to collect, each with a handful of cosmetic options and offering different buffs and abilities.
Throughout the island, you’ll find an exciting range of mythical and non-mythical beasts who are itching for a fight. Gorgon’s, Chimera, and Cyclops’ are all in Fenyx’s line of fire in a very fast-paced, fluid, and slightly uninspired combat system.
You wield both a light and heavy melee weapon for close quarter combat, as well as a bow to allow for ranged attacks. When engaged, you can chain together combos with your sword and axe, dealing damage and building up your combo meter. The higher the meter, the more damage your attacks do.
“There’s a lot to consider and collect but it never feels overwhelming.”
You can also sneak up on enemies and perform devastating stealth attacks. Parry and dodge moves are also included as are a range of special moves, including utilizing your Phoenix companion to help in battle. All of these mechanics feel smooth and satisfying, without feeling wholly unique.
Occasionally the AI in combat felt slightly unbalanced, in favour of both parties. More than once a key enemy got trapped in a loop that allowed me to cheaply chip away at their health. Equally, at times I would fire an arrow from a hidden location, only for my foes to know exactly where I was hiding and then come hunt me down.
“I often felt like Immortals borrowed a lot from Breath of the Wild, without ever really trying to stand on its own two feet.”
As previously mentioned, the game borrows a lot from Breath of the Wild. The climbing, the stamina, the gliding, firing arrows through fire, taming mounts, enemies that change colour depending on their difficulty, the slowing of time when dodging enemies and aiming your bow in flight are all pretty similar to name a few. Then there are the vaults, which often look require you to complete eerily similar tasks to The Legend of Zelda.
Generally, I’d be fine with this. Breath of the Wild is one of the best, most innovative games of all-time and the more games that play like it, the better off they’ll be in my book. This is true as long as they try to iterate on it in some way, though. I often felt like Immortals borrowed a lot from Breath of the Wild, without ever really trying to stand on its own two feet.
Sure, it did away with the rain and weapon durability, but of the features that it borrows that Breath of the Wild introduced, or at least innovated on, Immortals doesn’t really try too hard to evolve them. It does add the ability to speed up your glider, which is nice, and you can guide your arrows which is handy. Other than these small mentionables, there aren’t many other major changes.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is a fun game. It has a huge, vibrant world with tons of adventure and exploration to be had. There’s plenty of loot to collect, enemies to fight, and challenges to complete. Not once will you be stuck for things to do, or will you find yourself trudging across an empty open world.
Sadly, however, it doesn’t feel particularly unique, mythological setting aside. Immortals takes inspiration from many of its Ubisoft predecessors, as well as some other big titles, but it doesn’t really do a good enough job of differentiating itself. There’s no denying that there’s a great time to be had on the Golden Isle, just don’t go into it expecting anything genre-defining.