Immortals Fenyx Rising Review
Immortals Fenyx Rising is an exciting new action-exploration adventure from Ubisoft. Taking clear inspiration from Breath of the Wild, Ubisoft hopes to combine the rewarding open-world exploration of Link’s greatest adventure with the more structured progression of their top RPG titles. With the fantastic debut of Genshin Impact showing the gaming community is still very much loving the more exploration-based RPGs, Immortals Fenyx Rising is hitting the shelves at the perfect time for the genre.
Immortals Fenyx Rising Review
Immortals Fenyx Rising is set on the magnificent Golden Isles, a mythological land of Ancient Greece where Gods, mortals, and mythological creatures roam the open fields and dominate the highest peaks. The story begins with a simple but effective character creation suite that allows you to change the gender of its main hero Fenyx, as well as some other minor appearance options before setting out on an adventure to save the Gods of Olympus.
Sick of the greed, jealousy, cheating, and murder of the Gods of Olympus, Typhon, one of the most powerful titans in existence, breaks free from his mountain prison, where he was placed after an epic battle for ruler of the cosmos against the mighty Zeus.
Zeus, sick and tired of the selfish and belligerent mortals, turned them all to stone, looking to start afresh with his creation of mankind. This angered and divided the other Gods, giving Typhon the perfect opportunity to return to the surface and, one by one, separate the Gods from a soul-like force known as Essence.
While those in the mortal realm face eternity trapped in stone, one lowly shield-bearer survives: Fenyx. Shipwrecked on the Golden Isles, separated from his crew and legendary warrior brother Ligyron, Fenyx sets out on a journey to restore peace to the Golden Isles and return the once powerful gods back to their true selves.
At a glance, the story can appear rather serious for a game of this visual design and creative nature. While it does have its darker moments, it’s more often a lighthearted look at the darker and more sinister aspects of Greek Mythology. Zeus, the almighty leader of all the gods, is often portrayed in an almost paragon of virtue style in a lot of media. However, in truth he cheated on his wife more times than any human could count, murdered mortals, engineered the entire Pandora’s Box fiasco, and condemned Prometheus to a life of torture. It should go without saying that this is just a very brief breakdown.
While Immortals Fenyx Rising is happy to dive into the seedier side of the Greek Gods and Mythology, it does so with a cheesy grin, keeping the narrative light and entertaining throughout. The writing and character design won’t appeal to everyone; Zeus comes across as a bit of an empty-headed mass of muscle, and most of the other Gods are almost caricature in design. Throughout the entire story, Zeus and Prometheus provide narration over the story. Sometimes this offers a deeper insight into particular aspects of Greek Mythology, other times it’s some comical back and forth in a battles of egos and smarts. While the tongue-in-cheek nature of the narrative won’t appeal to everyone, I had a really good time witnessing the back and forth banter between Greece’s most iconic Gods.
It’s very clear within minutes of beginning Fenyx’s adventure that this is another Ubisoft game. Fans of Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Watch Dogs will immediately recognize the core mechanics from all of these franchise games, proud and present center stage. The tower mechanic is still in play (albeit with only a few of them), along with the same map mechanics and reward systems. It’s all very familiar, but unlike Ubisoft’s other hit games, it feels entirely out of place.
Breath of the Wild, and more recently Genshin Impact, captured the beauty of exploration – something that has taken a backseat in a lot of today’s games as developers attempt to thrust players down linear paths and set objectives. Whether one is climbing a random cliff to find a named enemy or a hidden chest, or diving to the depths of the lake to discover a lost helmet, it’s real exploration where sometimes you find magnificent wonders and other times you spend 15 minutes climbing a cliff to find nothing.
Immortals Fenyx Rising doesn’t have that same love and emotion in the exploration of an otherwise gorgeous game world. While Ubisoft has taken a slight step back, it’s nowhere near enough for a game of this style. Climbing my first tower, a huge statue of Aphrodite, I was immediately fatigued at the thought of climbing yet more towers in yet another Ubisoft game. There’s only a handful, so that fatigue disappeared over time, but was replaced by the disappointing introduction of scouting.
Whenever you reach a new tower to climb, you’re encouraged to use its Far Sight feature, a set of binoculars of sorts. You sit atop a high peak and scan around the map waiting for the controller to vibrate and a small icon to appear so you can reveal the objective permanently on your map. This works for puzzles, chests, vaults, and most of the title’s content. While exploring is very much a thing, it’s never diving into the unknown, as you know exactly what to expect around the next corner. It’s an intuitive system that’s counterintuitive to the genre’s core concepts.
After climbing my first tower, I looked at the vast lands below. Immortals Fenyx Rising has a huge game world; nowhere near as big as Ubisoft’s other games, but plenty big enough to have a good time running from objective to objective. Taking down various Mythological beasts like Cyclops, Minotaurs, and Gorgons, the enemy variety is very lacking but the combat system is a blast – at least initially.
It follows the core fundamentals of light and heavy attacks with parrying and dodging as defensive options. Executing a perfect dodge slows time, allowing Fenyx to unleash his most powerful god-like abilities, and nailing a perfect parry can send projectiles hurtling back at the source. Both actions make you feel like a total badass when executed correctly, but the rest of the combat struggles to keep up. Combining the different god powers is a very rewarding experience, but it becomes very repetitive towards the latter stages of the game.
While there’s a few weapons and armor pieces to grab from chests, the core concept doesn’t improve throughout the game. The core three weapon types – sword, hammer, and bow – are a constant, meaning the combat never evolves any further than the first few hours of the game. You’ll use the same combinations of attacks, the same abilities, and the same approach to combat. It leaves the progression feeling a little stagnant and lacking compared to other titles in the genre.
The two main design elements Immortals Fenyx Rising shares with the likes of Breath of the Wild and Genshin Impact are puzzles; if you can see somewhere, you can get there. The climbing feels solid; though it’s very slow (and without certain ability upgrades, very frustrating), it does allow the player to explore almost anywhere on the map. The puzzles are arguably one of its most appealing elements, even for me, someone that absolutely hates – and equally sucks – at puzzles in video games.
I found a lot of the puzzles to be far too simple. It was a 10-15 second glance to discover the solution, and then several minutes of messing with the games physics and puzzle mechanics to get the solution in place. I never really felt I was completing puzzles, seldom getting the satisfaction experienced when winning a battle of wits. It felt more like I was simply going through the motions of what a puzzle should be without ever being, well, puzzled.
That’s a very subjective perspective. There are a lot of accessibility options in the game that can provide hints and tips towards solving the puzzle content, making it very clear that accessibility over difficulty was Ubisoft’s direction here. It’s likely to be a hit or miss part of the game for many. Some of the puzzles are very creative – and it’s a pleasure to watch the pieces fall into place – but some players may feel a little underwhelmed at the basic elements of the puzzle solving.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is a charming and fun adventure into Greek mythology with Ubisoft’s trademark core design elements thrown in to support the experience. It is a worthwhile adventure for those looking to scratch that Breath of the Wild itch, but one that experienced Ubisoft fans may feel is a little too familiar.
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