Ubisoft is closing out 2020 with a new franchise in Immortals Fenyx Rising. With Watch Dog Legion and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla only having just hit the market it’d be easy to overlook this new title, but honestly, it may be the best game of the trio. Although the ancient Greek setting may draw comparisons to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the fact is Immortals is more closely tied to Nintendo’s Breath of the Wild. The combat, special abilities, and heavy emphasis on puzzle-solving will be appealing to anyone who has spent hours upon hours in Nintendo’s game and is looking for something new.
The story of Immortals Fenyx Rising is pretty straightforward: the Greek gods have been defeated by Typhon and it’s up to Fenyx, aided occasionally by Hermes, to set them free. Prometheus and Zeus provide snarky commentary to add texture to the tale, but otherwise, the story doesn’t expand much for a long time. After finishing the lengthy tutorial the story steps aside and the world opens up. You’ll be tasked with rescuing four gods who have been corrupted by Typhon, but you can do these at your leisure. There is a lot to see and do in Immortals‘ rendition of ancient Greece, and you will want to explore as much as you can to gear up and expand your abilities. I found that alternating between gathering upgrade materials and the occasional story mission worked well to keep things moving, but you can choose to tackle it however you want.
The gameplay in Immortals Fenyx Rising is solid overall, but there are some hiccups. The combat works well and has a fun flow to it once you master the basics. The game keeps it simple with just a heavy and light attack, parrying and dodging, and a set of six special attacks that you can use based on your stamina levels. It may not seem like much, especially compared to games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Breath of the Wild, but I found it kept things rather streamlined. That said, some of the enemy encounters get stale after a while, especially in the early game when it’s just a mix of harpies, undead soldiers, and various animals. It gets better as new enemies are introduced, and you do get to hunt legendary creatures, too.
Similar to the combat system, Immortals has taken the Assassin’s Creed inventory system and pared it down quite a bit. Instead of upgrading individual weapons or armor pieces, you upgrade the entire class of weapon or armor, and all pieces receive benefits from that — even ones you haven’t received yet. Combine that with the game’s transmogrification system and you can choose your equipment based on your play style, both for combat and aesthetic purposes. There’s also no leveling system in Immortals, so you never have to worry about your gear becoming outdated.
The other half of Immortals Fenyx Rising‘s gameplay is the frequent puzzles you will encounter. These take several different forms, such as unlocking doors to gather chests or traversing obstacle courses for loot and upgrades, and for the most part, they are engaging. Some, such as the constellation challenges, can get a bit tedious after a while, but most puzzles are so quick to run through that they never really become a hassle.
It’s worth noting that most of the puzzles aren’t particularly difficult, and the challenge often comes in the form of finding the pieces that you need rather than figuring out what to do. That said, the game can be tricky sometimes and I definitely fell for a few puzzles that disguised their solutions in clever ways. The obstacle courses, called Vaults of Tartarus, provide a different set of challenges, and they’re a highlight of the game. Most of the Vaults are fairly easy to complete, but they include an optional treasure chest hidden somewhere more difficult to acquire even if you can find it. This allows you to play through the game casually if you want, but also increase the difficulty on a whim.
As with the Vaults of Tartarus the game itself isn’t overly difficult. There are multiple difficulty levels you can pick from, and change on the fly, but even the hardest levels won’t pressure most players. The challenge does ramp up as you get farther into the story, but even some of the stronger monsters like legendary creatures and Wraiths (specters of ancient Greek heroes like Achilles and Hercules) never quite make you feel like Guardians did in Breath of the Wild when you first start out. But, if you do long for a challenge Hermes offers daily quests that truly are difficult.
For instance, this past week Hermes offered an optional Vault that you could run which was exponentially harder than anything I found in my play-through. I did eventually clear it, but it took me multiple tries, and my successful run took more than ten minutes. The objective for clearing it with a silver rating was only a minute and forty-five seconds. I also took on a legendary harpy through one of Hermes’ quests, and it was quickly clear I was well out of my element because I still needed many upgrades to find around the map.
The presentation of Immortals Fenyx Rising is an odd amalgamation of many other popular games. The art direction has a feeling of Fortnite, the gameplay is clearly influenced heavily by Breath of the Wild and the UI is lifted wholesale from Assassin’s Creed. The one area that the game does set out on its own is in the storytelling. Prometheus and Zeus provide snarky commentary throughout the game, and it is honestly entertaining.
You’ll meet several other gods as you travel about, and each of them is quirky in their own way without being annoying (most of the time). Fenyx is also entertaining in its own way, and it’s nice to have a non-broody protagonist in an Ubisoft game. Immortals Fenyx Rising does not take itself seriously at all, while oddly staying true to the old Greek myths. Zeus’ promiscuous history is often the subject of jokes, and most of the myths aren’t entirely sanitized.
Immortals Fenyx Rising Review Final Thoughts:
Immortals Fenyx Rising is a surprisingly well put together game that I hope does not get overlooked. It would be easy to dismiss it as a spinoff of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or a knock-off of Breath of the Wild, but it’s much more than that. It streamlines the systems of both games to make it accessible while adding in its own quirks and capitalizing on Greek mythology. Zeus and Prometheus are genuinely funny in their commentary, and they help to give the game its own, distinct voice. An understanding of Greek myths does help with some of the game’s humor at times, but it is by no means required. This is an Ubisoft game, so that does mean there’s a store full of cosmetic items you can buy for real-world money, but as of the time I write this it is truly entirely cosmetic with no gameplay impact at all, so make of it as you will.
Three expansion packs have been announced, although the length of the content they will provide is as-yet-unknown. In any event, the base game comes with a solid 20-30 hours of gameplay in it for most players, and a bit more than that if you are a true completionist. That may seem a bit low compared to Breath of the Wild and Assassin’s Creed, but the experience is satisfying the whole way through and the combination of Prometheus and Zeus really sets it apart. All-in-all I highly recommend Immortals Fenyx Rising for those looking for a fun game that doesn’t take itself too seriously this holiday season.