Review – Immortals Fenyx Rising
Immortals Fenyx Rising was first unveiled to the public as Gods and Monsters back at E3 2019, as Ubisoft’s last surprise announcement of the season. We weren’t able to see a lot from it, but it did look like a game inspired by Breath of the Wild and Greek mythology. Ubisoft would proceed to present us with a handful of gameplay trailers and videos showcasing what Immortals was all about, and yep, it looked even more like a Greek Breath of the Wild. Bear in mind, this is far from a bad thing. I was curious to see what other developers would be able to do in games inspired by BotW‘s open-ended gameplay and level design.
Now, before we continue, we need to talk about Breath of the Wild. We all love that game, and we were all wowed by it when it first came out, but there are things that did not age well in it. The combat did not age well. The weapon degradation is hateful. Don’t even get me started with the rain and the underwhelming dungeon design. These are things that, while far from being dealbreakers, could (and should) be fixed in its sequel, as well as other games emulating its gameplay. This is what I wanted to see the most from Immortals Fenyx Rising.
The game captivated me pretty quickly, as its setting is just amazing. Who doesn’t love Greek mythology? So many iconic gods, heroes, landscapes, monsters and stories to replicate. I wanted to see what Ubisoft would do with such a rich and diverse collection of myths, and truth be told, they knocked it out of the park. Immortals Fenyx Rising‘s sense of humor is a drier and more sarcastic take on the already dry and sarcastic Disney’s Hercules, with a touch of The Princess Bride to spice things up, as the entire story is narrated in a similar, fourth wall-breaking style, by both Zeus and Prometheus.
This game might possibly feature my favorite rendition of Zeus in any work of fiction I’ve ever seen. Instead of simply portraying him as an immaculate force of wisdom (like Disney’s Hercules) or the biggest baddie in the history of baddies (God of War), he’s a cocky, arrogant, dim-witted, oversexualized and dense buffoon, who keeps interrupting others while they speak and accuses Prometheus of spreading “fake news”. I wonder if Ubisoft took inspiration from a certain real-life figure when deciding how to portray Zeus in this game. All I know is that I loved the end result.
While Zeus is portrayed brilliantly, I cannot say I enjoyed the titular hero Fenyx’s portrayal that much. I do appreciate that Ubisoft decided to make everyone in the game speak with a strong Greek accent, which was a nice attention to detail, but Fenyx’s actor, at least in male form, sounded cheesy and amateurish. Everyone else, whether they were gods or monsters, also delivered subpar performances. The same cannot be said about the soundtrack. Gareth Coker, the man behind the phenomenal Ori and Ori 2 soundtracks, composed Immortals Fenyx Rising‘s score, and he truly delivered.
Let’s talk about the visuals. Immortals Fenyx Rising is pretty, colorful, and it runs at a rock solid 60fps at all times, with little to no loading times, but let’s face the harsh truth: this is not a very hardware demanding game when it comes to character models and geometry. I did play it on a PS5, but this is even available on the Switch of all systems. I loved the art style and the game’s pristine performance, don’t get me wrong, but this is far from being a technical showcase for what the Playstation 5 is capable of, just like most launch window cross-gen titles.
Now, the elephant in the room: you want to know if Immortals Fenyx Rising is a blatant Breath of the Wild clone or if it has enough elements to be considered its own thing. You also want to know if this is yet another open world game made by Ubisoft, another game featuring a barren world full of meandering sidequests that feel more like electronic busy work than anything else. My answer is: don’t worry, this is pretty good, albeit flawed.
Yes, the level design and exploration is pretty much identical to Breath of the Wild. After a somewhat long tutorial section, you’re thrown into a gigantic open world, where you’re free to explore whenever, wherever and however you choose, but with the overall objective of rescuing four Greek gods and earning their powers, just so you can be strong enough to defeat the mighty Titan known as Typhon. Yep, you can climb on pretty much any wall you can find. And yes, the map is littered with Shrine lookalikes, called Vaults of Tartaros in here. Hades fans will feel right at home.
But that doesn’t mean Immortals Fenyx Rising doesn’t have its own unique twists. For starters, jumping and platforming are way more important in here than in BotW, with many puzzles and overworld sections being based around platforming, double jumping, and gliding, which is great: the controls are fluid and responsive, your jumping height is quite impressive, and you can even jump and perform mid-air dodges during combat.
The combat is also quite different than BotW‘s combat, and by that I mean that it’s much better. It takes a lot of cues from Dark Souls, with similar controls (you attack with R1, lock-on with R3, and so on), a big emphasis on memorizing attack patterns, parrying, dodging, and, to my surprise, some really difficult and thought-provoking boss battles. I wasn’t expecting for such a happy and friendly game like this to feature bosses that gave me a harder time than pretty much all of the foes in Demon’s Souls, but well, here we are.
Weapon degradation is completely absent, which is a huge blessing. That doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade your weapons and your stats, though. In true Ubisoft fashion, Immortals Fenyx Rising features a crapton of collectibles, each one of them filling a specific purpose.
Ambrosia crystals can be found in certain hard-to-reach areas in the overworld, and can be traded for a health bar extension. Lightning bolts are the prizes for completing a Vault of Tartaros, and those can be used to increase your stamina meter. Coins of Charon can be obtained by completing more complex overworld puzzles, such as jigsaws or constellation-based boards, and can be used in order to purchase upgrades for your special attacks. Finally, you can collect four kinds of crystal and use them in Hephaestus’ forge in order to increase your overall strength, defense and ammo capacity. All weapons will deal the same damage; what differs one from the other is the additional perk attached to each one of them.
One thing that bogs Immortals Fenyx Rising‘s exploration down a bit, however, is the inevitable way Ubisoft treats its open world games. Whenver you reach a vantage point, you’ll notice the sheer amount of collectibles and sidequests polluting your minimap and radar. Granted, the game does allow you to turn icons off, allowing you to focus on specific sidequests or main quests at a time, but it becomes a bit tiresome after a while. The world is really well-designed, but let’s face it, this is no Hyrule. There’s no sense of wonder whenever you discover a hidden secret on your own, for instance.
I’m still impressed with Immortals Fenyx Rising, despite its fair share of issues. Ubisoft managed to craft its own homage to Breath of the Wild, with enough unique elements to make it stand out as its own thing. It’s vivid, colorful, full of puzzles to solve, with great combat and a surprisingly hilarious script. It’s yet another open world game made by Ubi, sure, but it’s still a pretty good one. Besides, who doesn’t want to explore a gigantic island full of Greek gods to befriend and monsters to slay?
It’s pretty, it’s colorful, it runs at a solid framerate at all times, but in all fairness, Immortals does not look like a next-gen game at all.
It’s a mix between Breath of the Wild, a souslike, and an action platformer. It works better than you would expect from such a weird combination of gameplay styles.
Gareth Coker’s soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal, but the same cannot be said about the voice acting, with the exception of the actors portraying Zeus and Prometheus.
Immortals Fenyx Rising takes the tiresome concept of Ubisoft open world games and injects a much needed dose of humor, fun combat, puzzles, BOTW-like exploration and appropriate amounts of challenge to become one of their best surprises in recent memory.
Final Verdict: 8.5
Immortals Fenyx Rising is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC and Switch.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of Immortals Fenyx Rising was provided by the publisher.