The final release of Ubisoft this year was a game based on new intellectual property, suspiciously reminiscent of both modern Assassin’s Creed and the latest Zelda. Whether Immortals Fenyx Rising has anything to offer besides ideas borrowed from other games and a strange name, we’ll tell you in the review.
The resounding success of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild could not fail to make major publishers want to do something similar to it. It is unlikely that the process of creating Immortals Fenyx Rising began with the words “We need a Zelda clone!” from the mouth of the CEO of Ubisoft, but the source of Ubisoft Quebec’s inspiration quickly becomes apparent. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that – as Picasso said, “good artists copy, and great artists steal.” Here, too, there are elements that have been written off exactly as well as the usual components for Ubisoft games.
Immortals Fenyx Rising was created by the same team that worked on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey . Since the team has already touched on the history of Ancient Greece, it is logical to do something about ancient Greek mythology. We take on the role of Fenyx, a mere mortal who ends up on the Golden Island, sees petrified statues around her instead of living people and quickly realizes that she needs to save the world.
The monster Typhon, once imprisoned by Zeus under the ground, broke free and is ready to destroy all the gods. We need to help four of them – Ares, Hephaestus, Aphrodite and Athena, and then receive their blessings, become stronger and give Typhon a run for his money. The monster deprived the gods of their powers: he turned Athena into a little girl, and Ares into a rooster. Fortunately, Fenyx at the very beginning of the game receives a “starting set of the savior of Olympus”: a sword, an ax, some kind of armor, and most importantly – wings that allow him to soar above the ground after jumping.
As you might have guessed from the trailers, Immortals tries to take themselves not too seriously. The story of Phoenix is presented in the form of a story, which is read to Zeus by Prometheus chained to a rock, so that behind the scenes both of them often comment on what is happening and joke from time to time. The humor is solid, the actors are not annoying, the feeling of awkwardness and shame for the narrators does not arise, and the jokes are often based on ancient Greek myths – if you have not gone deep into these topics before, you can even learn something new here. Plus, throughout the game, the idea is expressed that you should not be ashamed of your shortcomings and ideal people (gods) do not exist – not so much moral, but still.
The gameplay is also perceived positively in most cases, but it’s worth saying that the basis of the gameplay is not very similar to Zelda. In Breath of the Wild, the player regularly feels like a discoverer – you look at an object from afar or from above, you approach it and you will definitely find something interesting there. In Immortals, you will hardly find something valuable, and it is not so convenient to do it – here you almost immediately get the opportunity to use distant vision (read: binoculars) and use the sight in the center of the screen to find new places. I hit a plateau, turned on my vision, scanned everything around, found five or ten icons without making any effort, and went on.
Most likely, the authors didn’t have the time to make a well thought out map to make any object feel interesting – Breath of The Wild, released in 2017, began development back in 2011. In addition, for Ubisoft, this is also a completely new series, and not the legendary “Zelda”, which everyone knows already, so you can’t count on big sales. But Immortals does have a fun world to explore, even without the many the hundreds of interesting points to discover.
The Golden Island offers entertainment at every step: offering plenty of puzzels and riddles for you to solve. The game also just doesn’t shove hints at your face all the time. You really have think through how you will interact with something, get to a certain point or push blocks in the right order. Even at the lowest difficulty there isn’t much handholding, and that really seems like a plus to us.
There is especially a lot of variety in the dungeons of Tartarus, where interesting finds are found one after another. It can be a small series of puzzles of increasing difficulty, or one big puzzle, consisting of several small ones – the latter is usually found in story-driven dungeons. There you find yourself in situations that do not exist in the open world. In one instance, you work with large cubes that fly off the ground when you first hit them and fall when you hit them the second time. In the other, you see cubes connected to each other – grabbing one, you move the other, regardless of its weight, and you can make double jumps.
It is a pity that some puzzles seem to be drawn-out due to the large number of platforms, the slow movement of the hero when carrying objects, or the need to perform too many actions. In one of the examples, you need to roll two balls from one end of the location to the other through simple mazes, but some of their parts are destroyed – you need to find cubes and fill in the gaps. It’s hard to call it a riddle, since the solution is obvious, and that’s why it’s boring to do it all: running back and forth, summoning new balls when old ones fall, lifting cubes and slowly moving towards bridges – at such moments the game simply doesn’t respect your time.
Fortunately, there are not many such tedious tasks. In most cases, you are happy to be distracted from the main plot and start “cleaning” the icons on the map. One of the main features borrowed from Zelda is its limited stamina, which dries up when running fast, climbing rocks and flying. Therefore, at first, it is difficult to climb high mountains – but in the end there are equipment items that give bonuses to characteristics, all kinds of resources and ingredients to improve items in the inventory.
Immortals offers flexible character customization and does not punish for “wrong” leveling. Here you improve not one specific sword or a separate helmet, but the whole category as a whole, that is, the equipment itself does not have indicators of defense and attack. This allows you to experiment on the fly with all your junk in your inventory: one sword increases damage at full health, the other restores stamina when making a combo in the air; with one breastplate sometimes you get bonus ingredients, with another you can shoot a bow faster or increase your defense against unique enemies …
The combat system seems simple at first, but after gaining new skills, it becomes better and better. Fenyx has two types of blows: weak hits with a sword, and strong ones – with an ax. Heavy swings also hit the opponent’s stamina – when the scale runs out, the enemy will temporarily become immobilized. This is especially useful in fights with bosses, among which there are cyclops, and gorgons, and harpies, etc… . Later, passing tests and buying new skills for Charon’s coins, you learn to be attracted to flying opponents, make a quick dash towards enemies, call a bird to interrupt opponents’ attacks, and much more. At times, all these colorful combos and slowdowns even make you remember games like Devil May Cry.
The main problem with Immortals Fenyx Rising is the lack of any new ideas. It borrows a lot from both other Ubisoft games and well-known releases from other studios, wraps it up in a funny story based on the myths and legends of Ancient Greece, but offers almost nothing new. The list of advantages still far outweighs a handful of disadvantages, but it’s difficult to call Immortals the best Ubisoft release this year.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is a playful and comically game around Greek mythology and offers plenty of fun hours to discover and level up your character, although it does perhaps lack some own original ideas that aren’t from past Ubisoft or other titles they could have put in the mix.