Have you ever played a game, watched a movie or read a book and found it so familiar to some other piece of media that at the back of your mind you’re wondering how long it will take for lawsuits to be thrown about the place?
That was me for the entire weekend as the more time I sank into Ubisoft’s latest game, the more I came to understand how inspired it is by Nintendo’s 2017 masterpiece, The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. Building up to the release of the game, a joke was thrown around that Immortals was just Breath of the Wild but with Greek gods. Turns out, it’s not really a joke because Ubisoft leans so hard in that direction that a few diehard fans of Zelda will no doubt roll their eyes and shun it for its flagrancy. It’s genuinely shocking how derivative Immortals Fenyx Rising is.
Having said that, I utterly adored Immortals Fenyx Rising and firmly believe it’s one of the best games that Ubisoft has put out in the last decade. Not only does it shake up the company’s frankly strained open-world design that has become tedious in recent years, it manages to remain consistently fun and engaging by having every action in your game matter.
That’s a difficult thing to do at the best of times and a lesson that Ubisoft has desperately needed to learn for some time now. Breath of the Wild revitalised the open-world genre by doing the same thing: Instead of dotting the world with pointless collectibles that simply ticked up some abstract percentage counter, all the items could be used to grow and improve your character in different ways. The same is true for Immortals, meaning that you’re always incentivised to explore the truly massive map on display. More on all of this in a second, but let’s first talk about why you need to be getting stronger.
The world is on the verge of ending as Typhon, a Titan of old, has broken free of his prison, turned all the mortals to stone, and has corrupted the gods who dared challenge him. Removed of their essence, the gods have been evicted from Mount Olympus, so that they may bear witness to the final days of reality. Fenyx, the sibling of a now fallen war hero, is the only human who has escaped the petrification powers of Typhon. With an assortment of godly gear and powers, Fenyx must return the gods to their former glory and become strong enough to stand against Typhon in one final battle. I know, sounds familiar doesn’t it?
The thing that truly differentiates Immortals Fenyx Rising (beyond the terrible name) from its influences is the game’s tone. Framed as tale wherein the imprisoned Prometheus tells his brother Zeus a story of the one unknown hero that can help the gods, the game’s world and characters are bubbly.
Prometheus and Zeus talk like two Greek brothers gossiping around the dinner table, poking fun at myths and legends that everyone has come to know off. Fenyx isn’t a hero, she’s a fan of the gods who has been tasked with saving them from extinction, with every line of dialogue usually offering some chuckle-worthy lines. There’s an overt sense of humour to the whole game, making the game’s narrative an absolute delight. It’s whimsical, fun, and compelling in a way that most Ubisoft games tend to not be.
In order to get stronger, you’ll need to find the items that can help. The islands Fenyx will be exploring are stuffed with helpful pick-ups, each of which can be used to upgrade some aspect the character. Ambrosia can be seen floating on hard to reach peaks that will need to be carefully scaled, Zeus’s Lightning (to upgrade your stamina, of course) can be found at the bottom of Vaults that serve like dungeons, requiring the player to best some kind of challenge.
Even around the main map, puzzles and challenges alike dot the land and will reward players with everything from weapons to Charon Coins which can be used to purchase new abilities. It’s worth reiterating that nothing in Immortals feels pointless, there’s nothing like filler content that really amounts to nothing more than ticking items off a checklist. Every detour and discovery has a tangible reward, giving the game a forward momentum that never grows old in your quest to be as powerful as possible.
Despite the game’s appearance, do not be deceived. Combat in Immortals can be a real challenge when it wants to be and you’ll be killing hundreds of monsters and undead soldiers. It’s a good thing that the combat system feels fluid and consistently fun. Fenyx has a variety of godly powers that enable them to shift the tide of battle but even then just switching between the heavy axe and light sword feels fantastic.
Hitting with your sword earns some stamina back for Fenyx while an axe hit builds the enemy’s stun bar, a genius bit of design that really incentivises players to swap between weapons rather than simply smacking away with one. Oh, and the weapons don’t degrade. What an absolute blessing.
Perhaps the only other thing I can complain about is the game’s stability. That’s unfortunately the standard of AAA game development these days; it’s rare for a massive project to ship without bugs. Unfortunately, Immortals had a few that really ruined my day. The game hard crashed on my Xbox Series S multiple times, with the worst instance robbing me of upwards of four hours of progress.
Crashes I can live with but when the autosave bugs out and kills my progress since my last manual save, that’s an entirely unacceptable problem. The game has been patched since then so I’m hoping that has fixed up some of the bugs. I’m also fairly confident I soft-locked the game’s main story when I completed a quest’s objectives in the wrong order. All I know is that an important button prompt stopped displaying and all the interactable quest puzzles were locked.
Perhaps the overly obscure, “Remember Herakles Feats” quest description meant I was missing something obvious, so take that with a pinch of salt. Either way, it’s either a problem with a glitch or the game being too vague for its own good.
And yet, that hasn’t really annoyed me. I know it’s a problem that will be fixed and in the interim, there are loads of other quests to complete. Perhaps that’s too forgiving but honestly, I could prattle on and on about this game for hours.
There’s just so much I adored about the experience that I just don’t have the space to really delve into. The gorgeous art direction is something to behold and the sheer variety of puzzles is staggering. I’ve put close to forty hours into Immortals Fenyx Rising and let me be straight with you, I started that playtime off for this review but eventually, I forgot to take notes at all.
I was just enraptured with the game, excitedly running off in a random direction to see what new item I could discover or what homage to Greek mythology was hiding away around the corner. I’ve become weary of Ubisoft’s games in recent memory but Immortals is something special. Its taken a healthy chunk of its inspirations from another game but it has sharpened those influences, injecting its own energy into the mix to make something that certainly isn’t wholly new but is just so much damn fun. I genuinely think Immortals Fenyx Rising, a game everyone has been sleeping on, is the best game Ubisoft has made in some time.
Last Updated: November 30, 2020