Immortals Fenyx Rising is Ubisoft’s last big release this year, and is out now for all major platforms, including the Switch. It was released without too much fanfare, but was that to lower our expectations? Looking at how much fun we had with the game, we don’t think so.
Fenyx Rising certainly didn’t have the PR lead-up that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla had, but there are quite a few parallels between this new game, the Assassin’s Creed Series, Tomb Raider, God of War and Zelda – as Immortals feels like a mashup of those titles. Greek mythology plays a large role, as it does in God of War and to a lesser extent one of the Assassin’s Creed titles. The art style and general feel is much more family-friendly, evoking memories of Zelda, and you’ve got puzzle-filled temples to explore as if you’re Lara Croft herself.
Many of those elements aren’t exclusive to the titles mentioned, but it gives you a good idea that Immortals Fenyx Rising isn’t the most original game out there as the moment. It’s a new IP though, and one that works. Playing out like an open world action adventure, it’s smaller in scope than Assassin’s Creed both in terms of campaign length and the size of the game world. Combat and character progression are also somewhat simplified, but for anyone overwhelmed with the size of some of the recent releases this is a hardly a negative and more of a welcome change of pace.
The most unique ability you have as protagonist Fenyx comes from your wings, which let you briefly fly and glide in the air. While there’s an obvious use for that in getting to places you otherwise can’t reach, it also factors in combat, which is a lot of fun to play as you have aerial attacks at your disposal and can also quickly change positions by briefly taking to the skies. Your stamina level determines how far you can fly, but this can be upgraded over time to give you access to new areas – the same applies to your ability to climb walls, by the way. Run out of stamina and you can fall to your death, so there’s an incentive there to upgrade.
This also helps you to tackle those vaults that reminded me of Tomb Raider – confined areas where you can solve puzzles and/or overcome (combat) challenges in hopes of getting a reward. There isn’t any kind of expansive skill tree to help you develop over time, and although the experience is at risk of feeling stale later on in the campaign it’s worth pointing out that the core controls and mechanics work very well – both for combat and exploration/traversal. Dashing, going airborne and then striking at an enemy is a fresh experience that retains its appeal for much of the story, as you chisel away at a large enemy’s health bar with light attacks or try and stagger them with more powerful moves.
There’s a decent amount of diversity in the game’s puzzles as well, though many are quite basic in nature in terms of how they challenge your aptitude for logical thinking. In some cases aiming (when throwing) can be needlessly imprecise though, which is an area where the game needs some kind of auto-aim function to make sure you’re tackling the puzzle and not the controls.
The narrative, though epic on the surface (you’re tasked with the mission to save the Greek gods from the mighty titan Typhon), it’s told in a very lighthearted manner – with Zeus and Prometheus serving as narrators. Rather than following the serious and dark tone of the God of War games, the duo loves to joke around – sometimes with awful jokes that seem atypical in terms of how we usually see them being portrayed. For an exploration of Greek mythology you’d be much better off with other games, but after we got used to this different kind of tone we had a lot of fun with Immortals’ story approach.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is one of the first games to be released on every platform from the Switch to the new next gen systems, but visually it falls behind the likes of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla by quite some margin. It’s still an attractive game, especially on current gen system, and if it runs well on the Switch it would certainly be a showcase title for the platform. For us, playing it on a PlayStation 4 Pro, it was most akin to playing a Zelda-game on a Sony platform, which certainly isn’t half bad. Performance was good, and the art style is bright and colorful – again, a departure from the usual “Greek mythology approach” in videogames.
It’s not the most original game out there, but it’s an idea well executed and provides an enjoyable 15 to 20 hour campaign.