Rarely does a game come along that pulls so many threads together, while still managing to create a rich and unique experience all of its own. Immortals Fenyx Rising does so, creating a rich game world that begs to be explored, with a tongue in cheek sense of humour that means it never feels like it takes itself to seriously.
Playing as the titular Fenyx, Immortals Fenyx Rising has you begin the game as a lowly powered mortal, but it wastes no time in sorting you out with a range of gear and powerful abilities. Waking up on a beach and heading off in search of your brother, the game quickly shifts its focus to that of defeating Typhon, a titan from Greek Mythology who had been imprisoned by Zeus millennia before. The game is constantly narrated by Prometheus and Zeus, who are discussing the games overarching narrative while feeding you further information such as clues as to what to do next or filling you in on the mythology and characters you meet on the way. It’s a new take on world-building and lore craft, but it never feels intrusive as it pops up at various intervals while you play, and having an interest in mythology I was keen to try and spot the various nods and Easter Eggs to the various myths that litter the landscape before the game could explicitly point them out.
Immortals Fenyx Rising’s map is huge – which is par for the course for most Ubisoft titles these days. Unlike other open-world games, much of the landscape can be viewed from the beginning, which only serves to tease you as to areas you have to look forward to exploring. As with most games in this genre, certain areas are cut off, either by having enemies that are way too tough or places that are just out of reach with your current abilities, but an impressive chunk of the map is available to explore from the get-go.
This feeds into one of the core mechanics used in Immortals Fenyx Rising, aptly named Far Sight. Far Sight is the ability to view things from afar (catchy isn’t it?), identifying them with R2 which instantly pins their location to the game’s map. I found myself using this ability as often as possible to try and identify as much as I could, locking in new areas and places to set off and have a good nosey about. No sooner would I reach a new destination than I would activate Far Sight again, spot some new areas to go and check out, and then begin the whole process once more.
If you are anything like me you will enjoy this constant loop – when it comes to open-world games, I rarely stick to the games main missions (who does??). Instead, I prefer heading off the beaten path, trying to look for as many hidden treasures and secrets as I can, and Immortals Fenyx Rising nails this loop. I was constantly setting off to do one thing before quickly getting distracted by something else, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed, particularly during the games initial few hours. Handily there is a pin system which allows you to stick up to 6 custom pins in the map, each a different colour that is then displayed in the compass visible from the HUD, which makes it much easier to stick to one objective or destination.
Foregoing a serious art direction, Immortals uses a comic art style that exaggerates proportions and features, which works in the context of the world Ubisoft has created. bumping into a Minotaur or a Cyclops while off exploring doesn’t feel silly or strange, it just works. Using Far Sight while stood atop some mountain or statue I could zoom off into the distance, looking for glows or flashes which are often the telltale of some treasure or secret, and this would be hard to imagine if the world was some photo-realistic interpretation.
Combat in Immortals Fenyx Rising is simple yet satisfying. Fenyx has a sword, axe and bow at his disposal, and each can be used to vanquish the many foes you will face. R1is your quick attack using your sword, while R2 is your heavy attack with the axe. Both are satisfying to wield, and mixing them up is the key to success. Each enemy has both a health bar and a stagger bar, and while both attacks drain health, only the axe does much to fill the stagger bar. Stagger an enemy and they become dazed, allowing you to unleash some quick attacks before they recover and come at you again. Such a combat system is nothing new, but again, it works so why fix it? Throw in the various abilities that Fenyx can unlock and upgrade, and combat quickly evolves into something lethal and satisfying.
Puzzle-solving is the third and final piece completing Immortals Fenyx Rising’s TriForce. In fact, I would go so far as to say solving puzzles is pretty much the key mechanic – it would be nigh impossible to spend half an hour with Immortals and not have to solve one puzzle. This could be as simple as placing a rock on a switch to open a door, or a bit more intense such as the constellation puzzles that have you searching a huge area for blue orbs that then have to be placed in a set configuration on the floor. The variety of puzzles in Immortals Fenyx Rising is impressive, all offering a variety of gear and rewards to make them worth your while.
One of the games key puzzles is the dozens of Vaults that can be found scattered across the landscape. These glowing red craters can be found using Far Sight, and once jumped into transport you to a large dungeon that will put your abilities and skills to the test. Each Vault is often built around a key ability or skill, mixing up both platforming and problem-solving with equal measure. Playing these dungeons is crucial to progress, as each one rewards you with Zeus’s Lighting – a literal bolt of lighting that can be used to upgrade your Stamina. As Stamina is a vital attribute, used every time you run, climb, swim or fly, completing each Vault becomes a key objective, as the more Lighting you have means you can upgrade your Stamina, and the more Stamina you have means you can explore more of the map, climbing higher or flying further. These Vaults are heavily inspired by Zelda – A Breath of the Wild, but they say imitation is the highest form of flattery after all.
Alongside your Stamina, pretty much every other aspect of your character can be upgraded and made stronger. Your weapons and armour, your health, your abilities – all can be upgraded using a variety of items found on your travels, either by collecting them out in the wild or by solving the hundreds of puzzles that can be found in the ruins and hidden away at various points. See something that looks a little out of place? Chances are it is some form of a puzzle waiting for a solution, and if you haven’t already it is worth using Far Sight to have a look around and seeing if there are any chests hidden nearby. This cannot be overstressed, as while some of the puzzles are obvious, some can be downright devious to the point that they can be easily overlooked – I’m thinking of one particular puzzle I encountered not far into my playthrough that had me place cabbages at an alter, something I only did because decades of playing video games have taught me that often it is something as mundane as this that gets rewarded.
Immortals Fenyx Rising has been released at what is one of the busiest times of the year when it comes to video games, but its mix of exploration, puzzle-solving and combat is a joy to play, and its abundance of puzzles and collectables is sure to keep you busy for days – and that’s just the main quests. Taking numerous elements from various games, Immortals combines each one into an experience that feels and plays as something new yet comfortingly familiar, and let’s be honest, after the year we have all had, isn’t that something we all need right now?
Immortal Fenyx Rising
Immortals Fenyx Rising plays like a family-friendly Assassin’s Creed, mixing together combat, exploration and puzzle-solving to create an entertaining tale that uses Greek Mythology as its backdrop. If you’re looking for a huge open-world experience with plenty of crafty puzzles and collectables to keep you busy over the Christmas period, Immortals Fenyx Rising has it all and it’s definitely worth a look.
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Reviewed using PS5.