If you aren’t already frothing at the mouth at that spicy headline then buckle up because this review of a game that came out in December last year is going to be full of comparisons to the game everyone seems to love that I just never understood.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is Ubisofts blatent attempt at cashing in on the popularity of Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Which is ammusing because they already tried that with Assassins Creed: Odyssey. The funny thing however is that both of those games are just better than Breath of the Wild and honestly I don’t think it’s even that difficult to do that.
Summing up Immortals is frightfully easy because it really is just a carbon copy of BotW or any other open world explorative game released in the last decade. You have a big open map, a big story that takes you all over the big map, a big list of sidequests to do, a big group of enemies to fight and a big stash of fat loot at the end of it all. The difference between other Ubisoft open world games and Nintendo’s prised pony? It’s actually fun.
Being honest the main reason this review has taken so long is because it takes me a stupid amount of time to beat these kinds of games because I am a completionist by nature and I’m just not that into openworld hack’n’slash as I was. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, it’s just that a thousand and one games come out every month and my easilly distracted brain will flit from game to game like a child in a sweet shop.
The story is pretty simple, and again very similar to previous Ubisoft open worlds. You are a side-character named Fenyx and your ship has crashed upon the Golden Isles. A paradisical island built for the gods by [IT’S A SECRET] and everyone on it has been turned to stone and the gods themselves trapped with their essence stolen by the titan Typhon. You take up your sibling’s sword and decide that despite never being the hero, you have to help. So you’re not the “Hero of Time” but at least you have an actual personality.
The game actually opens with Zeus visiting Prometheus, on his mountain he was chained to, and asking him for a prophecy of how the gods would deal with the release of the dark titan Typhon. During this cutscene you immediatly get a sense for two things. The first is the games beautiful visual direction. It’s unique yet familier in that Saturday morning cartoon kind of way. The second is the games sense of humour.
I feel like this game often gets overlooked for its portrayal of Greek mythos by games such as Odyssey and Hades. When honestly I think Immortals nails it better than any game I’ve personally come across. Zeus is a HUGE arse in this game. This game will constantly mention all of the horrible things that the gods we’re trying to save did because they were either angry, horny, bored or all three. There is this wonderful naration that occasionally pops in with Zeus and Prometheus talking and Zues is happilly bragging about how he’ll shag anything that moves and let women be turned into cows so his wife doesn’t get jealous.
Speaking of naration. A lot of flack has recently been levied at Bio Mutant for its irritating and overbearing narration. Immortals nails hit, truly. It’s not so constant that it gets irritating and it’s NEVER a repeat. It is always something new, funny and well written. A lot of effort went into this game that has seemingly already been forgotten with time.
Moving onto gameplay I have to say that it just feels so GOOD to play this game. You move fluidly between enemies, dodging, ducking and parrying your way through all kinds of mythological creatures. The game also has a great sense of power creep. As you play the game you unlock new weapons and abilities. Each one changes how you engage in combat dramatically. You start with just your sword and parry ability, then you get a bow for long range, then an axe for stun damage and then there’s a whole slew of mythical abilities you get that have uses in and out of combat.
The gameplay really does have that “Play it your way” kind of vibe. I like to use the pull ability to launch myself at enemies from a distance, spin out a sword combo and then slam them with my shield dash and maybe finish them off with and then do all that again to a flying opponent just for style points. But there are multiple abilities I just don’t use but I know have merrit. You can throw baulders to do massive damage from range or use launching abilities to bring the fight to the Z axis. There’s even bullet time arrows if you want to get your ranger on.
I chose to play this game on Hard because I was wearing my big boy breeches that day and I must say this game doesn’t pull its punches. Enemies hit hard and are relentless in their desire to turn you into Fenyx paste. The fun of the game however is in that challenge. I remember in my early hours of playing the game I saw a minotaur just walking up a path. It was the first time I’d seen one and just by its sheer size and gait I knew that it was going to be a challenge. But my first reaction wasn’t “Oh crap run!” it was instead “Bring it on!” It took me maybe ten tries of dying and reloading before I actually beat the thing but it felt so good when I did.
I just want to touch on the character of Fenyx as well. For a kick off the character creation allows you to be completely non-binary in whatever way you choose. Masculine body with feminine voice, vice versa, make-up no matter the body type. That sort of thing, so props to the devs on that. The second part is I just love their dialogue. It again brings forth this Saturday morning cartoon scrappy underdog vibe.
But there are also moments of genuine sincire doubt in the character where they stop and think “I shouldn’t be the one doing this, I’m not the hero.” And instead of cutting to a fart joke they let that silence linger, that doubt is part of what makes Fenyx so great. She feels like a real person.
The main reason I want to keep playing is because I am invested in the journey Fenyx is on. Putting aside the fact that BotW was incredibly dull to play and the weapon degredation system just added to the tedium, I don’t give a flying toss about Link. You can’t try and tell a big interesting story with a silent protagonist for Zeus’ sake! I’m sorry but it didn’t work for BotW and it damn sure didn’t work for Half Life either. Sorry to all of you out there clutching your Gordon Freeman body pillows but those games sucked.
Moving back to gameplay, but still comparing the game to BotW. Do you remember the challenge dungeons in BotW? Those incredibly long and often confusing minigames with physics that barely worked and not only that you had to solve a puzzle to get into them before you could even get your ONE. SINGLE. ORB! Well there is a similar thing in Immortals which are vaults of Tartarus. They play very similarly but A) You don’t have to solve a puzzle to get in, they’re usuall just gaurded by a few mobs. B) The puzzles are straight forward without being easy and C) They actually feel rewarding.
Each vault gets you one of Zeus’ lightning which you use to up your stamina. But they also give you a piece of gear if you’re willing to do the extra mini-puzzle within the vault. They also give you a wee batch of the ingame currencies you need for upgrading your weapons on top of that.
On a similar point to the previous the game’s map is also so incredibly dense with stuff to do. You have the eagle vision from Odyssey which let’s you mark locations of interest across the map and it’s easy to see how much there is to do even from the first time you use it. So much of Hyrule felt empty and lifeless. Sure there were enemies around sometimes but the game actively encouraged you not to get into random fights because your weapons would snap in half after three hits and the combat in BotW was just so incredibly boring.
The map in Immortals manages to feel vast, easy to travers to the point where you don’t feel like you NEED to use fast travel and also with plenty to do and fight without compromising on anything.
Now, there is one big fat negative to Immortals that needs to be addressed. The game does include micro-transactions. This game, if you choose, can be pay to win. You can buy better gear and more experience if you so choose but the benefit is the game never encourages you to spend. Besides that they actually give weekly challenges that reward you with the premium currency if you simply want to earn those benefits.
Overall this game is an absolute blast to play, especially in this early year draught of anything interesting to play. I fully recommend it if you like open world games or just need a good and compelling story that isn’t just brown depression and needless self aggrandising. Sorry Last of Us Part 2.