Review: Immortals: Fenyx Rising – Ubisoft is a publisher that focuses a lot on existing (successful) franchises, but at the same time they are absolutely not averse to trying something new. Hyper Scape, for example, already proved this earlier this year and Roller Champions is a good example of this. The developer and publisher dares to do new things and a title that also falls under this is Immortals: Fenyx Rising. A brand new game that takes hold of Greek mythology and gives it its own twist. The result is a game that takes well-known elements from other Ubisoft titles, takes it from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and gives it its own twist. Something that works out well, because this is a more than successful game.
Help the gods
The Land of the Gods is no longer what it once was, as Typhon has escaped from his lair where he was trapped. As a result, the land of the gods has been overrun by demonic scum, and the gods who first quietly did their thing there have been transformed by Typhon into creatures with rather limited capabilities. This is of course not a good thing and while Zeus is talking to Prometheus, the story of Fenyx comes up. The young protagonist of this game, who ends up in the land of the gods after being shipwrecked by a storm. According to Prometheus, Fenyx is the ideal person to help the gods, whereas Zeus is rather joking about it.
Phenyx is a mortal and in his eyes they do not add much to the world‘s population. In fact, the children of Zeus also laugh about it and state that people are especially useful for the gifts they often receive, which are of course sacrifices. But that aside, what follows is an adventure in which Fenyx does everything he can to restore order to the haunted land and under the watchful eye of the gods, Hermes and of course Typhon, who tries everything to stop Fenyx. The story thus takes you from one corner of the map to another and that to do all kinds of chores that will eventually bring you closer to your goal.
That the gods are rather arrogant is completely unjustified, because it is Fenyx who helps them where they are very limited in their resources. Gradually the gods will appreciate Fenyx and then it soon becomes apparent that the gods are no better than humans in terms of emotions and actions. This repeatedly results in bizarre and entertaining conversations in the game, because apart from a serious goal, the game takes that anything but itself. Zeus refers to the internet in his conversations, another god talks about conversations with his therapist and they verbally burn each other off with some regularity.
A unique vibe
As a result of the conversations, Immortals: Fenyx Rising makes no sense at all in a way, but that’s the power of the game. The humor is quite strong and although you will never roll over the floor laughing, it makes for good entertainment. It’s completely nonsensical at times, and the way the gods behave is just plain good entertainment. Especially when Fenyx plays an increasingly important role in those conversations and teaches the gods a lesson or two. This creates a fairly unique vibe, because the Greek mythology is often a bit melancholic in theme.
In this game the opposite is the case and that feels very fresh, thanks to the aforementioned fine vibe that has a certain appeal. Ubisoft has clearly found the sweet spot for the atmosphere and that does the game a lot of good. But that’s not the only thing the game does well, because the voice acting is of good quality, which makes the conversations believable throughout the game in the sometimes nonsensical way that the game presents you. It is delivered well and the same applies to the audio, which is nowhere very special but mainly does what it should do. That together with a soundtrack that quickly becomes very recognizable thanks to the typical tunes that fit well with the whole.
A lust for the eye
Graphically Immortals: Fenyx Rising is really a feast for the eyes, because the world you visit looks beautiful. In one area it is beautiful greenish and in the other area it is all a bit grayer and withered. There is also no lack of snowy environments, which means that all seasons are included in the game, as it were. This provides enough variety and the style of the game is very reminiscent of a title like Rime with visual effects that are somewhat reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The style is therefore not unique, but it fits perfectly with the character of Immortals: Fenyx Rising. The somewhat cartoony interpretation creates beautiful environments that you will really enjoy and that makes exploring the world a pleasure.
You have two options here, so you can play the game at a high resolution with all the graphic bells and whistles, which provides just a little more sharpness. The frame rate is fixed at 30 frames per second and although that is fine for this adventure, it must be said that playing the game at 60 frames per second provides that better experience. Somewhat obvious, because that is of course quickly the result with a higher frame rate. In the so-called Quality mode – in 4K – you can enjoy more detailed characters and environments and the draw distance is also slightly higher. Still, we noticed while playing that the game offers a better experience in Performance mode, because the experience in Quality mode is less due to stutters. In addition, the graphical difference is relatively small, apart from the aforementioned matters, which makes the Performance mode our preference.
Platforms in a classic way
Now that we’ve got all those things out of the way, it is of course important to also take a look at the gameplay, because that is the main foundation on which this entertaining adventure is built. The gameplay borrows many elements from the aforementioned titles and also plays a little bit of borrowing from Assassin’s Creed, for example. Primarily when it comes to gameplay in general, but what sets Immortals: Fenyx Rising apart is the fine mix of exploration, combat and puzzle solving. The world is very inviting to be explored, which can always bring you something in terms of resources to upgrade Fenyx at various points.
These can be simple – yes – sliding puzzles, but also recreate certain constellations with specific orbs, which you can obtain by puzzling. In addition, there are various ‘safes’, which is in fact a kind of portal to the underworld where you always get different platform puzzles for you. This ranges from sliding large boxes to activate all switches to rolling a ball around to open a certain passage. Even a pinball machine passes by and all this makes for plenty of variation. You never know what to expect and Ubisoft has gone crazy in terms of creativity.
Standard platforming forms the basis here and what is added are elements such as flying, shooting with your bow, fights in between, playing with gravity, and so on. It is too much to mention and as you progress, different puzzle elements are combined with each other for even more variation and of course the challenge. This also ensures that you dive back into the game after completing the story to discover even more, because there is plenty to find and experience. The gameplay is quite traditional despite all these elements, but what makes it so strong is the combination and variety.
In that sense, the fights are the most repetitive, because apart from the fact that you have magical attacks and additional features at your disposal, it mainly comes down to killing everyone. This may have a somewhat negative undertone, but don’t worry. Within the bigger picture it provides just that little bit of extra challenge and above all, it brings variation in the puzzling and additional climbing and scrambling work. Finally, the game is still quite full of specific challenges and all that together ensures a playing time that quickly tends towards 30 hours, if not more.
Overall, we are quite pleased with Immortals: Fenyx Rising and that is because it feels mainly like a refreshing and light experience. Yet there are still some small points that need some attention or that we are less satisfied with. As already mentioned, the Quality mode has to do with light stutters, albeit minimal, but because of this we prefer the Performance mode. More annoying, however, is that Fenyx has a weird tendency to really stick to everything. If you walk close to a wall or object, Fenyx jumps as if attracted by a magnet and then starts climbing. This while you don’t want that at all. It’s not a deal breaker, but it can be very annoying in some situations where timing is important. We already noticed this in the preview sessions and nothing has changed.
Furthermore, the game felt a bit stretched towards the end, which made it take a while where it could have been smoother, but that is mainly a personal thing. And finally, we have to mention the adaptive triggers. These are used in the game for archery, but the timing at which the triggers start working is instinctively incorrect, making it feel more annoying than an added value. We also occasionally hear that the haptic feedback wants to do something, but does not get around to it and it sounds like something in the controller is scratching against the housing.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising has to be one of the surprises of this year. At least, the surprise for us was sometime this summer when we played the game for the first time and it’s nice to see that the good impression of that time is now being lived up to with a fun adventure. It is something new in the Ubisoft portfolio and we had a great time with it. The gameplay is varied enough to keep you fascinating and especially the variation in puzzles excels. The humor is sharp and works perfectly in the context of the game, which hits the right note thanks to the overall vibe and beautiful graphic style. Moreover, the adventure is for young and old, which makes it a must. It is one of the last games of 2020 and if it was not on your list yet, you can add it now. It is worth experiencing as you are guaranteed to enjoy yourself.
- Superb style and play world
- Varied puzzles and challenges
- Decent voice acting
- Very smooth experience in Performance mode
- Great alternation between exploration – puzzling and combat
- Fenyx that sticks to everything
- Towards the end somewhat tedious
- Stutters in Quality modus
- DualSense feedback is not working properly