There’s no doubt that Immortals Fenyx Rising is inspired by Nintendo’s hugely successful The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. To say otherwise would be skirting around the obvious – the similarities between Ubisoft's game and that which features an Elven-eared hero are frankly impossible to ignore.
That isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. After all, Breath of the Wild is a fantastic game, so building upon its already impressive foundations is a smart move. Fortunately, Immortals Fenyx Rising (previously known as Gods & Monsters) does more than simply riff off an existing formula.
In fact, I think it’s a game that Ubisoft should really be marketing more – it’s much more accomplished than the upcoming Watch Dogs Legion, for example, and after my two hour demo, I'm genuinely keen to play more.
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By the Gods
You play as the titular Fenyx, a red-headed mortal who can perform various godly abilities and wield exotic weaponry. It’s up to Fenyx to restore order to a fantastical world that’s been thrown into chaos by Typhon, one of the deadliest creatures in Greek mythology.
Fans of Greek mythos will recognize many of the gods and monsters that inhabit the game: you'll fight Cyclops, Medusa – the gang's all here. What I certainly didn't expect, however, was running commentary from the legendary Zeus and Prometheus. The Greek gods provide fourth wall-breaking narration as you complete various tasks, which some might find off-putting, but I found it only helped to reinforce the lighthearted feel the game is going for.
This isn’t a gritty, coming of age story like God of War, then. Immortals Fenyx Rising takes a far more comical and colorful approach to a subject matter that’s been told countless times before. However, it’s a creative decision that feels refreshing and one that will make the game more accessible to players of all ages.
Get me to the Greek
With the promise of being able to tackle the game’s story and missions however you please, I was left to traverse and explore a small part of the game’s sprawling world that features seven distinct biomes, each packed with brain-teasing puzzles to decipher and menacing monsters to defeat.
Luckily, getting around is rather enjoyable. Fenyx can sprint, glide through the air like Hermes himself (wings included), magically call a mount at a moment’s notice to ride, and scale cliff faces with consummate ease. Though you’ll be at the mercy of a stamina bar much like in Breath of the Wild, it’s easy to chomp down a few blue mushrooms mid-climb to prevent a frustrating fall to the ground below.
In the two hours I spent with the game, I was tasked with reigniting the forge of Hephaestus while beating up hulking baddies along the way. The former was a fairly straightforward affair, as I guided fire arrows into unlit furnaces and solved some basic logic puzzles.
Enemy encounters were admittedly more tricky which, in turn, made them far more engaging. You’ll need to pull off powerful special moves, parry attacks and time your dodges just right. Do so, and you’ll activate a brief window of slow motion where you can inflict extra damage. It’s a satisfying albeit familiar affair, and one that many players will find instantly intuitive. Fenyx’s flaming companion, Phosphorus, will also help you in battle, firing off smouldering attacks from above.
Upgrades people, upgrades
If you’re going to save the gods and overcome the game’s many challenges, Fenyx will need to become stronger and more proficient in both combat and traversal as time goes on. It’s fortunate, then, that the world is filled with glowing treasure chests and nearby upgrades, making the pull of the unknown a constant temptation. Fenyx is fully customizable, so the desire to seek out new armor builds and the best weapons available will likely consume many a completionist.
Various dungeons and points of interest are also scattered throughout the world, and each provides a unique challenge that makes full use of Fenyx's abilities. From activating floating platforms to avoiding sharp spike traps, I found each of the dungeons I tackled to be a rewarding experience.
Immortals Fenyx Rising may draw heavily from the well of another fine title, but there's no doubt I enjoyed my time with the game. Unlike the majority of Ubisoft's more well-known titles, which seem to focus on nailing a time period or certain locale above all us, Immortals' completely made up world means that its gameplay takes center stage. I'll be keeping my eye on this one when it's released on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, Stadia and PC December 3, 2020.
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