Mythology has always been a rich source of inspiration because of its collection of tales about heroes, monsters, and gods. Look no further than the God of War series and Hades, some of the best examples of adapting mythology in a video game in recent times. And it looks like the folks over at Ubisoft Quebec got the same idea.
This new IP had an interesting starting point. It was conceptualized during the development of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and surprisingly, while checking for bugs. Basically, the developers wanted to create a game with an enormous emphasis on the mythology aspect of Ancient Greece. As someone who liked the premise of myths and legends, it was an idea I could definitely get down with.
And so, like how Athena was born from the forehead of Zeus, from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey out came a completely new game about gods and monsters. Is it worthy of a place among the gods, or a failure to be thrown into the depth of Hades and forgotten? Let’s take the plunge and dive into Ubisoft’s Immortals Fenyx Rising, which we’ll just call Immortals from here on out.
Immortals Breath of Impact
Now to get it out of the way, the game feels very reminiscent of a certain critically acclaimed title. What, you ask? Of course, it’s Genshin Impact… alright, pitchforks down. Obviously, it’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But then again Genshin Impact too has borrowed elements from Breath of the Wild. So if you happen to have played both games, the similarities with Immortals will be very noticeable.
The developers have made it no secret that Immortals took a lot of inspiration from Nintendo’s iconic title. The massive open world where you’re free to explore and progress the story at your own pace? Check. Being able to climb nearly every surface with a stamina meter? Check. A gliding mechanic of some sort? Check. Tame wild mounts? A simpler mechanic here compared to Breath of the Wild but yes it’s there. An extensive cooking system? Actually, no. Weapons with limited durability that will break after some use? Thankfully no.
So yes, Immortals does have some familiar elements taken from Breath of the Wild, but that shouldn’t break the game. With my time with it, I saw Immortals had enough features to stand on its own that I didn’t bother nitpicking what features were taken from another game.
Rising of the Shield bearer hero
You play the role of Fenyx, a shield bearer with a knack for storytelling. With that short of a resume, he doesn’t exactly come off as hero material, but he isn’t narrating any epic stories this time as he’s going to be the lead character IN one: The quest to defeat the monster Typhon, who was imprisoned by Zeus and hell bent on revenge against him and all the other Olympian gods after being mysteriously set free.
Interestingly, Fenyx’s story is presented as a prophecy by the Titan Prometheus. With the other gods’ essences taken and thus rendering them powerless, Zeus turns to Prometheus for help and the latter foresaw that a mortal will defeat Typhon. With his disdain for mortals Zeus scoffed at the idea and so a wager was made whether or not the prophecy will come true, with Zeus agreeing to free Prometheus from his punishment should Zeus lose the bet. So instead of a flashback you’ll be playing a story that technically hasn’t happened yet at this point.
You will constantly hear Prometheus narrating his prophecy, with Zeus acting as a sort of co-narrator but he comes off more as the funny man in this comedy duo act. Zeus will often have a remark or one-liner for anything Prometheus says. Even during the loading screens where you’re given tips and hints, there’s almost always a side comment from a certain “Z.” This brings me to a rather surprising side of Immortals, wherein it has a pretty light-hearted tone that is easy to jump into and enjoy.
For a serious tale about defeating a monster who wants to kill the Olympian gods and take over all of creation, Immortals is very light and funny thanks in large part to the cast of the game. It was actually very much welcome, with some pretty mature dialogue, black comedy, and innuendos mixed in. There were even some exchanges that got me laughing out loud, not to mention the gags become funnier if you get the Greek mythology reference. The light-hearted tone is further enforced by the designs of the characters and scenery in Immortals, as they remind me of something straight out of a Pixar or Dreamworks project. Heck, it also reminds me of Fortnite.
I just wished that a certain character named was used more in moderation. Zeus is a source of some pretty funny lines in the game, but hearing him constantly make some sort of remark got tiring about a quarter into the main story. It came to a point where during every dialogue in the game, I’d just groan thinking that Zeus will likely have something to say again. I can forgive the rather thick accent Zeus (and for that matter most of the cast) has, but he simply has too much to say that it got tiring to listen to. I was just hoping that whatever Zeus said next was funny or sensible enough to excuse him butting in most of the time.
Overall, what I thought was going to be a straightforward narrative turned out to have some interesting twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, with some laughs along the way. By the time I was finished with the game I was left pretty satisfied.
This is my Olympus crew
There’s only a handful of gods that Fenyx will meet: Zeus, Hermes, Aphrodite, Hephaistos, Ares, and Athena. This isn’t a bad thing though as having more gods to save might make this game as long as Heracles’s Twelve Labors. Don’t worry though, it won’t. In fact, it may take around 40 hours to complete the game’s main campaign and that’s already taking your time, a fair length for an action RPG.
Going back to the characters, getting to know the various gods prior to returning their essences was actually some of the more humorous experiences in the game. I have to give props to the writing for its incorporation of Greek Mythology. The way you go about helping the gods was actually well written on account of how well the writers knew their Greek mythology.
For example, Ares was reduced to a coward and while questing to restore his essence, Fenyx had to remind Ares how much of a jackass he is as the God of War, and Fenyx honestly meant that as a compliment. Want a clearer example? Picture Kratos running and hiding from his enemies. That’s Ares without his essence. Unheard of right?
I also got a laugh from Aphrodite. Without her essence, she became so selfless and caring that her utter niceness drove a certain character crazy, and he practically begged for Aphrodite to be returned to her vain and selfish self. These are just some of the examples of events you’ll come across in the game and while you need not know about mythology to relate, having prior knowledge really ups the relatability.
I was expecting a straightforward meeting of powerless gods ranting about their lost powers and tasking you with restoring their essences but was instead positively surprised with unique and humorous depictions of the Greek gods. It also helped that even after their essences were restored, the gods were still entertaining to listen to when interacting with each other, like when Athena argues with Ares on who holds the title “- of war” better or Athena constantly refusing Aphrodite’s offers for a makeover.
Now the main character, Fenyx, wasn’t exactly groundbreaking or original. For starters, as far as designing your ideal Fenyx goes in the character creation, there wasn’t exactly a wide variety of choices for features. Fenyx does have some quirky moments though, like being excited over meeting the gods like a fan meeting celebrities, but overall Fenyx is your typical mold of a morally upright hero that often has doubts but will always want to do the right thing and will never give up. They’re definitely admirable traits that will make you want to cheer Fenyx on, but the character is still just average and not exactly very memorable.
Typhon was actually more interesting because of his motives. He would constantly say how the gods of Olympus are flawed and unfit to rule over mortals, and that he’s a better fit for the job because he’s perfect. While he’s not exactly leadership material either, Typhon isn’t completely wrong. Those who know their Greek Mythology would know that the gods of Olympus can sometimes be a bunch of jerks, just ask Kratos.
Overall, Immortals has a pretty colorful cast of characters though some are more memorable than others. And like Zeus, some of their accents may come off as a little thick and may feel cringey to listen to, especially Typhon. I didn’t mind though as the cast delivered their lines just how I’d expect their characters would, and so the accents felt appropriate.
Breathtaking as Greek architecture
Fenyx’s quest to find and defeat Typhon takes place on the Golden Isle. There’s also the aforementioned task of restoring each of the gods’ essences that Typhon has severed, thereby gaining their aid in the coming fight. This is by completing various quests in the game and how you go about these quests will be completely up to you. Once you finish the prologue and set foot on the main stage, the Golden Isle is your free-to-roam playground.
The Isle itself is an impressive piece of work. Not including your starting point and an area only accessible near the end, it’s a massive landscape divided into 4 diverse biomes, each representing a prominent Olympian god in the story, and scattered with a lot of the beautiful architecture and statues that Ancient Greece is known for. The scale of the entire Isle encourages a lot of exploration – from high mountains to vast fields, to amazing temples, and to enormous water wheels to name a few of the sights. The highlight of each are the massive statues of the Greek gods, with the view from the top being particularly breathtaking, and it excites the explorer within knowing the various landscapes you see aren’t just portraits, but real areas you can go to.
Each area also represents its god very faithfully, like Athena’s Grove of Kleos which is adorned with the aforementioned Greek temples and other architectural structures, as befitting of the goddess of wisdom. There’s also Ares’s War’s Den, which is exactly what you’d expect of a land belonging to the god of war with all the ruins, weapons, and armors scattered about. My favorite in particular is the Valley of Eternal Spring, with its tranquil waters and very beautiful gardens and, not surprisingly, this biome is Aphrodite’s.
Aside from taking in the sights, your time in the Golden Isle will be spent gathering resources, fighting various enemies like automatons, undead soldiers and familiar creatures of mythology like Minotaurs and Gorgons, and solving a lot of environmental puzzles and challenges. Resources you gather come in different varieties: natural bounties of the land like flowers, pomegranates, and mushrooms, as well as minerals like adamantine shards. The latter are used to upgrade your weapons and armors, while the former are needed to craft and upgrade your consumable potions. And then there’s the more mythical kinds like Charon Coins to upgrade your various skills, Ambrosia to increase your health, and Zeus’s Lightning to increase stamina.
The amount of resources to track may look overwhelming at first but it really isn’t. All you need to know is shards are for weapons and armor, and everything that comes from nature are for your potions. You won’t need to worry about choosing which specific pieces to upgrade too because the shards you collect will upgrade your weapons’ and armors’ stats as a set. For example, if you put some adamantine shards into upgrading a particular weapon type’s level, it will increase the damage across the board for all weapons of the same type.
Move like Hermes, Smash like Ares
Fenyx can use mainly 3 weapons: a sword, an axe, and a bow. While not very substantial, having only 3 weapons to use at least makes it easier to get accustomed with all of them, and you’ll soon discover which one you prefer to use more in battle. The armor system too is simplified here where you only collect armors and helmets.
Equipment can be found in various chests scattered throughout the Golden Isle or earned as quest rewards, and each one will have corresponding perks. Some samples are an armor that restores a portion of health whenever you stun an enemy, a sword that grants 30% more damage when your health is full, or a helmet that grants a 10% chance to deal triple damage. There’s enough diverse perks for different builds and what’s even great is you’re free to customize your equipment’s appearances as long as you have the visuals for it. Think of it like the layered armors and weapons in Monster Hunter World Iceborne.
Combat in the game is not exactly deep but still requires some skill. Enemies have different attack patterns and some of these are unblockable. While you may get lucky charging in and mashing away, it’s more likely to get you killed, especially if you’re surrounded. Luckily, Fenyx can parry non-unblockable attacks and also borrows a mechanic similar to Bayonetta’s Witch Time, where dodging at the last minute will temporarily slow down time for your foes for some extra hits. If you’re feeling a bit more sneaky, you can make like an assassin and deal a devastating sneak attack even before a fight starts.
Fighting smart along with using the right skills will get you far in a fight, and even if you’ve upgraded your equipment enough that you’re already dealing massive damage, enemies may still get you if you’re careless. It’s also fun to experiment with your sword and axe, whether you prefer to attack fast with the former or dish out slow but massive damage plus stuns with the latter, or a combination of both. And you can top if off with a well placed arrow shot. In short, fighting is diverse and fun here in Immortals and it rarely gets to a point where you can be careless about encounters.
Where’s the god of endurance when you need him?
Resources won’t always be out in the open for you to pick up. Charon Coins, for example, can be earned by completing puzzles and challenges scattered throughout the Golden Isle. There are a variety of them, from solving picture puzzles, to shooting an arrow through a series of hoops, to more classic formulas like moving blocks into floor buttons to unlock doors. Mostly the rewards at the end are resources, equipment, or both.
There’s also the Vaults of Tartaros, which will transport you to a different area where you will also solve more puzzles or fight gauntlets of enemies, with Zeus’s Lightning often being the prize at the end. Not to mention there are optional chests to collect and you’ll know if there’s still loot if a Vault hasn’t completely closed yet. In other words, rewards in the game will have you really work for them as you will have to exert some hefty brains and brawns. However, I have to say I wasn’t really fond of some mechanics and the frequency of challenges, especially inside certain Vaults, and here lies some of my gripes with the game.
My problem with Immortals has to be its overreliance on puzzles and challenges. It doesn’t help that the level design is tedious too. How tedious? Picture a dungeon where you have to solve similar looking puzzles and challenges in succession, around 3 to 4 times, before you get your prize. I clearly remembered a Tartaros Vault which had a central area and you have to go to four different sub-areas to solve different puzzles. The tediousness of it all was that you fight the same Vault boss every time you returned from solving a sub-area’s puzzle, albeit with one extra new attack. So the basic structure was solve puzzle -> return to central area -> fight boss -> solve puzzle -> return to central area -> fight boss -> solve puzzle -> return to central area -> fight boss again -> solve puzzle -> return to central area -> final fight boss -> finish Vault. If that felt tedious to read then that’s how I felt when I was finishing this Vault.
I personally don’t mind a challenging puzzle. I even appreciated the fact that Immortals offers little to no hints for solving them. You’re really forced to observe your surroundings and figure out the answer for yourself. My time with Souls games and Monster Hunter has instilled a rather high level of patience in me, but dungeon structures like the ones in Immortals feel very repetitive and exhausting. It was more like a chore than a fun, challenging experience.
What also didn’t help is not only are you challenged by puzzles mentally, but you also have to deal with some pretty strict physics based mechanics. The strictness of some of these puzzle conditions made them rather frustrating. It’s especially noticeable when solving puzzles involving moving blocks or round objects. It will take some time to move heavy objects for puzzles because of how slow they are, but you’ll also have to be wary that your giant heavy balls don’t roll off stage somewhere causing you to redo a puzzle from the start. There’s also those times where you have to make sure a heavy block is properly placed on a floor button switch that won’t be activated if your block is off by a bit, even if it looks like it’s not. You also can’t save, in between, so you have to get through all challenges in one go. It has to be said that the auto-save system in this game could be improved further.
On the other hand, puzzles and challenges you find throughout the Golden Isle are spread out pretty fairly, and there’s the enjoyment of riding around and taking in the sights or slaying a few monsters. So really, the gripe falls in the constant stream of repetitive puzzles and tedious level designs of certain Vaults.
It also may not be recommended to finish a mission in one sitting as it proved to be very tiring as well. Restoring a god’s essence, for example, took almost 3-4 hours. It felt like there was always a next step instead of me actually getting to finish an entire side mission. I wouldn’t mind a quest that long if it was fun, but the constant barrage of puzzles and things to do would often make me wish the quest was done already. A satisfying quest is one that doesn’t feel drawn out, and has the right amount of challenges, but it felt like the game’s idea of challenging a player is to bombard you with similar looking puzzles at nearly every turn. Again, they’re not frustrating because of the difficulty, but the frequency. It just felt really tedious that it wasn’t fun anymore. It became more like a test of endurance as if the gods themselves were testing you.
Lastly, I also have to mention that my playthrough wasn’t exactly bug free as well. The game crashed on me once, and there was a time Fenyx went through the floor and I ended up below the Golden Isle. Fortunately, I was still able to Fast Travel my way back to solid ground. While a bug like that didn’t completely ruin the experience, one frustrated me where a block I was moving in a Vault would just disappear for no reason, causing me to redo a puzzle challenge. This bug just added to souring my experience in a tedious Vault.
What we liked:
- Interesting characters and story
- Great use of Greek mythology
- Witty and humorous dialogue
- Amazing graphics
- Fun, skill-based combat
What we didn’t like:
- Overreliance on repetitive puzzles and challenges
- Tedious level designs
- Drawn out quests
- Overused gags
- Shallow character creation
Despite its cartoony appearance and gameplay inspired by other similar games, Immortals Fenyx Rising has done quite well for itself. In fact, it’s surprisingly good with the fun combat and amazing setting of an Isle with diverse areas to explore. The supporting characters were fun to watch and the dialogue was often funny to listen to. The overall story was surprising and even if the structure as a whole felt generic, it’s the twists and turns in between that I remembered long after I put down the controller. It was also great how the light-hearted tone was maintained almost throughout the game, and I particularly liked the ending.
Unfortunately, the tedious level design and constant stream of repetitive puzzles, as well as some drawn out quests made the experience less fun. I actually have a sort of love-hate relationship with Immortals. On one hand, I really love the exploration, riding through landscapes, climbing high places, fighting monsters, and finding loot around the Golden Isle and overall seeing what else it had to offer. It also helped that the Isle is a work of art in of itself with its beautiful sceneries. On the other hand, I constantly dreaded entering Vaults because I knew I was in for some tedious puzzles and challenges which weren’t testing me mentally but more like testing my endurance, leaving me more frustrated than satisfied.
I saw so much potential in Immortals Fenyx Rising being a fresh and new IP for Ubisoft, but if the level designs and this reliance on repetitive puzzles and challenges is their idea of challenging a player then it is really hard to recommend this as a full priced venture just to frustrate yourself. At a good discount or sale? This game is a very fine recommendation.
It’s a title that doesn’t deserve to be flung into Hades, but not yet exactly worthy enough of a seat among the gods. Immortals Fenyx Rising still has some rising to do to be great, but it definitely soared high enough to carve out an identity of its own and not just as a clone.