Ubisoft jumps back into Greek Mythology with the clumsily-named Immortals Fenyx Rising.
It is a terrible name for a game that deserves a much better moniker. This new third-person action game is from the people that bought us Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Apparently, it was a legal issue that made the publishers change it from the much more sensible, Gods and Monsters.
Ubisoft’s 2018’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey remains one of my favourite games. It followed Kassandra (or Alexios) on an odyssey across a very well realised Ancient Greece and beyond- to the plains of Elysium and Atlantis, itself. Odyssey is a massive game.
Even though the developers crammed Odyssey to the gills, they still had loads of material left over. So much that they had enough to make another game, and that game became Immortals Fenyx Rising.
Players take on the role of the titular Fenyx. Our hero (or heroine, the player chooses gender, etc.) has been charged by Zeus to sort out a mess caused by the banished god, Typhon.
The game is set over seven lands of the Golden Isles, all inhabited by creatures of Greek mythology. There are Minitours, Gorgons, and Cyclopean giants, all of whom would rather see Fenyx fail.
As the game progresses Fenyx unlocks more weapons tools and abilities. The first are the wings of Daedalus that allow her to traverse from the initial area into the wider world.
The game is packed with puzzles that need solving. Nothing too taxing, but some are craftier than others. Many flame-belching chasms lead to the Vaults of Tartaros. These areas are more platform-orientated challenges.
As an Assassin’s Creed fan, I found that the game had all the trapping for Ubisoft’s sci-fi/historic series. Fenyx Rising, however, is a lot lighter and more child-friendly than the heady tales of the sometimes-bloody conflict between the Templars and Assassins. The game has a look and feel akin to one of Microsoft’s Fable games crossed with the likes of the Nintendo Zelda title, Breath of the Wild, and with a dash of Fortnite.
The biggest departure from Assassin’s Creed and its protagonist’s superhuman parkour abilities is Fenyx’s stamina bar. Jumping, running, climbing, swimming, and flying all use up stamina. It’s a cheap way to keep areas off-limits that I found a bit annoying, to begin with. Unless Fenyx can find somewhere to rest halfway up the mountain, when that gauge is depleted, she’s going to let go and fall.
The combat and gear upgrades are all straight out of Assassin’s Creed, simplified to serve a younger palate. Heavy and light attacks, as well as dodges, can be performed. A perfectly timed dodge slows proceedings allow for a few extra hits. Players also obtain a very familiar archery skill that allows her to control the arrow’s direction in flight.
Fenyx is not invincible. Damage is healed by eating pomegranates that are found dotted around the landscape.
Ordinarily, I’d say that things left on the cutting room floor, should probably stay there. But in this case, Ubisoft has rather outdone themselves. Sure, it still has an echo of the formulaic gameplay and associated busy-work that Ubisoft is infamous for. But it’s genuinely a nice game. It’s polished and enjoyable with plenty to do.
The art style is a bit cartoony, but it fits the rather tongue-in-cheek narration from Prometheus and Zeus as they comment and critique Fenyx’s progress. I found the narration a bit grating, but a younger audience may not. may not.
The visuals and presentation are as you’d expect from a Ubisoft game. They are without fault. It’s a gorgeous-looking game with memorable enemies and a very well modeled protagonist. Some of the landscapes are a bit sparse (just as they are in BOTW), but this is made up for, considering you can chop down all the trees, smash all the rocks and clear all the foliage.
The game doesn’t hide its origins. No matter how you look at it, Immortals Fenyx Rising is Assassin’s Creed lite. Whilst it is a good game, the simplified mechanics compared to Assassin’s Creed will probably sit better with younger players than me.
In any case, parents with kids chomping at the bit to play the latest Assassin’s Creed game will be able to suggest that they play the rather more age-appropriate Immortals Fenyx Rising, instead.