Ubisoft are back with their third release in just a few weeks and this time it is a brand new IP – Immortals Fenyx Rising that aims to reach a younger audience but also appeal to adults through combining the best of Ubisoft’s previous games with a Zelda-like adventure. Sounds like a match made in heaven right? Let’s find out.
Immortals Fenyx Rising was quite a surprise for me as a reviewer. Going in, I didn’t have high hopes. I saw the game’s marketing that leant a bit too much on ‘It is like Breath of the Wild” and prematurely wrote the game off but after playing the prologue I was pleasantly surprised. Immortals Fenyx Rising is aimed at 12-18 year olds whereas Ubisoft’s recent titles have all been 18+ so it absolutely makes sense to take what worked in those games and bring it to a younger audience.
Immortals Fenyx Rising tells the story of Fenyx, a young Greek shield bearer who lands upon the Golden Isle – who lands upon the island thanks to a shipwreck to find it over-run with monsters thanks to Typhon. Typhon is the game’s main enemy who has taken the essences of several of the Gods of Greek mythology and corrupted the island with monsters of all types. You soon meet Hermes (herald of the Gods) and team up to restore the Gods’ powers and defeat Typhon. Sounds familiar right? You’d be forgiven for thinking so but what really makes a difference here is how the story itself is told. While you play as Fenyx, the game is actually narrated by Zeus and Prometheus who are one of the best things about the game. Prometheus uses his power of foresight to tell the story of Fenyx and through that you hear them bicker back and forth. Their dialogue is genuinely very entertaining and keeps you engaged. I also really appreciated the theme about how each god (and Fenyx themself) had their flaws and how overcoming them helped recover what made them great. I think for the audience that the game is aimed at, it really is a great thing.
The game itself is frankly, great. Every mechanic is well done, well refined and blends well together. From gliding across the island’s distinct worlds, landing behind an enemy to sneak attack and building into an 80 hit combo – the game never misses a beat. I played the game on the Xbox Series X (where it looked stunning) but we hear the game runs just as well and impressively on other platforms, even the Switch. The game’s puzzle rooms (aka vaults) have some head scratching puzzles at points and do offer some replayability with gear available if you can find or reach it. They’re the perfect blend of puzzling, frustrating and rewarding when you’ve solved it. There’s also an endless amount of collectables to find and additional challenges. Combat is smooth and well developed with a health and stamina bar you can target, when you drain an enemy of stamina they’re down for about 10 seconds so you can lay into them with combos. It combines well with your own god powers which use up your own stamina and recharge through light attacks or potions. Combat is really well balanced and on harder difficulties and offers a great challenge, even to more seasoned players.
If I was to nit-pick, Immortals Fenyx Rising probably copies just a bit too much from Breath of the Wild game and if you had told me this was a spin off from the series, I would have believed you. From stamina bars, to challenge rooms, potions to upgrade mechanics – they are near carbon copies of things that worked in Breath of the Wild. While they work here too, it does leave you with a sense of deja vu. The game also doesn’t copy quite enough from Ubisoft’s other titles. Stealth felt clunky (despite sharing the same developer as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey) and the worlds felt empty of other people – a stark change to Watch Dogs Legion bustling game world. More NPCs (non-playable characters) around the world would have helped flesh out the story and made the world feel a bit more alive.
The game also reveals most of the puzzle, enemy and combat mechanics very early on. The game gives quite a lot of freedom to tackle the game in the way you want but the downside to this is towards the end, it can start to chug quite a bit with little new abilities or mechanics to try. Immortals Fenyx Rising manages to combine overly familiar mechanics with some genuinely funny and well written dialogue that keeps you entertained for 20+ hours. I do think that next time out, Ubisoft could build on this great foundation with some solid innovations that doesn’t make you feel you’re playing a pastiche of another game.
Based on what I played, in a first, I have multiple recommendations for you on whether and when you should pick this game up:
- If you (or your child) hasn’t played Breath of the Wild – Go play Breath of the Wild First and then if you loved it (and we think you will) – pick up Immortals Fenix Rising.
- Did your child love Breath of the Wild? Immortals Fenyx Rising will give them hours more of the same and keep them well entertained over the break – a great title to tide them over until the next Zelda title.
- If you’re an adult and you’ve played Breath of the Wild like I have, I’d probably prioritise other releases first this Winter. With Watch Dogs Legion and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – these are two amazing Ubisoft titles that deserve to be checked out first. You’ve also got the likes of Spider-Man Miles Morales and Cyberpunk 2077 this week too. Next year, when you clear a bit of your backlog then Immortals Fenyx Rising will be the perfect fun palette cleanser. Immortals Fenyx Rising simply doesn’t do enough ‘new’ things or add much to the genre to deserve a higher place on your playlist.
In any case, Immortals Fenyx Rising is still a good game that deserves a play at some point but I can’t help but be excited for a sequel to see what Ubisoft can really do.
Immortals Fenyx Rising was reviewed on Xbox Series X with a code provided by Ubisoft UK & Ireland.