Apart from Hyper Scape, Ubisoft has not released a new IP in a while. For a few years now, the developer has been riding its current franchise wave by releasing new Assassin’s Creed games, Watch Dogs, and even The Division. While these games are great, we know Ubisoft for their fantastic open-world games and it was about time they tried something new. Immortals: Fenyx Rising was a risk. Not only does it mark the developer’s third game release in the space of two months but it arrives smack bang in the middle of one of the busiest gaming seasons in years.
Thankfully, the risk paid off. Immortals: Fenyx Rising is a gem and one of my favourite games of 2020. It is a magical experience set in a breathtaking open world filled with countless things to do and see. Every new region challenged me with new puzzles, enemies to slay and gear to collect. The captivating story manages to carry the game through even some of its most tedious moments thanks to the excellent comedy and writing.
If you have not guessed by watching trailers and looking at screenshots, Immortals: Fenyx Rising is based in mythological Greece. I know what you are thinking “another game about Zeus and all those temperamental Gods”. I get you. The Greek thing is tired now. However, that does not mean there isn’t a great story to enjoy here. You take on the role of Fenyx who is a mortal stuck on an island where the Greek Gods rule. After waking up on a beach, you discover that Typhon has broken free from his prison in the underworld. Of course, like any other angry god who was trapped away for centuries, he wants revenge and to rule over the lands and his tyranny has already begun.
This is where Fenyx comes in. There are four gods that live around the island. They are but a shell of their former selves. Each god has lost its “essence” and has turned into completely different beings. I won’t spoil what they each have become but the main idea is that Fenxy needs to recover their essence and recruit them to fight against Typhon. This set me off on a grand adventure to discover the lands which are covered in lore, enemies, gear, puzzles and so much more.
Right from the start, Immortals: Fenyx Rising puts a great emphasis on “freedom”. I could tackle any one of the four gods and their questlines at any time. I could go anywhere I wanted, equip any gear I found and slay the beasts that roam the land using a range of combat styles. While this may sound overwhelming at first, that is not the case. You see, instead of the game handing you dozens of quests that litter the map with icons, Immortals: Fenyx Rising takes things slowly. As I explored the world, met the gods and completed their quest lines, everything in-between was simply extra things to do. Sure, there was an odd quest that popped up but I never once felt overwhelmed by the sheer list of objectives.
Instead, the process is simple. The game makes you climb to the top of a God’s statue and you then get the lay of the land. Holding down the R3 button activated a scout vision where I could look into the distance and discover puzzles, rifts, chests and other side activities to complete. It even highlights the materials needed to upgrade your health bar. I loved this scout vision. Instead of going around the map trying to find everything, it put it all into perspective and gave my trip to the next quest direction.
This meant that while I was on the way to slay the Hydra for Athena, I had icons on my compass that pointed to nearby locations and items I pinpointed while scouting the area. Every region is packed with a decent number of these activities. Puzzle pieces that I had to move around in order to make up an image. Musical lyre sequences I filmed on my phone which I then had to replicate at a Big Lyre to get coins. Not to mention the various chests which are either guarded by enemies that have to be slain in order to open the box. In addition, puzzles need to be solved to unlock certain chests too.
These puzzles were always fun to complete. Much of the game relies on weight pad switches on the floor. The main idea here is that different pads need different weighted objects placed on top in order to trigger them. I could either hold them in the air using Hermes Gauntlets or simply pick them up with my hands. Often, I had to control an arrow through a gate to set it on fire and then trigger the switch by lighting a brazier. Honestly, these puzzles never felt the same even near the end of the game. At one stage I was even carrying cabbages around and putting them down as an “offering” to a god so I could grab a chest of materials. It makes exploring the world and completing these side objective fun and worthwhile.
It also helps that Fenyx has a range of abilities including wings that can be used for a double jump and gliding, arrows that help for target shooting, an axe for those hard-hitting boulders and a fast sprint. All of these abilities are constantly being put to the test with these awesome world challenges. Be it a long sprint challenge that tasked me to get to the finish line before the timer ran out or a bow challenge that had me controlling an arrow around an island while swerving through rings and managing my stamina bar.
We then have Rifts which are massive holes in the ground that lead to Tartarus. Every Rift delivered a specialized challenge themed around a specific puzzle or Godly Power. Be it a target practice challenge or wave-based arena where I had to slay tough enemies to get through to the end. Rifts are also great ways to obtain Zeus’ lightning which is needed to upgrade stamina. There’s also a range of gear chests that can hold special new weapons and armour. These Rift also follow the same fun approach as the open-world activities. Every one I jumped in, had something new to experience which made the trip enjoyable. There are also tougher story-based rifts that take a good thirty minutes to get through and challenged not only my combat abilities but also my mind as the puzzles are not always easy to solve.
Combat makes up a massive chunk of Immortals: Fenyx Rising. It starts off repetitive as combos and abilities are limited. However, about five hours in, I managed to find my own footing by focusing on a specific build and levelling up skills and unlocking abilities that complement it. I went with an axe build that dealt more damage while airborne. I found a “Vulture” armour set that buffed airborne attacks. The chest piece gave me 140% extra stamina recharge while in mid-air and the helmet granted a 24% damage buff while in mid-air. I then found the Tempest Axe that gave a 28% chance at triple damage while performing an axe air combo. So I would just jump and spam R2 to perform combos and it dealt massive damage.
There’s a lot of variety to choose from in Immortals: Fenyx Rising that will suit different playstyles. For example, one could even choose a stealth build which is great for sneaking up on enemies and slaying them from a bush. Later on, you even get an upgrade for your bird that can turn you invisible. Each God you help also grants blessings to aid different abilities. Athena, for example, is all about bow attacks and buffs charged arrows and can even strike lightning down on enemies when hit.
The freedom to choose your gear and the way you build your character makes Immortals: Fenyx Rising a fun RPG. I was always excited to go back to the Hall of The Gods and spend coins on new skills and upgrade my axe damage. The grind to obtain all the different currencies paid off after I kept getting my ass handed to me by a legendary creature only to beat it with some new skills I unlocked.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising is also a gorgeous game. I played it on PS5 and the game takes advantage of the DualSense triggers when using a bow and when scouting the area. The triggers vibrate subtly when I was looking at a location to discover. It definitely helped speed up the scouting. Of course, every region is also unique and exploring each one is fun and pure eye candy. The PS5 shines here too as distant building look great without any loss in quality. I could stand anywhere, gaze at Mount Olympus and pinpoint its finer details.
I hope everyone gets a chance to play Immortals: Fenyx Rising because there is a lot of fun to be had here. I found its world more interesting than Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla to the point where I actually wanted to go places and solve every single puzzle. Its combat is addictive and its character build system means you can approach it from so many ways. All this combines to deliver a fantastic adventure worth your time. Don’t let this game pass you by.
This Immortals Fenyx Rising review was based on a code sent to us by Ubisoft
Available On: PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC, Switch| Reviewed On: PS5 | Release Date: 3 December 2020 | Price: R1280
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