We’ve seen Greek and Roman mythology so much in popular media that we know the names of heroes and gods as much as we know the Marvel superheroes. It’s been done before and yet, I love coming back to it when it’s done correctly. When Ubisoft announced Immortals Fenyx Rising, which at the time was called Gods & Monsters, I was excited about the possibilities of a third-person action-adventure title in that world. I got the chance to get hands-on time with the demo, and before we jump into reviewing it, Immortals Fenyx Rising is more robust and immersive than I could have imagined.
Developed by the team at Ubisoft Quebec, Immortals Fenyx Rising takes you on a grand mythological adventure as a Fenyx. In the game, you’re on a quest to save the Greek gods and their home from a dark curse created by the Titan Typhon. Only by mastering the legendary powers of the gods, overcoming heroic trials, and confronting powerful mythological beasts, will Fenyx be able to take on Typhon, the deadliest Titan in Greek mythology. The first step to embarking on your journey is creating your version of Fenyx.
While the character creation system in Immortals Fenyx Rising is not as robust as others, it does offer variations in skin tone that are satisfying and has the ability to mix and match voice and hair with no gender restrictions. This is an inclusive element of character creation systems that is becoming standard with Baldur’s Gate 3 and Cyberpunk 2077. This isn’t where the RPG-elements stop. With weapons and skill trees for your powers, and the ability to upgrade skins and other items like bracers and helmets, your character’s fate is in your hands as you choose upgrades that best suit your playstyle.
You enter the game with the Sword of Achilles and as you progress through the first part of the story, which takes place in the Clashing Rocks, you gain the Ax of Atalanta and Bow of Odysseus. These three weapons allow you to choose what style of combat works for you. While you can use any weapon you want while exploring to deal with mobs you encountered on your journey, each weapon also has benefits and detriments when you enter boss battles. Each piece of equipment is also tied to the powers of the Greek myths they represent.
In addition to weapons, you also get access to the Bracers of Herakles which imbue you with the demi-god’s power to lift and move objects in the world, and the Wings of Daedalus which allow you to sprint, glide, and jump higher.
While the beginning of the game focuses on Fenyx using weapons and performing traditional action-RPG combos, as you progress, you unlock the godly abilities that spawn from your weapons. This allows you to use pointed attacks as well as area of effect-based ones. The combination between these powers and the weapon combos makes for a dynamic combat experience. Combat is never dull and is always evolving with you as you move through the world. In order to upgrade these abilities, you must head to the Hall of the Gods. There you can upgrade your skill trees for weapons and godly powers in addition to your health and stamina. There, you also craft potions, another RPG-element, and can even collect daily challenges.
But it isn’t just the combat that is expansive. While I was given five hours to play the demo, I found myself needing to explore every bit of the Clashing Rocks, the opening zone of Immortals Fenyx Rising. I wanted to uncover every chest, beat every challenge, and to explore the zone to completion. That said, it was nearly impossible. After putting four hours into that one zone, I still had so much left to do. While I did complete the story quests rather quickly, elements like chests, Lute Challenges, and the Vaults of Tartaros kept me wanting to explore more. The fact that I didn’t get to explore some of the areas in the zone is actually still sitting unwell with me. The world is truly open in this game, and when you couple this with a diverse traversal system, it’s easy to get locked in and just keep grinding for that 100% zone completion.
In the demo, you can traverse the environment by walking, sprinting, gliding, swimming, and climbing, with walking being the only method not dependent on the stamina bar. The most interesting traversal element is the climbing mechanic. With nearly every surface in the game scalable, the climbing mechanic is one of the most-used methods to gain access to different locations. However, climbing isn’t as easy as it seems. While all you have to do is walk up to a wall and move forwards, your movement is directly connected to your stamina. If you try to climb something too tall, you’ll fail. Similarly, if you try to swim past what your stamina allows, you’ll fail as well.
With all of this being said, the expansive world includes Vaults of Tartaros, ruptures in the world caused by Typhon that when entered, allow Feniyx to enter the underworld. In these, you complete a series of puzzles that require different gameplay elements that you have learned to complete. In early Vaults, you’ll jump and climb and in later ones, you’ll navigate a ball through a puzzle from a birds-eye view using the wind, and others still, you’ll use Herakles’s strength to throw boxes. This is where a platforming aspect comes into play and is my favorite element of the game. These not only serve as challenges to gain Lightning Bolts of Zeus, which can be exchanged for upgrades, but are also a good way to get familiar with how you move and travel in the game. Truthfully, Immortals Fenyx Rising is an amazing blend of open-world exploration, RPG mechanics, action-RPG combat, and puzzle-platformers. With diverse gameplay, you won’t get bored in the world.
Ultimately, Immortals Fenyx Rising is an exhilarating experience from a gameplay perspective. This is only increased by how the writers have woven Greek mythology into the game and how the story elements have been brought to life in stunning animation. Narrated by Zeus and Prometheus, you hear the description of your progression through the two gods’ bickering as they add commentary and tell your story as you experience it. This injects humor into the game that matches the animation. Additionally, the characters’ dialogue also showcases deft humorous hands. That said, even with the humor, the darkness of Typhon’s push against the gods for their selfishness comes through. In fact, it’s clear that the gods aren’t really all that benevolent. Beyond the narration, players also fight against mythological creatures like the Cyclops, Minotaur, and gorgons. You meet an oracle and even recreate elements of the mythology to help the gods in trouble.
Overall, with just one demo, Immortals Fenyx Rising has become my most anticipated game of the holiday season. From its combat to its story and even the ability to put myself into Greek myth by creating a character who resembles me, this game is going to prove just how to handle Greek mythology through a new lens. Immortals Fenyx Rising has superb combat, stunning visuals, and challenges that will push you to every end of the extensive zones.
Immortals Fenyx Rising will be available worldwide on December 3, 2020 for Stadia, Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch system, PlayStation4, PC and will release on PlayStation5 upon the launch of the console.
The demo for Immortals Fenyx Rising is available now on Google Stadia.