Wednesday, December 9, 2020.
by Peggy Doyle

IMMORTALS FENYX RISING Box art “When Heroes need help, they turn to the Gods. When Gods need help, they turn to you”. This was the one phrase Ubisoft used in their reveal trailer in June of 2019 when they announced a new game called Gods and Monsters, and I was hooked. This beautiful cinematic reveal ticked off a lot of boxes for me – bows, swords, beautiful scenery and cute characters. Since then I’ve waited with anticipation for the release of IMMORTALS FENYX RISING, and over the last week I have finally had the opportunity to play it under it’s new name, IMMORTALS FENYX RISING. It did not disappoint and, in fact, was so much more than I anticipated.

You play as Fenyx, a warrior who has long been overshadowed by her brother and all his accomplishments. You can play Fenyx as female or male and can customize their appearance and also change their appearance later in the game. As I played through as female, I will use her when referring to Fenyx. When you start the game, you and your fellow soldiers have your ship destroyed by a massive storm. You awake on an island filled with mythical beasts, magical items and the world in danger from an ancient evil threat, Typhon. Typhon has returned to destroy the gods and rebuild the world as he wishes.

Typhon has turned all the people to stone. You meet up with Hermes, the messenger god (and your guide), who explains that Typhon defeated the other gods and has trapped them in various states of helplessness. Your job is to assist the Gods and help each of them return to their rightful form and glory. I will not spoil any of this, as I enjoyed seeing the appearance of each God as I encountered them. I absolutely adored our main protagonist Fenyx. She is not the typical hero who you would expect to find in an open world style game like this. She reminded me of a fan girl who is simply happy to help people. This was one of the reasons I continued to want to play this game, to move the story forward. Her reactions and interactions with the Gods she meets were cute. It was pure excitement and I found myself cheering for her.

The story is narrated by two major figures from Greek mythology, Zeus and Prometheus. Zeus is desperate for help with the attacks and turns to Prometheus for some assistance. Prometheus isn’t a big fan of Zeus (if you know their history) but agrees to help and suggests that mortals could be the key to saving the world. Such begins the telling of the tale of... Immortals Fenyx Rising. Zeus and Prometheus narrate and discuss various activities and events throughout the game. While there is a lot of talking early in the game, it does taper off as you progress. When they do chime in though, it’s often for comedic purposes. Their storytelling reminded me a lot of two friends sharing stories. One will interject or elaborate, though in most cases this was Zeus, often trying to make himself look bigger and better than the original story.

As these two ‘bigger than life’ characters tell or change parts of the narrative, the world changes around Fenyx as well. For example, a Cyclops doubling in size as Zeus contradicts Prometheus’ version of events. I enjoyed hearing two different versions of the same story, and often found myself laughing out loud when hearing the reactions of both of the narrators. I found the writing clever, witty and it has been a long time since a game made me smile and laugh as much. I understand how this humour will not be for everyone though, and some may even find it cringey.

I appreciated the fact that the developers made the decision to take IMMORTALS FENYX RISING in a very different direction than other big open world games that Ubisoft is famous for, in particular Assassins Creed Odyssey to which IMMORTALS FENYX RISING gets compared to. The characters all use very ‘modern’ language, use slang and make jokes. They will often criticize the various Greek myths for being too mean, gross or weird. As most people may know, Greek myths are often violent and not PG in nature, but this game keeps everything relatively family friendly. On paper this might all sound terrible but in practice, it works incredibly well.

The game is beautiful, looking like it could have been ripped directly from famous paintings or frescos. Bright blue skies, vibrant green vegetation, brilliant whites of buildings, and the splashes of red throughout, all leapt off the screen. This is one of the more beautiful games I have seen recently.

Voice acting was enjoyable, using rich, robust voices for the Gods, and more jovial and lighter voices for Fenyx. You have a companion throughout the game, a bird that can be customized. The sounds for this companion change as you chose different versions that assist you. Hermes interactions with Fenyx seem natural, like they would truly be friends. My favourite voicing combination was between the two narrators, who you could visualize sitting together talking and joking. All interactions were paced well and seemed natural. As with most soundtracks in RPG style games, the music quickens and swells during battle scenes creating extra drama during these moments. The general score of the game, was relaxing and ethereal.

Fighting and movement rely on a stamina and health bar combo. This is familiar for those who love the genre. Parry, dodge, block, light and heavy hits. For me, I think that they streamlined the combat a little too much. I would have liked to have seen more combo attacks and variety of battles would have been appreciated. Even with it being more simple than other games I have played of this genre; it was still enjoyable. You can find new gear, upgrade current items, as well as upgrade your health and stamina bars at the Hall of Gods that becomes your hub for the game. Collecting Ambrosia, special coins and Zeus’ lighting will allow you to open special skills. Hermes resides there as well with a small store, and daily missions should you choose to ear money to buy from him. This is also where you can change Fenyx’s looks. As you progress through the Heroes stories, they will gift you special ‘blessings’ which are basically special abilities.

One of the common comments you hear about IMMORTALS FENYX RISING is how it looks heavily influenced by Breath of the Wild, and the comparison is fair. It is full of puzzles, and even though I expected they would be found in the game, I didn’t expect there to be so many. I loved this component more than I anticipated. Some are very simple, like rearranging a 4-part set of blocks to make a picture or rolling a rock onto a plate to open a gate. Others involve working your way through doors, using levers, stepping on pressure plates, shooting arrows (while standing on the plates), changing the direction of the wind and more. The vaults have more complex puzzles, and some took me awhile to determine what I needed to do. Sometimes it can feel like you are missing something obvious, and just when you think all is lost, you will notice a small detail and the whole thing clicks into place. The puzzles as a whole were very satisfying to complete.

All in all, IMMORTALS FENYX RISING surpassed my expectations. It was a fun and beautiful game, full of exploration, puzzles, combat and humour. Despite being left with wanting more from the combat in the game, I could not stop playing it. Between the humour and the sheer delightfulness of Fenyx, I was captivated and found myself wanting to continue exploring and playing its world more. In the end, it is a game that I can wholeheartedly recommend if you are looking for something new to play this year.

**IMMORTALS FENYX RISING was reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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