Immortals Fenyx Rising Review – A Game That Works.

In amongst a fairly strong third party launch window for the next-gen consoles, one title has flown slightly under the radar. Ubisoft Quebec released Immortals Fenyx Rising on the 3rd December, shortly after Ubisoft Montreal’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Watch Dogs Legion. Previously known as Gods and Monsters, Immortals Fenyx Rising will cost you £49.99 and equivalent! Let’s get into my Immortals Fenyx Rising review! I was playing on my Xbox Series X.

Gameplay? 9/10 – Melding a multitude of systems and inspirations, this is a game with multiple strengths.

There’s a LOT of gameplay in Immortals, so if you just imagine Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, meets Breath of The Wild, meets a myriad of other open world titles. 

It’s perhaps this reason that Immortals Fenyx Rising has been lacking the same breadth of coverage that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077 have received. Simply put, from trailers alone Immortals doesn’t seem like anything special.

The trick is that Immortals does everything that it attempts well. If you don’t know Ubisoft Quebec, they’re actually the team behind both Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Odyssey. Given how much I disliked Odyssey, for gameplay and everything else, I’m surprised by how much I vibed with Immortals Fenyx Rising.

The Golden Isle

The game takes place on the Golden Isle, and all around the land you’ll find puzzles, combat encounters, collectables, and vaults. Vaults can contain any combination of the other things I mentioned, but normally they’ll be based around a certain ‘idea’. Ideas like guiding giant balls into cannons to knock down brick walls in order to clear your path. Or trying to move wooden boxes onto pressure plates without getting them caught in lasers.

Mild physics puzzles, traversal problems, and combat encounters preventing access to the final goal in these Vaults – Zeus’s lightning. This lightening, and the other resources you’ll find in hard-to-reach chests strewn throughout each and every vault.

I’m focusing on Vaults here because they’re the primary way you’re gonna be spending your time within Immortals Fenyx Rising. I got the achievement for completing 25 vaults in my journey, and there were still plenty I hadn’t even stepped foot in come the end of my 30 hour journey. 

Along with these more focused puzzling experiences, you’ll find plenty more spread out throughout the Golden Isle. Split into five zones, this fictional land is filled to overflowing with activities and items to locate. 

“No matter the puzzle, collectable, or guarded chest, you’re getting something engaging out of it.”

I’m gonna make a weird parallel here with Ghost of Tsushima, which I reviewed if you’re interested. With that game I enjoyed how all of the map’s activities contributed to your character growth and power, and the same applies here. No matter the puzzle, collectable, or guarded chest, you’re getting something engaging out of it.

It could be a new visual for your armour, in which case Immortals borrows Odyssey’s excellent transmog system. It could be entirely new armour, that come attached with combat enhancing perks. Or maybe it’s just gems, in which case you can amass them to upgrade your weapons and armour. Most world puzzles also give you Charon Coins, which is used to upgrade your combat abilities.

If that all sounds like a lot, don’t worry it’s not. Incredibly, Immortals’ swathe of gameplay mechanics come together in a laid back, approachable loop that feels constantly gratifying. 

There aren’t too many puzzles that stumped me for long, with most of them fairly self-explanatory as a result of the environments or required mechanics. What they did manage was enough engagement that I always felt like I was beating the game, it gave me that ‘I won’ feeling that puzzle games so often do.

Combat

Outside of puzzles, combat is a central part of Immortals Fenyx Rising, and it’s done just as well here. It’s a fairly simple light/ heavy attack fare, but mixed in are God related abilities that rely on a resource bar. Each relates to famous Greek gods, like Hephaistos’ Hammer for instance. That’s actually my particular favorite, as the visual and audio feedback of swinging the hammer down onto the ground is extremely satisfying.

They’re most similar to the offensive abilities you could unlock in Odyssey, but they’re far more gratifying to use here. Vibrant lighting, excellent animations, and a feedback loop that makes these God powered abilities quite addictive. 

So excellent combat? Check. Fun puzzles? Also check! How about getting around?

Exploration

Well that’s the only noticeable wrinkle in the formula here. Moving through the map in Immortals Fenyx Rising just never really felt fun or engaging. Flying, on the Wings of Daedalus by the way, feels pretty great credit where it’s due. But, unlike games like Spider-Man and Ghost of Tsushima, travelling between ‘places of interest’ was never the engaging section of gameplay. Sure, climbing a gigantic statue to find a hunk of Ambrosia to increase your health bar is actually quite entertaining. But the process of crossing the Golden Isle and reaching that statue is pretty… boring?

The Golden Isle is a pretty place, as we’ll come to, but in the pursuit of that ‘BOTW magic’ it’s clear that the developers forgot what makes exploration so engaging. The feeling of discovery should be on the player, instead of the world feeling crafted solely FOR the player. If that makes any sense. 

Each and every activity in Immortals Fenyx Rising is entertaining, gratifying, and rewarding. But these activities also feel placed and spaced out specifically for the player, rather than feeling like an organic part of the world around you. It’s a tough balance to walk in any open world game, and Immortals doesn’t quite manage that.

In the grand scheme of things though, gameplay is supposed to be fun right? Immortals actually manages that just fine. The combat pops, the puzzles are entertaining, and the progression mechanics are addictive.

I just wish things felt slightly less… catered.

I should make a quick note on questing, but there’s not a lot to say! Mostly because this area is significantly reduced from other Ubisoft titles, and open world games in general. You’ll mostly be doing the primary story thread, but as you save gods and meet other characters, you’ll be able to engage in their personal side quests. They’re usually pretty short, but they give these characters time shine in an otherwise fairly focused experience.

If you’re expecting dozens upon dozens of side quests then you may come away disappointed, but I was pretty excited to be able to mostly mainline a game and not feel punished or left out. 

Visuals? 8/10 – While the art style might not be for everyone, Immortals Fenyx Rising is largely gorgeous.

First thing I need to acknowledge is that the visual style of Immortals Fenyx Rising won’t be for everyone. If you’re one of those people that pokes fun at Fortnite’s art style, or flexes online about ‘only playing realistic games’ then Immortals Fenyx Rising might not be for you.

If you don’t mind the approach to Immortal’s art style, then I’ve gotta be honest, it’s pretty stunning. While I mentioned my reservations given the world design, the constant visual treat it provided was something I didn’t expect going in. It’s also one of the very few games that I haven’t opted to use filters and other settings in the photo mode. 

The softer visuals just aren’t as common these days, and it’s easy to make the comparison to Breath of the Wild. I do think Immortals manages to stand out on its own though, and it’s genuinely stunning a lot of the time. 

The downside to this paired back approach is that a lot of the textures are just a bit… meh. It’s a shame that there hasn’t yet been a game that can find the middle point between cartoony and laid back visuals, and detailed textures but that’s not on show here. 

Likewise the lip synching is pretty poor. Character’s mouths rarely match up to what’s being said, and it can be fairly off putting in the longer cutscenes.

Other than that? Immortals Fenyx Rising is a genuinely gorgeous game, albeit not one for those who can’t handle softer approaches.

Audio? 9/10 – With barely anything to criticise, it’s a shame that the OST isn’t more memorable.

Immortals is a weird one when it comes to Audio because pretty much all of it is… good? There’s actually not a lot I can pick holes in which is rare. My major problem is that the OST never really stood out. I can’t think of a particular moment or beat within the game that came accompanied with a song that I particularly liked, or that stuck around.

That aside, the sound in Immortals is pretty good. Each and every special attack comes tied to a satisfying audio cue, and I particularly love some of the VA mixing, namely Typhon.

The primary antagonist of Immortals Fenyx Rising has a wonderful cadence, that just reverberates through the rest of the mix every time he speaks. I love it.

Story? 8/10 – While a little short on anything outside of the box, the delivery method of the story really stands out.

Immortals Fenyx Rising follows the titular hero, Fenyx, as he aims to thwart the primary antagonist Typhon. After suffering as part of a shipwreck Fenyx wakes up on the Golden Isle, surrounded by his crew who have been turned to stone. 

Turns out, Typhon doesn’t much like the Greek pantheon and did his best to tear them down. Pretty effectively to be honest. Your main goal throughout Immortals Fenyx Rising is to locate some of the gods, restore them to their former glory, and accompany them in a final battle against Typhon!

So that’s the primary pitch, and it’s… fine. The primary story isn’t actually anything to write home about, it’s a pretty standard ‘Normal Person Becomes Hero’ story. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, because it’s definitely not. There just isn’t a lot that feels new.

What DOES feel new is how this story is told. While played and told in part from the perspective of Fenyx himself, much of the world building and commentary comes from Prometheus and Zeus. Prometheus is actually telling the story using his powers of foresight, and you’re playing along with it. Zeus is there to see how it all plays out and chimes in with sarcastic or funny lines fairly regularly.

It’s a refreshing way to receive a story, and by having someone else narrating you avoid any awkward exposition to get the player up to speed. It’s a clever storytelling tool that I’d be up for seeing in more games moving forward.

Acting? 9/10 – With only a slight annoyance in the crossover with Odyssey, the acting performances in Immortals are pretty great overall.

Accompanying the clever storytelling is the host of acting performances. Unlike most Open World titles, there’s actually three performances going on a lot of the time. Fenyx, Zeus, and Prometheus. Eventually other characters will start to make an appearance, an early example being Hermes.

For the type of game that Immortals Fenyx Rising is, the voice acting is pretty great. With that I mean that Immortals is a child friendly open world title. If you were to place some of these performances in the gritty Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, they’d seem overacted or out of place. Here, in Immortals, they meld with the world and writing style pretty damn well.

My only gripe is that the lead character Fenyx is voiced by my least favorite character in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – Alkibiades. It took me hours to get around that, and I still wasn’t properly toward the end of the game. That’s mostly a me problem though, so I can’t imagine that being an annoyance for many other people.

Writing? 9/10 – While the humour might not be for everyone, it had a very high success rate with me personally. The writing, for all ages, is excellent.

I should start this by saying that the writing in Immortals Fenyx Rising will be very subjective. There’s a brand of humour here that simply won’t vibe with everyone. 

Immortals also relies on a cursory knowledge of Greek legend to deliver a lot of its punchlines. Thankfully it’s pretty surface level stuff, so most people shouldn’t be kept in the dark. 

But the humour certainly won’t be for everyone. It’s not toilet humour or anything, it doesn’t bank on anything less-than-savoury, but it’s pretty cartoony stuff. I really enjoyed the humour in Immortals, but it’s closer to Cartoon Network than to Portal if you get my drift. 

What I did like is although Immortals is certainly designed and written for a younger audience, there’s plenty of references for adults as well. A particular favorite is when Prometheus realises Zeus has been lied to about how Aphrodite was born and has to explain via a series of hushed whispers. 

Anyone that KNOWS the story will find it funny, and any adult that doesn’t will likely be able to infer enough to go and Google it. But the kids will just find the whole situation funny.

Ubisoft Quebec had to balance the writing for two audiences, which is never a simple task. I think they did a great job, and I found the large majority of the exchanges entertaining or laugh out loud funny which is great. I can’t say with any confidence how anyone else would receive it though.

Performance? 10/10 – With not a single flaw in sight, Immortals Fenyx Rising is one of the best performers of the year.

I mentioned in my recent commentary on Cyberpunk 2077 and other buggy open world titles how impressed I was with Immortals Fenyx Rising. Actually calling the performance flawless there, you’ll be happy to know that it tracked throughout.

I didn’t suffer a single bug, glitch, or quirk throughout my journey to save Olympus, and that’s impressive. Immortals isn’t as grand in size or scope as some other open world games, but I always appreciate a game that just works. No fuss, no creaking of the joints, it just works out of the gate.

Immortals IS that game, and my journey was made ever more enjoyable by the fact I wasn’t worrying if my save state would corrupt, or the enemy AI would phase into the environment, or the game would just crash. 

A refreshing experience.

Fun Factor? 8/10 – While there maybe still slightly too much to do, it’s all pretty gratifying to take part in. A worthy 30ish hours.

I think mileage will vary here. If you fundamentally dislike puzzle games, then Immortals Fenyx Rising might not be for you. It’s not the most perplexing game out there, but there are probably puzzles counting in the triple digits across the Golden Isle.

Aside from that though, Immortals Fenyx Rising is a very inoffensive game. It works fine, there’s a complete lack of insulting or derogatory writing, and the moment to moment gameplay is a lot of fun. There’s still a LOT to do, which may put people off. But unlike a lot of other open world titles there’s not a lot of need to go out of your way to do it. Mainlining seems perfectly feasible, although there is a question of how much damage you’ll do in the end, but for most people that won’t be a major worry.

The combat is as tight as you’re likely to get in a game like this, and all of the varying systems mesh together to create a very relaxing and gratifying 30-40 hours.

Value? 10/10 – With a full fleshed out story, a functioning NG+ mode, multiple difficulties, and gear to hunt for, Immortals is the complete package.

There’s a LOT of game here. The story is probably only 15-20 hours, but a single playthrough can be easily stretched upwards of 40 hours. My game clock says I hit 30 hours bang on, and I left a lot of places of interest untouched. 

There’s a NG+ option at launch, multiple difficulty tiers, and a bunch of stuff to find. Certain armour sets will take genuine focus to unlock, and visuals have to be hunted down via chests strewn about the world.

More importantly, recent events have demonstrated how important it is to have a game that just works as advertised. Immortals Fenyx Rising probably isn’t anybody’s game of the year, but it’s a complete package out of the gate.

How Much Did The Reviewer Enjoy It? 9/10 – Taking me by complete surprise, Immortals is one of my favourite games of the year. 

Surprisingly, as you can tell by my rather glowing review, I liked Immortals Fenyx Rising a LOT. Much more than I thought I would going in. Truth be told I only chose to do this review because our other writer Kyle would have his hands full with Cyberpunk 2077.

I’m glad I did though, Immortals is the exact game I needed and wanted. A chilled, approachable, and well crafted open world game to just live in for a bit. My only major complaint is how discovery and exploration is handled, and I used fast travel much more than I do in other games as a result.

Aside from that, I cannot recommend Immortals Fenyx Rising enough. It’s gotten lost amongst the Valhalla and Cyberpunk conversation, but I’d make an argument that Immortals is more than worth your money.

Enjoy this Immortals Fenyx Rising review? Check out our other reviews here! Until next time, have a fantastic week and have as brilliant a Christmas as is possible in 2020. 

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