Immortals: Fenyx Rising, Ubisoft’s latest in a long lineage of open-world titles, does nothing to break the publisher’s established formula that it has been working on for over a decade.
While there’s an overwhelming sense of familiarity about it, its unique charm makes its lack of mechanical imagination less of an issue than it at first appears.
A Long Way From Home
Immortals is almost always colourful
Waking up on a mysterious beach following a shipwreck, players take control of the titular Fenyx – a rookie soldier that can be male or female.
Claiming their brother’s sword, Fenyx’s journey takes him or her across gorgeous themed islands to battle Typhon – a fiery titan looking to rid the world of the Gods of Olympus.
Along the way, you’ll meet deities of the Greek pantheon and earn new abilities and weapons with which to take on Typhon’s minions.
The pacing here is excellent, with each upgrade facilitating a “I’ll play for a bit longer” mentality that pushes you from one quest to the next.
Combat is excellent
One of the best parts of Immortals is its combat. While it starts simply, with both quick and heavy attacks and a bow for ranged engagements, it begins to open up as Fenyx gains more of the mythical upgrades strewn throughout the world, and doled out as rewards.
Before long you’ll be parrying some attacks, dodging unblockable ones, and unleashing new skill tree paths.
There are impressive RPG systems, too, with a gear system that offers just enough complexity to be able to flexibly tweak Fenyx’s playstyle without being too obtuse for a relative newcomer.
…Not a Deep Thinker
Less successful are the game’s exploration and puzzle-solving mechanics. With a climbing system that’s more than a tip of the cap to Breath of the Wild, Ubisoft’s open-world is gorgeous – but it never feels like you’re left to discover anything by yourself.
Map markers are all over the world once you scan them with Fenyx’s Far-sight ability, but it makes everything feel less like an unexpected discovery and more like a box-ticking exercise.
Similarly, puzzles rarely boil down to anything other than placing items to open doors. Sometimes it’s boulders, sometimes it’s crates, and sometimes it’s flaming arrows to light braziers, but it’s all variations on a theme that feels well worn by the time you reach the game’s conclusion.
Gods and Monsters
Areas are varied, with different biomes to explore
While Fenyx him or herself is very much a cypher for players and lacking in discernible personality, the rest of the cast fares much better.
Despite being built on the formidable, lore-filled skeleton of Ancient Greek mythology, the overall aesthetic of Immortals is closer to a Dreamworks animation.
Characters have large, expressive eyes, occasionally over-the-top accents, and plenty of jokes courtesy of co-narrators Zeus and Prometheus.
While I enjoyed their back and forth bantering and the overall levity of the adventure for the most part, I did feel their constant ribbing of each other felt a little misplaced in more emotional sections.
Elsewhere, Hermes is great fun, offering a cheeky wit and the occasional prank throughout your journey. I relished the chance to bump into these characters, even when they didn’t have a new upgrade for me to earn.
While lacking in originality, Immortals: Fenyx Rising is an exuberant adventure that crams plenty of familiar heroes and Gods into a vibrant open world.
It would have been nicer to be able to stumble upon its secrets in a less obvious way, but it’s one of the most pleasant surprises of 2020.
Review Copy Provided By The Publisher
Reviewed on PlayStation 5