A Godly Good Time
We all know of Ubisoft and the perpetual Assassins Creed saga. Fewer yet may know of Ubisoft and its long list of retro RPGs, which includes the likes of Grandia and Evolution – among others. Those classic RPGs, however, are buried beneath the hugely successful and massively open world Assassin’s Creed games, which are, typically, solid in their own right. So it was no surprise that Immortals: Fenyx Rising was described as an open world action RPG based upon Greek mythology. I heard great things, so I, of course, had to have myself a go. But I wondered if Fenyx could break away from the Assassin’s Creed format and become a success on its own. The idea seemed daunting to me.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising sees its titular character lampooned upon the isle of the gods, a man made gift to Zeus and his offspring as a cry from help from Daedalus. The captain and soldiers of the troop she’s a part of have been turned to stone – including her heroic brother – so Fenyx, the storyteller, decides to attempt to save them. This is all a part of a story that Prometheus is narrating to Zeus in an attempt to be freed of his chains (Zeus had put him there after a failed coup of sorts). Typhon rages, having stolen the essences of Zeus’ children, and Fenyx seems to be the only one who can return them to their former glory and depose the titan from his reign of destruction.
At the onset, Fenyx Rising feels and looks a lot like a typical Assassin’s Creed game. There’s a sprawling world to explore, numerous collectibles and upgrades to find and harvest, and a plethora of side quests to accomplish. That is where the similarities end, however. Fenyx quickly gains a set of Daedauls’ wings, which enable her to glide around the world (she can also tame horses, but who needs those?). Chests containing upgrade materials, armors, and weapons litter the world, and vaults of Typhon are positioned in great numbers in each area (these serve as puzzle dungeons that reminded me, just a little bit, of Breath of the Wild). Constellation and fresco puzzles can be solved to unravel the tragedy of Daedalus – and it’s all worth your while to explore.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising is much more the RPG than Assassin’s Creed, and it was glorious. Each weapon has different strengths, and every set of gear can be upgraded (there are also many different color variations of each piece of equipment, and you can customize how Fenyx looks without having to change the gear she’s wearing). She also utilizes a slew of abilities/skills and god powers to her advantagle, all of which can be upgrade with coins of Charon (obtained by completing the aforementioned constellation challenges, big lyre challenges, etc. and sometimes found in vault chests). Health and stamina can be upgraded through ambrosia and Zeus’ lightning. You can craft your character how you like, and, if you’re trophy hunting, can power Fenyx up way past ‘max’ levels.
Gameplay is a mixture of simplicity and complexity that appears deceptively easy to grasp but is actually a bit tougher to master. At first, combat just feels like the mashing of the R1/R2 buttons based on how you want to swing your weapon of choice (sword or axe/maul). As you continue to grow, however, the combination of attacks with stun abilities, god powers, and more allow you to play the game as you want. Additionally, each set of armor or weaponry comes equipped with upgrades to various stats and abilities, meaning you can really customize your play style to how you prefer. I chose to wield a heavy hammer/maul that dealt loads of stun damage before finishing off my stunned foes with some quick sword slashes. I rarely used the bow outside of Odysseus challenges, but there is a ranged attack there should you prefer that. In all, the freedom of gameplay makes Fenyx Rising a liberating title.
Visually, Immortals: Fenyx Rising is full of breathtaking colors and set pieces. While Fenyx and the other character models aren’t anything special (they’re a bit cartoony, but it works), the arrangement of colors, particularly on next gen consoles, is impressive. Even the sparkling gold glitter of the gods is pretty to watch. Everything fits the tone of the game, and the environments match the personalities of the gods they were built to honor, so it’s a cool additional layer that many games don’t necessarily have.
As for sound, the voice acting was terrific. Line deliveries were comedically on point, and each character, while a caricature of him/herself, are certainly believable in the world Ubisoft has created. Music, on the other hand, was forgettable. In fact, I can’t recall a moment where the soundtrack drew me in the way it might in a Final Fantasy, for example. This isn’t a huge detriment, but it is something that I felt was lacking.
If you’re pondering what to play next on your PS5 or Xbox Series X due to a lack of a wide selection, Immortals: Fenyx Rising is definitely an experience worth playing. Its comical take on Greek mythology is fresh, and the freedom of gameplay will keep you playing for hours. It wasn’t until I was on the final grind for the platinum trophy that my interest died down (searching for dozens upon dozens of chests grew a bit tiresome), but I did put a healthy 30ish hours into the storyline, completing every puzzle and vault I came across on that journey. The platinum took just under 60 hours, I believe. 100% completion of every in-game task would certainly take longer, and Ubisoft has been consistently adding DLC content and free, limited timed missions, so content has yet to run fully dry. In any case, if you’re looking for a beautiful open world action RPG that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Immortals: Fenyx Rising fits the bill – and then some.