Immortals Fenyx Rising has risen from of the ashes of Gods and Monsters, and ahead of today’s showing at Ubisoft Forward, Stevivor was able to put the game through its paces.
“Immortals Fenyx Rising evokes the timeless nature of not only gods and magical creatures, but also the thrill of mythology itself; stories and legends that live forever through storytelling,” Producer Marc-Alexis Coté said to Stevivor, explaining the name change. “We also felt it was important to shine a light on Fenyx and her journey, as the first main character of this new franchise.”
For those who’ve now seen gameplay, let’s just get straight to the elephant in the room: Immortals Fenyx Rising is a straight-up mashup of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey‘s Greek mythology and well, The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild‘s everything else. Protagonist Fenyx has wings that won’t let her fly but instead glide, needs to manage stamina in order to scale cliffs and the like and heads to vantage points in order to spot out landmarks to then investigate. It’s hard not to think of BotW while you’re playing, and you know what? That’s fine. There are far worse titles for Ubisoft Quebec to have flattered through imitation.
“It’s an honor to be compared to such a great game,” Coté said of Breath of the Wild, adding that other inspirations included “some of the greatest timeless adventures, notably Ghibli Studio and other Japanese productions.”
Fenyx Rising places our hero against Typhon, who’s broken the barrier between the world of humanity and Tartarus, the underworld, imprisoning the Olympians in the process. Fenyx will need to liberate the Olympians and their regions before heading to Tartarus’ lair in the centre of the Golden Isles. As she sets forth on her quests, she’s given new gear and abilities from the Gods themselves, including that sweet set of Wings of Daedalus I’ve already mentioned. Immortals trumps BotW by giving you a phoenix named Phosphor as a companion in case you weren’t getting the vibe the game’s new title is trying to throw at you.
Coté called Fenyx Rising a light RPG with “a fresh and witty take on the open world action adventure genre, featuring dynamic action combat and stories inspired by Greek mythology,” and I feel that’s pretty accurate from the two hours or so I had with it. While you do have the option to fully inspect gear and min-max to the nines, I found more fun in playing with my hero’s special abilities. I was wielding an axe that allowed for light and heavy attacks with my Xbox controller’s RB and RT buttons, but attacks powered through the LT were really where it was at.
It’s with LT and a face button that Fenyx will tap into her godlike powers, swinging the Hammer of Hepaestus or calling upon Phosphor to shower enemies in fire. To maximise my playtime, I admittedly jumped into things on easy difficulty mode, but Ubisoft Quebec promises a number of difficulties for those who want to make everything as Soulslike as possible. Fenyx has the ability to dodge and parry, so you’ll likely be able to challenge yourself to the nth degree if that’s your thing.
While combat was serviceable, I found far greater joy in exploration, not only marking out points of interest and then investigating, but getting to points to realise they housed puzzles within. One required me to move a box through a maze riddled with health-destroying lazers, while another had me fire the Batman Arkham-like remote-controlled Batara– um, Apollo’s Arrow, through a maze of sorts. I also stumbled across crafting centres needed to make potions to top up your health and stamina alongside combat challenges that can only be engaged in the evening, offering up something called Midnight Fragments as a reward when doing so.
All these systems are all bolstered by Fenyx Rising‘s Vaults, which were great as Temples in BotW and equally as good here. Based around combat or puzzle-solving (or both), the Vaults have been used by Tartarus to hide the lightning bolts of Zeus… and you can borrow them to bolster your stamina. Combat moves are upgraded by Coins of Charon, found when solving overworld puzzles, while something called Ambrosia will let you boost your health.
Each of the Golden Isles locales will be themed to the Olympian that rules over them. Hepaestus’ region, The Forgelands, reflects his nature as the God of Blacksmiths, offering volcanos and similarly harsh landscapes alongside enemies who look like they’ve been cobbled together by a skilled craftsman. I can’t exactly describe why, but I was getting a very Odyssey-like vibe when I played, reminded of the futuristic look of Atlantis in comparison to the starkly contrasted look of Sparta. I’m all for it. On that Odyssey point, though, don’t get your hopes up.
“Apart from the game engine, the only thing that Immortals Fenyx Rising reuses of the Assassin’s Creed Universe is our knowledge of the Greek world,” Coté stressed to Stevivor. “Also, luckily for us our in-house historian, Stephanie-Anne Ruatta, has a degree in classical Greek Mythology, so we have been able to tap into her expertise to help bring Fenyx’s story to life.”
Customisation of the character of Fenyx was also highlighted by Ubisoft Quebec, with Coté confirming to Stevivor that, “we want players to feel like they are embodying Fenyx on their journey, and this led us to introduce character customization. The game will feature customization options for the body type, voice, hair and face of Fenyx independently.” Due to timezone differences, Coté conversed with Stevivor over email, so it’s unclear if the customisation means players can choose Fenyx’s pronouns to match Fenyx’s visual appearance. We’ve asked if Fenyx can be male or non-binary and will report back when more is known.
Perhaps the best bit of the two-hour demo was something that players mightn’t get to experience themselves. As you can hear in the gameplay below, our demo was narrated by Prometheus and Zeus, with a script specific to the demo experience and one that will be different from the retail release. I loved the narration, with the all-knowing Zeus breaking the fourth wall to speak of leaked gameplay footage and the like.
Lead Writer Jeffery Yohalem told Stevivor that the retail release’s narration will “definitely [have] the same levels of humor, but slightly less fourth wall-breaking,” continuing on to assert that Ubisoft Quebec will “go for more timeless jokes in the main game”.
“Humor is a key element of Immortals Fenyx Rising, because it was so important to the original myths,” Yohalem continued. “These were the Greeks’ reality tv shows and soap operas, they were a break from everyday life.”
Immortals Fenyx Rising heads to Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5, Switch and Stadia where available on 3 December. The title has been outed to support Xbox Smart Delivery across Xbox One and Xbox Series X.
3 December 2020 (PC PS4 PS5 Switch Xbox One | Series)
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