When The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released to an absolute cacophony of praise (including from myself) the gaming world waited for others to copy its formula. Years passed with nary a peep, but suddenly in 2020 we’re beginning to see it influence new games. The latest if those is Immortals Fenyx Rising (the game previously known as Gods & Monsters). Coming from the developers behind Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Fenyx Rising feels like a cross between that and Breath of the Wild, that doesn’t quite reach the heights of either game.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising follows the titular Fenyx as they awaken on an unfamiliar island after their ship gets caught in a storm. Their companions have all been turned to stone, leaving them as the only survivor, and seemingly the only human left in the world. They are quickly recruited by the Greek Gods, who have had their powers drained by the Titan Typhon. Unless they can restore the God’s powers, Typhon will reshape the world as he sees fit. If you’re familiar with Greek mythology, much of Fenyx Rising’s tone and story will be immediately recognisable to you. The game has an almost constant slant towards humour. Except for those moments where they suddenly start describing horrific acts that occurred in the past without skipping a beat. Just like Greek mythology. The issue with this is that they don’t quite nail the humour of the game. As opposed to feeling clever or tongue in cheek, it generally feels cheap and nasty, bringing down the overall narrative experience a tad.
Immediately following the opening cutscene, which sets the scene for the story, the parallels to Breath of the Wild are apparent. Walking up to a cliff, you begin to climb as a stamina meter quickly ticks down. You’re going to need to get used to managing your stamina here. Hitting the top of the cliff, the art style is immediately reminiscent of Hyrule, with an animated style that is pleasing to the eye. Get into your first combat encounter and you’re dodging, blocking and hitting light and heavy attacks that feels instantly familiar. You’re collecting plants to brew potions to heal yourself or boost your combat abilities. You’re searching the world for the game’s equivalent of trials, which reward you a resource to increase your stamina. You’re collecting resources in the world to upgrade your health, finding new gear and climbing high points to unlock the map and scout out new points of interest. You’re even unlocking new blessings from the Gods, such as immediately refilling your health when an attack would kill you (complete with a twenty-minute cooldown). If it wasn’t apparent before, Fenyx Rising takes a LOT of inspiration from Breath of the Wild.
Where Fenyx Rising begins to set itself apart from Breath of the Wild is in its combat. If you’ve played Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, you’ve basically played Fenyx Rising, with the latter’s combat system almost identical to its predecessor, except fora toned-down stealth system that is much more akin to Breath of the Wild’s extremely light mechanics. This is especially true in the game’s opening hours, where your repertoire is so limited that combat feels one note and tiresome. This changes as you progress, unlocking new god powers and combat systems that bring a more dynamic feel to combat. Beyond your standard dodges and parries (with perfect versions of each resulting in time slowing down and enemies being left open for attack respectively), you’ll unlock area of effect smash attacks, attacks that launch your enemies into the air and more. You’ll begin gaining abilities that can be chained together, creating a system that feels fun and interesting in practice. It’s just disappointing that it takes a bit too long for this to occur.
Much of your time in Fenyx Rising will be spent exploring the island and completing the myriad objectives and finding the innumerate collectibles that scatter its mass. This is again where the game feels more like Odyssey rather than Breath of the Wild. Just like any other Ubisoft open world game, the environment is chock full of different activities and collectibles. These range from resources to collect, such as Ambrosia which is used to upgrade your health, to chests filled with gear and cosmetics to find, and even some boss battles to take on. It’s not as big as Odyssey’s Greek Isles, which is both a boon and a curse, as while you won’t need to spend inordinate amounts of time getting to your next objective, the result is that the world begins to feel a bit too cluttered. Either way, you’ll find plenty of things to do, albeit in a much shorter timeframe than the 60+ hours Odyssey required unless you power levelled before Ubisoft cracked down on user-created quests that handed out experience like candy.
As you collect those resources and wipe out Typhon’s hordes, you’ll gather plenty of different currencies to upgrade Fenyx and their equipment at the Hall of the Gods. Here you’ll find a wealth of stations and sections, such as Zeus’s home gym, all dedicated to improving and customising Fenyx. This is both great and somewhat frustrating. The visual representation of all of these different stations is great, but it also means that you have to manually walk to each one and interact with them to upgrade Fenyx. This includes small cutscenes that, while charming, led to me banking resources and doing a mass upgrade to try and avoid them. You’ll also find Daily and Weekly challenges to complete, making Fenyx Rising almost feel like a live game at points. This also where you’ll upgrade your equipment, which is now a weapon/armour class-wide upgrade, as opposed to upgrading individual weapons or pieces of armour. The best thing here though, is the ability to customise Fenyx at any point. Hair styles, skin colours, genders and voices can be customised at any time in the Hall of the Gods and none of the options are locked behind gender choices. While the character creator isn’t particularly complex, its fantastic to have the ability to swap and change any facet of my character at any point.
As a cross-generational and stylised release, Fenyx Rising isn’t necessarily the best technical showpiece for the Xbox Series X. With that said, it still looks fantastic on the console, with its cartoonish and colourful style looking absolutely fantastic in action. Some textures are flat and lack the sort of tessellation we’ve seen in other current-generation releases, but the draw distance, quick load times and stable framerate offset that. All of my time with the game was spent in the game’s 60fps Performance mode, which is quickly becoming my favourite way to play games on my Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 (although Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales 30fps mode was incredible). I noticed some infrequent dips here and there when things got particularly hectic in-game, but nothing that felt particularly annoying or disengaging.
Overall, Immortals Fenyx Rising is a fun, yet unexceptional experience. It wears its influences on its sleeve, which may be satisfying or frustrating based on your own views. It’s mechanically fun, even if it takes a while to get to that point, while the world itself is beautiful and interesting to explore without being a technical marvel. You’ll likely get a bit more from the story if you’re familiar with Greek mythology, although the style of humour used might turn some off the game. If you’re looking for a fun and relatively friendly open world game to play after finishing with your current generation launch games, then this might be the game for you.
Immortals Fenyx Rising was reviewed on an Xbox Series X console with a review copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Stadia and Xbox One. For more information, check out the official website.
- Beautiful world and art style - You can freely customise your character at any time - Plenty of things to do
- Maybe slightly too many things to do - Combat takes too long to become truly interesting - Style of humour used in the story isn't particularly engaging