Immortals Fenyx Rising is looking to take on the same open world template that Breath of the Wild set in place, but with that comes some very high expectations.
One of my biggest pet peeves as someone who writes about video games on a regular basis is being reductive about an upcoming game by simply comparing it to another existing product. Sure, all games tend to borrow ideas from one another, but I really try my best to never say that one game is just a different version of another. There are far better ways to explain and talk about upcoming titles rather than just saying it’s similar to something else that people are likely quite familiar with.
With this in mind, when you hear me say that Immortals Fenyx Rising (formerly known as Gods & Monsters) is a mash-up of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, well, that’s legitimately the best way I can think to describe it. The team at Ubisoft Quebec, which previously worked on Odyssey, has now opted to create its own take on the formula that Nintendo popularized in Breath of the Wild and it’s really not trying to shy away from this fact whatsoever. After having played a little over two hours of Immortals Fenyx Rising prior to the game’s re-reveal today, I definitely enjoyed my time with the title, even though I’m not sure if it can match up to its contemporary’s prowess in certain areas.
The way in which Immortals Fenyx Rising is similar to Breath of the Wild essentially comes in the way of the game’s entire structure. Players are dropped into a vast open-world that is based on Greek mythology as the titular character Fenyx, who possesses a variety of abilities that Link did in his most recent adventure. Fenyx can climb any surface in the game, glide through the air with the use of her wings, and has many of her actions tied to the equivalent of a stamina bar. Meanwhile, the world itself is filled with a number of different one-off puzzles and shrine-like dungeons that players can hop into to earn more items to grow their strength.
Combat is the one area of Immortals Fenyx Rising that looks to offer a bit more depth compared to BOTW. As mentioned, Fenyx has a set of wings at her disposal which allows her to get up into the air to take on foes, depending on if it’s required. Because of this, combat has more verticality than I expected and you can pull off some really cool combos while in the sky. Furthermore, one of Fenyx’s special abilities allows her to essentially hookshot onto enemies in the air and pull herself towards them before dealing out damage with her weapons.
While I do think combat is pretty engaging, I do have to say that most of my enemy encounters resulted in me using the exact same combinations once I learned which ones dealt the most damage. One move that involved Fenyx slamming a hammer into the ground was spammed by me pretty much incessantly, whenever I had the ability power to do so. I’m not sure how much combat mechanics will evolve as the experience goes on in the full version, but they did begin to get somewhat stale in the short time I played the game.
When you’re not doing main quests within Immortals Fenyx Rising, you’ll likely be traversing across the world and finding some random puzzles or dungeons to complete. This aspect of Immortals was the one that I found most compelling in my own time with the game, mainly due to how some of the puzzles are structured.
For instance, one area I came across required me to gather a number of different blue orbs within a certain area and place them into specific pedestals that were nearby. Each orb was hidden away in a different location within this space, but the way in which I could obtain them was left up to me. Some of the orbs were fairly straightforward to acquire, but others were a bit more nebulous. To get them into my possession, I’m pretty sure that I utilized some unnatural techniques that the developers didn’t intend for. Still, these sections proved to me that, much like Breath of the Wild, the way in which you can solve objectives that are presented before you isn’t static whatsoever and allows for experimentation.
That being said, I do have questions about how natural world traversal will be in the full game. One of the aspects of Breath of the Wild that many people lauded was the fact that players basically had to stumble across everything in the game on their own. Conversely, and in typical Ubisoft fashion, Immortals Fenyx Rising features a ton of different waypoints and icons on the game’s larger map signifying locations that you can and should traverse to. I’m not sure if perhaps these locations were merely added to the map for the purposes of this demo or if the full game will feature this, but if it’s the latter, it may discourage players from trying to explore a bit more.
As for where the influence from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey comes in, the DNA from Ubisoft Quebec’s last title is primarily seen in regards to item management and the underlying RPG systems. The way in which you swap between different weapons and gear is essentially pulled directly from the more recent Assassin’s Creed games. Fenyx also has a number of skill trees to upgrade her abilities. While I was locked-in to a specific character build for the purposes of my own demo, what I saw of the upgrade tiers in the game’s menu very much resembled Odyssey.
The one aspect of Immortals Fenyx Rising that I did start to really enjoy as my session went on dealt with the game’s storytelling. Rather than delivering a narrative that sees Fenyx directly interacting with other characters in the world (at least based on what I saw), her tale is being recounted and narrated by both Zeus and Prometheus. The dialogue between the two famous Greek characters is largely tongue-in-cheek and adds some levity to the game as a whole, which I found refreshing. It adds a wholly unique a laid back vibe to the experience and I hope it’s further capitalized upon.
Immortals Fenyx Rising doesn’t seem like a bad game by any means based on what I have seen. In fact, I could definitely see myself pouring a lot of time into it once it drops later this year. That being said, when you’re looking to so blatantly borrow the structure, mechanics, and some systems from one of the most popular games of the past decade, you’re naturally going to have some big shoes to fill. Based on what I have played so far, I’m not sure if Immortals Fenyx Rising can fill those shoes, but I’m interested in seeing how it can improve and iterate on the ideas that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild brought to the table.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is slated to launch later this year on December 3 and will be coming to a number of platforms which includes PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Stadia, and Nintendo Switch.