Immortals Fenyx Rising Review

Matt Lorrigan

Ubisoft is known for creating vast open worlds based on historical civilisations in its Assassin’s Creed series, whether that’s the ancient desert lands of Egypt or the damp Viking-raided shores of Middle Ages England. Thousands of hours of research go into creating these worlds filled with history, lore and myth, but what happens when it’s all over and the game has shipped? Well, in the case of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the development team at Ubisoft Quebec managed to convince Ubisoft to create a whole new IP to utilise this newfound knowledge of Greek mythology with Immortals Fenyx Rising.

Formerly known as Gods & Monsters, Immortals Fenyx Rising takes place in a world where Greek myth isn’t myth at all, but is instead very real. Fenyx, your customisable protagonist, is washed up onto the Golden Isle, an island split into distinct biomes based on different Greek gods. After learning the ropes of climbing, combat and puzzle solving in the game’s tutorial area, you’re winged away to the vast open world of the main island, and let loose to complete the game’s objectives in any order you want. 


Watching Fenyx climbing a statue or riding a horse in the opening hours, fans of the Assassin’s Creed games could easily be forgiven for thinking that Immortals Fenyx Rising plays very similarly to Ubisoft’s biggest series. However, Immortals Fenyx Rising actually pulls heavily from a more recent behemoth in the open world genre - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - and it clearly isn’t shy about it.

From the upgradeable stamina bar that restricts your climbing and gliding, to the self-contained puzzle rooms of the Vaults of Tarturus, the similarities are instantly clear to anyone who has put a lot of time into Nintendo’s open-world masterpiece. This is by no means a bad thing, though, and Immortals Fenyx Rising takes the open-air structure of Breath of the Wild and builds something unique and incredibly enjoyable upon it.

From the moment Fenyx earns their wings and is let off the leash, it would be easy enough to make a beeline for the main objective markers and breeze through the story, but luckily the open world of the Golden Isle is absolutely littered with distractions to keep you off the beaten track. Whether it’s a combat challenge leading to a chest, or a brain-teasing archery puzzle, or the glint of some rare health-upgrading Ambrosia off in the distance, it’s nearly impossible to travel anywhere in a straight line without finding something fun to do that takes you off course.

Immortals Fenyx Rising’s gameplay is split into three main categories - exploration, combat and puzzles - and you’ll find yourself jumping between the three in a loop that makes it genuinely difficult to put down at times. Early on, combat can feel a little limited, but by the time you’ve upgraded  a few of your moves and begun to unlock some of the god abilities, such as Ares’ Wrath and Hephaestus’ Hammer, it becomes wonderfully rewarding to take out a large group of mythical foes with a combination of parries, dodges, axe swings, sword combos, and precision arrow headshots.


Exploration works wonderfully, with Fenyx’s climbing and gliding able to be upgraded over the course of the game, making the platforming easier and opening up more secrets and items over time. But it’s the puzzles which serve as the most surprisingly enjoyable aspect of Immortals Fenyx Rising. On the Golden Isle itself, you’ll come across dozens upon dozens of environmental puzzles which offer a nice respite from the fast-paced combat elsewhere. Meanwhile, down in the Vaults of Tarturus, players are faced with unique bite-sized dungeons, many of which contain some of the best puzzles and challenges we’ve found in a game in recent memory. Not all of them are winners, but when they’re good, they’re really good.

The fact that all of these individual pieces are well executed is what makes the gameplay loop work so well, as you move from combat to exploration to puzzle and back again, but what makes Immortals Fenyx Rising special is its setting. The island’s biomes are distinct and unique - Aphrodite’s area is a gorgeous Studio Ghibli-esque land of lush nature, while Ares’ den is a war-torn battlefield that takes the term “scorched earth” very literally. Everywhere you look, you’ll find statues to great gods like Athena or ancient beasts like the Hydra or Cerberus.

The game is a love letter to Greek mythology, and nowhere is that more clear than in its narrators. From beginning to end, Fenyx’s adventure is narrated by Greek gods Zeus and Prometheus, and it’s both frequently very funny and surprisingly educational. In Immortals’ take on Greek myth, Zeus is somewhat of a meathead and a bully, while Prometheus is a bit of a bookworm, and it creates a great double act as Prometheus attempts to recall Fenyx’s tale to Zeus. The two will often interject with some obscure story from Greek mythology or Zeus’ opinions on mortals or his children. 


Even with my limited knowledge on the subject, I found myself constantly chuckling, and I’m sure those who studied the classics will have a fantastic time with it. Comedy is hard to get right in games, but the writing is good enough here that it absolutely pulls it off, with a tone that is often reminiscent of some of the best noughties platformers like Ratchet & Clank or Jak & Daxter.

It doesn’t hurt that the game looks and sounds lovely. The world is popping with colour, and the painterly Miyazaki-style art design works wonderfully to create an epic world to get lost in, running at a silky smooth 60FPS on Xbox Series X. The sound design is great, as well, with Gareth Coker of Ori and the Will of the Wisps fame providing a soundtrack that ramps up during the intense moments and fades into the background when you’re engaging in exploration.

None of this is to say that Immortals Fenyx Rising doesn’t have its issues. While the Golden Isle is gorgeous, it can occasionally feel a bit empty, with a distinct lack of NPCs to really flesh out the world. Controls can be a bit fiddly, especially as you unlock more abilities, which can lead to unfair deaths in combat or puzzles you need to restart. And while the voice acting is pretty good, the cut-scenes and general presentation of the story can feel a little low-budget compared to other modern titles.

Immortals Fenyx Rising is a strange beast, then. Much of it feels very familiar, and you won’t find many things here that haven’t been done before. Yet, it manages to pull together so many different aspects with such proficiency and love for the source material that it’s impossible not to simply enjoy soaking it all up, in an adventure worthy of the Greek heroes of old.

Immortals Fenyx Rising

Immortals Fenyx Rising is an epic and frequently funny adventure worthy of the Greek myths that inspired it.

Form widget
85%
Audio
80%

Gareth Coker's score is wonderfully epic, if occasionally a bit muted during the game's quieter sections, while the voice acting is mostly good as well.

Visuals
85%

Wonderful watercolour-style visuals lends the game's open world and otherworldly and mythical feel. However, the game's cut-scenes can feel a little budget at times.

Playability
80%

Combat is really crisp and responsive, exploration is fun and the puzzles are mostly great, but the controls can be quite fiddly at times.

Delivery
85%

Immortals Fenyx Rising offers up a world full of things to do and secrets to discover, delivering players lots of bite-sized chunks of fun throughout its entire 25-35 hour run time.

Achievements
85%

A really nice list that will have you completing every quest, hunting down every collectible and solving every puzzle. There's a few funny references in there for good measure, too!

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