Immortals Fenyx Rising Preview
Immortals Fenyx Rising is a bland thing to name your game. Epic Noun: Exciting Action is undoubtedly the naming convention favoured by bean counters here in 2020, a design-by-committee methodology toxic to imagination. The original title – Gods and Monsters – was far more creative and intriguing. Oh no, I thought, have the shudder market researchers got their mitts on this product? Is it going to be the sort of safe, tolerable, and ultimately forgettable product literally no one is ever asking for? After a couple of hours with the game, I’m mostly convinced that it’s fun.
You play as Fenyx: a completely customizable and entirely mortal character tasked with saving the Gods of Greek Mythology. I saw the leaks, and yes, there’s a whole lot of Breath of the Wild to be found here. There’s a vast open world filled with enemies, puzzles, challenges, and diverse traversal. The art is colorful and vibrant, while the almighty stamina meter governs most actions. But it’s not entirely what I expected.
Fenyx’s adventure is narrated by Zeus, king of the Gods, and Prometheus, a Titan believed to have created humans from clay. The thing is, it’s not at all serious. The writing is laced with pop culture references and banter between the gods ala Borderlands, but it wasn’t entirely unwelcome. Surprising, to be sure, but at least somewhat charming. Within seconds of starting the demo, Zeus is already wisecracking about wanting a skip button to get to the action quicker. It kind of works!
Assassin’s Creed Guts
In feel, it’s obvious that the bones of Immortals has come from the Assassin’s Creed series. Button mapping and general combat flow are similar to the recent AC titles, but with powers being governed by stamina rather than cooldown meters. Chaining together sword, axe, and bow attacks alongside godly powers, Fenyx is a rather dynamic fighter. Well timed dodges slow time, while air combos and juggles add some much needed variety to things. It’s easy enough to understand, but I’m guessing the challenge will be in achieving mastery. It’s the type of game where there will undoubtedly be hidden encounters with 16 dinosaur size Minotaurs trying to stomp you. There’s also a stagger mechanic that reminds me of the one found in FF7 Remake, and from this brief glimpse it looks like speccing Fenyx out to favour particular play styles will be a big part of the game’s strategy.
The variety of beasts was pretty outstanding. Greek favorites like Medusa and Minotaurs are plentiful, and their designs are a cool balance between cartoonish and terrifying. Even regular animals like Lions and Bears have fun design twists, while combat with each of them is more than a mash fest.
We didn’t get much of a look at the upgrades and RPG-lite elements of the game, but I did extensively explore the available land mass. As I said before, it’s very Breath of the Wild, though not as utterly seamless as that game was. You can climb most surfaces with no trouble provided you have the stamina, though I was occasionally held back by Fenyx failing to clamber up onto a ledge or not recognizing my inputs quite right. It’s the sort of thing that could be sorted out by launch, but it served as a reminder of Assassin’s Creed’s infamous limitations.
The section we played was from the midgame, and so stamina was in strong supply… theoretically. Flying gulps down blue bars like a frat boy playing beer pong, making the sense of freedom in the air more limited than I wanted. There are stamina potions though, so extending a flight is at least possible.
Littered around the map are vaults that reminded me of Super Mario Odyssey’s challenge rooms. Separated from the Greek world, these mini areas tested my traversal skills, combat prowess, puzzle solving, and… my pinball skills. Yes, I played giant ancient pinball in a vault, and didn’t hate it. The vaults were some of the most fun I had while playing, so hopefully the full game has a bunch of weird ones to keep players entertained.
Looking back on what I’ve written above, I said Immortals Fenyx Rising reminds me of a slough of other games. Usually I’d find that to be a problem, but Immortals is striking an interesting balance. It’s not directly aping any single thing – except maybe Breath of the Wild – instead focusing on using bits and pieces from lots of places to make something interesting.
We’ll need to see a heck of lot more before giving a verdict, but a couple of hours inside Greek mythology left me feeling optimistic about Immortals Fenyx Rising. If the weird humor lands, and Ubisoft Quebec has struck the right balance between colorful art and challenging gameplay, Immortals could find itself with a big fanbase later this year.