[Review] Immortals Fenyx Rising
Posted on November 30, 2020 by Dennis Gagliardotto(@LyonHart_) in Reviews, Switch
Release date: December 3, 2020
If there’s anything Ubisoft should be commended for, it’s the company’s ambition to constantly create new IP and expand them into ongoing franchises. Ubisoft is one of the few publishers out there that has a steady output from numerous in-house studios that tend to push new ideas forward with a wide array of properties. Immortals Fenyx Rising – which debuted as Gods & Monsters in 2019 – continues that trend with an open-world game featuring an experience that’s equal parts wholesome and dramatic, humorous yet tumultuous, and adventurous and inviting. It fine tunes the open-world experience and makes everything feel worthwhile and seamless, cutting the bloat other games in the genre tend to find themselves suffering from. Immortals Fenyx Rising provides a beautiful world within the Golden Isles that feels like a breath of fresh air.
Zeus and Prometheus tell the story of Fenyx, the main protagonist that can either be seen as she has been in all the promotional material, or customized to the player’s liking through a multitude of hairstyles, colors, eyes, facial features, and more. Typhon has taken over the Golden Isles and a majority of the people that inhabited the place have turned to stone. A looming evil peers over the Golden Isle, and throughout your time of restoring things back to where they were, you’ll meet other gods and goddesses along the way to aid and guide you to becoming more powerful and acquire enough strength to bring things back to normal.
After waking up from being shipwrecked, the game cleverly puts you through a tutorial amidst the narrative without making it feel like a stop-and-go repetition some games have with invasive textboxes and the sort – everything happens fluidly as Zeus and Prometheus narrate, humor, and surprise the player as you essentially learn to wield weapons and become a warrior again, trying to figure out what happened to the people around you as most have been turned to stone. The opening 1-2 hours of the game will take you through various battles and getting acquainted with how the puzzles work and what various icons and locations do and are for. Eventually this all leads up to you going to an area known as the Hall of Gods, which is where you’ll be able to do most of your customization and upgrading, as well as being able to change the character you’ve customized once again at any given moment so you never have to stick with one look in case you’d like to change things up a bit. The game is designed well enough where you’ll want to come back here periodically for upgrades, and you’ll naturally be visiting the place thanks to its location which seamlessly connects most of the regions.
Immediate comparisons to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Zelda are natural as Immortals Fenyx Rising is developed by the same team that made Ubisoft’s prior Greek epic and a lot of the aesthetic and game design can clearly be seen as an inspiration from Breath of the Wild. However, one of the most important things despite this is that this title wants to make you feel as comfortable as possible with a wide array of customization and accessibility options to fine-tune the experience to your liking, including a Story Mode-specific difficulty mode to help players get through the funny but equally adventurous and fantastic storytelling of Ubisoft’s new fantasy venture. Transmogrification makes it so anything you equip can take the appearance of another piece of armor or design you prefer instead, and also comes with a set the player can be left to find throughout a multitude of areas throughout the Golden Isles where you’ll delve into puzzle-specific areas both in the under and overworld for rewards that can include not only armor but weapons and materials and the sort. Everything in Immortals Fenyx Rising makes sure it has a purpose and feels rewarding, and as you collect Zeus’s Lightning for completing these trials as well as Ambrosia, coins, and more, these can all be utilized in a number of ways to help make the game more attuned to your style of play by upgrading and unlocking skill sets through an easy-to-read tree that helps enhance your weapons, abilities, passives and buffs, as well as learning new techniques that help throughout combat and in general.
Combat is also fluid and has an easy to use system that includes even more abilities you’ll unlock over time through your playthrough to unleash extremely powerful blows on enemies. Dodges feel immediate and effective, light and heavy attacks can be alternated through the right-side triggers, and then holding the left shoulder button allows for more special moves that include grabbing/holding/throwing large objects through magical bracers as well as special abilities where you can spawn and smash down huge hammers, spears from underground, or even dash forward in a flash with a shield ramming your enemies. With each region having its own sort of story and theme behind it, abilities will all become effective for myriad reasons and some will be more useful than others depending on the situations you find yourself in. The “grind” that slightly plagued Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and felt almost unnecessary due to the game’s level-scaling is practically gone, and you’re usually able to figure out which enemies you can and cannot handle rather quickly by clever design choices similar to Breath of the Wild that would have some enemies contain different hues or be a lot more adept to combat. While in theory you could just hack-and-slash your way to victory in most cases, the game does put more of an emphasis on the player being more strategic in their fights and utilizing all of the abilities made available to them to ensure the most optimal chance of survival and overcoming your foes. The system and the overall design of Immortals Fenyx Rising feels intuitive and is just, in summation, so smart. Everything feels right, everything feels clever, and everything feels so beautiful and new.
After going hands-on with the PC version of Immortals Fenyx Rising in September, I’ve been anticipating the Switch version just to see how it would look and perform, and thankfully it’s held up well. It won’t give you 60 frames per second and graphical prowess, but the level of portability attached to a perfectly playable state of the game that still retains a level of detail, albeit lower, makes it one of the more impressive open-world titles Switch has to offer. Despite its impressive specs though, there were sacrifices to get it running. Immediate differences are seen with much lower draw-distances, less foliage and detail in lighting and shading, as well as a lower resolution that looks similar in both handheld and docked mode. However, the core experience is still there and perfectly enjoyable, with most sacrifices being purely technical and nothing overly egregious. While I don’t think Switch is the ideal platform for those that have a choice for other systems, it especially becomes a fantastic pick if you do intend on buying multiple copies of it to play across other preferred systems. If it is your only choice, you can purchase Immortals Fenyx Rising with confidence knowing you’re still getting a spectacular experience with a beautiful new outlook and interpretation on Greek mythology.
Immortals Fenyx Rising also is one of the few new games that adds itself to the lineup of compatibility with Ubisoft Connect that can allow for seamless cross-progression. That means you can pick up right where you left off so long as you own a copy of the game on other platforms. Going seamlessly between PC and Switch or over to Xbox and Stadia gives user choice and flexibility in how and where you play Immortals Fenyx Rising, and it’s a feature I’ve dreamt about for years.
Let it be known that despite all the comparisons since its initial reveal as Gods & Monsters, Immortals Fenyx Rising very much has its own identity and feels like the perfect amalgamation of some of the best parts of an open-world game where the team at Ubisoft Quebec has made every part of the Golden Isle feel as wonderous as it is magical in a living, breathing world where its vibrancy and art direction make it accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages, and memorable on top of that. It’s an immensely exciting time for the new property, and I only hope that once everyone can finally get their hands on the game that others will see just how special and inviting Immortals Fenyx Rising truly is, regardless of where you’re playing it. It’s a game that also lends itself nicely to being a portable adventure in addition to an epic experience on next-gen consoles and PC platforms, so with the ability to cross-save, Immortals Fenyx Rising is a journey that will undoubtedly stay with you whenever and wherever you are at home or on-the-go thanks to the Switch. From the characters to the story to the design of the world and the puzzles, those with an imagination and a taste for fantasy epics and love Greek mythology will have a beautiful amusement park to play in on the Golden Isle with Immortals Fenyx Rising.
Immortals Fenyx Rising takes the best parts of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Breath of the Wild and meshes them together in a beautiful amalgam of Greek mythology, stunning visuals, and just overall intuitive and immersive design. Ubisoft trimmed the fat we sometimes see negatively impact open-world titles to create a more concise experience that I truly believe will stick with tons of players and everyone has had time to really sit and dive in. Immortals Fenyx Rising feels special, and it’s the sort of game I believe Ubisoft has needed for quite some time, bringing back the magic and wonderment of what made them so great in the first place. The Switch version holds up well and the sacrifices made for it to run on the platform don’t hinder the ability to truly and fully enjoy what the game has to offer. What you’re left with is a fantastic mythological experience filled with wonderment and magic.
Review copy provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.