It’s safe to say that most, if not all of Ubisoft’s premier open-world properties are adult-oriented.
Sure, there are probably lots of little Timmys and Tammys out there enjoying the latest Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs titles because their parents don’t really understand that video games have changed over the years, but they’re really not suitable for kids. Immortals Fenyx Rising, however, Ubisoft’s latest open-world epic with a bold and colourful art style, is. Though like a Disney film it’s also got its fair share of risqué humour that will go over most kids’ heads. Basically, it’s fun for the whole family.
Narrated by Prometheus and Zeus, Immortals Fenyx Rising tells a story of warring gods. Previously cast into the underworld by Zeus, the evil Typhon is back. Not happy with turning pretty much every human within the surrounding lands into stone, he’s also corrupted the gods that stood against him. And so it comes down to you, as Fenyx, to deal with the nefarious Typhon. Fresh off a boat and just learning of the whole mess, you are the last hope, and by helping the gods recover their essence, maybe Typhon can be stopped. And by doing so, maybe those turned to stone can be brought back to life again.
As a human, there’s nothing particularly special about Fenyx. They’re competent with a sword, however, and so when faced with danger they’re more than capable of looking after themselves. It isn’t long until Fenyx happens upon a pair of strange but damaged wings, allowing them to double jump. And when fixed, they can even allow them to glide great distances. Fenyx’s best, most godlike skills, however, need to be earned, and that’s something that can only be done once you’ve progressed past the game’s fairly lengthy intro and made the Hall of the Gods your base.
Anyone that has played a modern Assassin’s Creed game will feel right at home with Immortals Fenyx Rising. It presents players with a huge open world to explore, absolutely teeming with enemies to defeat, loot to plunder, and missions to complete. But first, you need to get the lay of the land. Each of the regions of the map available to you in Immortals Fenyx Rising is initially covered by clouds, and so you’ll need to climb grand structures and scout each area to get an idea of the opportunities that await you there. The order in which you explore the lands is up to you – choice is high up on the agenda here. You might even decide to unveil them all first before properly jumping into the game’s story. It’s truly up to you.
Whatever you choose, your first few hours with Immortals Fenyx Rising might possibly be flaky. Without many combat skills under your belt, battles can quickly become repetitive. Also, with your equipment being basic and your health and stamina levels low, you might sometimes wander into battles that you simply can’t win. It can become frustrating. Take some time to learn some new skills and power yourself up, though, and things soon fall into place. It’s important to note that there are also multiple difficulty levels to switch between, which can make those early hours go by a little more swimmingly.
What’s notable about Immortals Fenyx Rising is its emphasis on puzzles. You’ll find puzzles everywhere, and by solving them you’ll generally be rewarded for your efforts. You might gain access to a chest, for example, which may contain a weapon, a piece of armour, or simply some ingredients for crafting potions. Adamantine Shards used to upgrade your equipment can be obtained from chests, too. When it comes to solving more challenging mythic puzzles, however, your reward is being able to reach into a strange portal, pulling out some Coins of Charon, which are vital to unlocking new skills and enhancing them.
Much like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Immortal Fenyx Rising‘s map is abundant with dungeons, in this case called Vaults of Tartaros. The majority of these will truly challenge your puzzle solving skills. You’ll find yourself placing objects on pressure pads, manoeuvring giant balls into receptacles, shooting at targets, and a whole lot more. Some Vaults will present you with combat challenges, too, or have you facing off against fearsome bosses, such as a multi-headed Hydra. Your reward for completing them is most often a spark of Zeus’ lightning, used to upgrade your stamina, though each Vault also has a chest for you to plunder should you be able to find it.
The Breath of the Wild similarities don’t end there, either. The art style of the environment is also very reminiscent, as well as the game’s stamina system. While in an Assassin’s Creed game you can climb any structure without worrying about your character’s stamina, here, it’s something you always have to keep in mind. You might find yourself at a cliff that you simply know you can’t make it safely to the top of, for example, so will have to find another way around. That is unless you make use of a stamina potion or two, which can instantly refill a number of stamina chunks. In addition to health potions, you can concoct potions that provide offensive and defensive bonuses, too.
Like most Ubisoft open world games, the amount of things to see and do in Immortals Fenyx Rising can feel overwhelming at times. Some aspects, such as collecting Adamantine Shards to upgrade your character’s equipment, can feel a little grindy, too. On the whole though, it’s a thoroughly engrossing affair that rewards players who take their time with it. You can head straight through the story missions if you want, lowering the difficulty to iron out any bumps along the way, but your adventure won’t feel quite so grand. Instead, it’s better to take your time and explore. As your character develops so does the fun, making everything from combat to puzzle solving that bit more engaging.
It’s likely that those who take a chance on Immortals Fenyx Rising will be pleasantly surprised, especially once they’ve got past its opening handful of hours and developed their character a little. While it may seem a little basic at first, and players may wander into encounters that they’re really not prepared for, it soon settles down into a hugely enjoyable historical romp that is suitable for all ages and skill levels. The cutesy art style is just the icing on the cake, drawing you into a world that is charming and vibrant. With its clear Breath of the Wild inspirations, Ubisoft’s Immortals Fenyx Rising might just be the surprise hit of the year.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, PC and Stadia. We reviewed it on PS5 with a code provided by the game’s publisher.