Immortals Fenyx Rising
This year has turned out to be one of the best years for gaming in some time. With games like Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War, Ghost of Tsushima, and The Last of Us II, my play catalog has been pretty full. When this game was first announced, it was called Gods & Monsters and I wasn't too excited for it since I knew Assassin’s Creed Valhalla would be taking up most of my time.
The game looked to go through a few changes, since it was announced, with a change of its names, better visuals, and a very intriguing story...I soon started to get more focused on what this game was all about. The games I listed above are pretty grim and very serious through most of the titles, but Immortal Fenyx Rising is the complete opposite.
This game takes humor and runs with it, but that is not the only thing it takes, it seems to take a lot of ideas from other titles. That can always be more of a bad thing than good...so is the game familiar to other games like it? Let's Dive in...
IMMORTALS FENYX RISING, FUN BUT WAY TO FAMILIAR
In Immortals Fenyx Rising, you play as Fenyx, a demigod washed ashore after her and the crew of her ship crash. As the only survivor, you soon find out that you are not just lucky, but favored by the Gods to save the world from the titan Typhon, the last son of Gaea and Tartarus. Though we have seen him in a different light during the God of War saga, this version of Typhon is more monstrous and filled with rage than ever. His goal is to destroy all the Gods have created and “cleanse” the world for his greater good.
The story of this game is surprisingly really good and filled with more humor and mythology than we have ever seen from this style of video game out of Ubisoft. The idea of the game was actually based on a bug that occurred in Assassin's Creed Odyssey. In a recent interview with GameInformer, Game Director Scott Phillips had this to say:
“There was a bug at the time where you’d be sailing on your trireme and instead of having a normal human crew, you’d have a crew of cyclops. We knew that was wrong for Odyssey, but it also sparked this idea of, ‘Actually it would be quite cool if we can break those historical bonds and just go full force into mythology.”
The fact that this entire game was based merely on one bug shows the type of minds Ubisoft has at its studios and it really glows throughout the entirety of the game. As you progress through the story, you meet tons of famous figures from greek times and mythology. Since it's your job to save the gods from their impending doom, you can only guess the number of Greek stories that are a part of this world.
As I played, I found myself smiling from ear to ear because with every challenge or area came a new story behind your current task. Even the small things in the game like discovering a new area or finding a certain statue comes with a backstory, but why is this so great? It's great because during the game Prometheus actually narrates the tale of Fenyx to Zeus and it's one of the funniest things about the game.
From Prometheus’s point of view, he sees the world for what it truly is, he feels the pain that the gods have caused the world, but from Zeus’s eyes, everything is just fine and that leads the commentary in a very dark-humor kinda way. These two are not the only humor in the game though, the other gods in the game have been turned into things that are the exact opposite of what they are.
For instance, Aries is the God of War and has always been known for his temper and having no fear...so of course, Typhon decided to turn him into a Chicken. Aphrodite was very jealous and selfish, so she was turned into a tree of life and giving. In all honesty, it seems like Typhon is a dark, but a much-needed hero in this story?
There is nothing more hilarious than talking with Aries as a large chicken and having him scared out of his mind to take on Typhon and his army. Moving on from the Gods and their drama, the commentary from Fenyx is just as hilarious. She is portrayed as the small and weak pup of her family, but she pretty much grows into her confidence pretty quickly as the story progresses. She gets to the point of just telling the gods how it is and to get their asses in gear!
The voice actor for Fenyx, Elana Dunkelman, did an amazing job at really making you feel the life of the character. Just as Melissanthi Mahut did in Assassin's Creed Odyssey (who also voices Athena in this game), Elana really hit a home run with her performance and is a great, light-hearted addition to the already amazing line of great voices in this game.
While the story is really great, one other thing that was great but felt extremely familiar was the overall game. Like the past few Ubisoft titles, Immortal Fenyx Rising is a large open-world game that is filled with a massive amount of enemies, loot, and a beautiful world to explore. Right off the bat, my goal was to explore this world as much as I could. Although I thought that the game was beautiful I couldn’t help but think I was playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild on PS5.
The art style is different, but right after getting into the combat, I was shocked at how familiar the game was to BOTW. The combat is very fast-paced and really feels like it was fine-tuned to feel different from other games. There was a lot about this game, though, that felt like it was ripped right out of other games. The parry system, gliding, godly powers, even the stamina bar that Fenyx has is almost identical to that of BOTW.
When you take on enemies, you face corrupt animals and soldiers in the game, just as you did in BOTW. While walking around the world, you see Typhon’s mountain in the middle of the map, just as Calamity Ganon’s area was in BOTW. You can find mounts in the world and tame them, just like in BOTW. There are even puzzle Vaults in the game that are pretty challenging and reward you with chests, JUST LIKE IN BOTW.
This didn't ruin the game for me, Breath of the Wild was a fantastic title, I just was shocked how much the game felt exactly like BOTW. The game also had some familiarities with the recent entries in the Assassin’s Creed series. You can find unique gear in the world, these armors come with different attributes with some adding an extra percentage to your combat, stamina, and more. If you don't like the look of said gear, you can use a feature that was a great addition to the recent AC games and mask your gear as a different set of gear.
I'm not saying they copied Nintendo and as they say, impersonation is the largest form of flattery. I just know that Ubisoft could have made certain aspects of this game more original instead of making it feel just like other games out there.
A BEAUTIFUL CUSTOM EXPERIENCE OF RANDOMNESS
The world is just drop-dead gorgeous. In every area of this game, I was stunned by the beautiful scenery this sprawling Greek world had to offer. As you unlock new regions in the game, each area has a different look and seems to be based around the god from that region. Aphrodite's area of the map is beautiful and filled with life, Athena’s area is more like a metropolis, Ares is extremely war-ridden, and lastly, Hephaestus’s area is based around smithing.
I thought this was a really cool addition to the game and makes it very easy to identify what area of the world you are in without having to pull up the map. The smallest details in the world really look like there was a lot of love and care put into making this game look fantastic. Playing it on PS5, the game looks like a truly next-generation experience with every aspect of the game.
There are two different modes you can play this game in, the performance mode plays the game at 2275x1280 up to 3840x2160 at a locked 60 fps. In Quality mode, the game pushes a constant true 4K resolution at 30fps. Though I am glad that you can pick what mode you want to play in, I am still ready to be done with these selections.
Both of the next-gen systems are meant to be powerful enough to run games at 4K with a locked 60fps, I know these systems are just in the first few weeks of their life span but this is what we were promised when the consoles were first announced. If we are in the next generation of console gaming, we should be getting games that run just as well as they do on PC.
The customization in the game is fairly good as well. Right as the game starts you have the choice of making Fenyx either male or female. With that comes a customization menu that lets you change the character's hair, skin tone, face, face paint, eye color, and voice. You can access this customization menu at any point in the game by traveling to The Hall of the Gods and taking a seat in Aphrodite's Beauty Chair.
I really liked the customization choices in this game, no matter how you want your Fenyx to look, you can change them to your liking. My only complaint about the customization is the options for face paint, I wish there were more to select from or even the option to change the face paint designs color.
Another aspect of the game I didn’t like was the chest system. This became a huge disappointment to my wife and I since we played the game at the same time. Through my playthrough, I would use Fenyx’s sight to reveal chest locations on the map. Revealing a new chest in the game was pretty cool, especially on PS5, the game would take advantage of the adaptive triggers and when you were close to finding a chest the triggers would vibrate more intensely the closer you were to the chest. Our problem with the loot system is that the chests in our experience were completely randomized.
In open-world games like Assassin’s Creed, when traveling to previous/new areas for missions or just to explore said areas there would always be a new chest to loot. These chests usually have specific loot that is only available in these areas of the map. In Immortals Fenyx Rising, this is not the case, multiple times I would tell my wife where I found certain gear for her to be only met with disappointment when getting to the location. She’d be met with something completely different in the loot chest.
We are really big looters and usually have a certain way of playing these types of games. She and I will play the game around the same time and help each other find rare loot in the game that the other hasn't found just yet. I don't know if this decision to have random chests in the game was intentional, but it was something pretty disappointing since things like unique mounts, and other items in the game are in the same spot no matter your playthrough.
Also, there seems to be no organization in the inventory system. I know I said earlier that the game seemed far too familiar, but this is where I once again feel they should have pulled from the Assassin’s Creed system and made it easier to tell the difference in the rarity of items in your inventory. Additionally, when you head to The Hall of The Gods to upgrade your weapons and gear, you can't upgrade individual items.
Instead, you upgrade the whole class at one time. What was irritating is that even with upgrading the weapons, the progression of the weapons seemed to take far too long to actually see a difference in your damage. To add to that already irritating system, depending on the gear you're wearing, the damage of your weapons or amount of defense that your armor will have changes.
I only found this out while wearing the Pride Gear (lion themed armor) and changing to the Bristled Gear (boar themed armor) right before a boss fight. Before heading into battle, my heavy weapon said it was a level 150, but for some reason, I seemed to barely do damage to the character. After dying, I went to my inventory to find my heavy weapon was only a level 60.
I then switched back to my Pride gear and saw this gear gave my weapon +110 damage. It is cool that you can get certain bonuses to your gear depending on what you have equipped, but I think it would have been easier and more beneficial to give players the ability to upgrade their individual gear and weapons how they want to.
Lastly, to upgrade your items you must gather crystals in the world and again take them back to The Hall of The Gods to upgrade said items. I would rather have the ability to upgrade on the go through your inventory, but I tried to just deal with it. Soon, I found out how irritating it can be when you don't have all the types of crystals you need to upgrade your items.
That's right, you don't just need one type of crystal to upgrade, you need two. I really don't understand the choice to go with this crystal system instead of a typical XP system. It might be because I’m just so set in my ways, but I found this task to be very tedious and time-consuming.
I know it seemed like I changed gears and went from loving the game to hating it but that is not the case. Immortals Fenyx Rising is a charming, fun game that does some things differently and has a story that was really interesting. I think there is still a lot of fun for me to have in this ever-sprawling world, but these small issues really held it back from being one of the best games of the year. I think many gamers will find this title to be something very fun to play, but the familiarity and strange development choice will make it hard to choose this game over the other titles available on the market today.