Immortals: Fenyx Rising has received considerable media coverage on a few occasions, mainly in the context of the renaming of the game from Gods & Monsters (provoked by a legal battle with the energy drinks producer); however, the media never seemed to thrilled. This isn't surprising if we consider that at the time when we were getting ready to play Immortals, Ubisoft was concerned with much larger releases: Watch Dogs Legion and Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Ubisoft clearly focused on promoting these two premieres, rendering their third most important game of Q4 2020 a sort of an unwanted child. It's a pity because Immortals: Fenyx Rising deserves a much bigger attention!
Long before the release, the game was dubbed "the Assassin's Creed for Dummies." However, each coin has two sides and it's no different with Immortals: Fenyx Rising. Ubisoft's new IP draws handfuls from Assassin's Creed both in terms of audiovisuals, and gameplay, so there's quite a few elements that will seem familiar. Recycling? A bit but even if such criticism of Immortals: Fenyx Rising is somewhat valid, we have to recognize that the game is betting on a number of original solutions, or giving an interesting spin to the existing ones. Thanks to this I:FR is fresh, and when chewing another bite of this delicious meal, you don't have the impression that it's been reheated which unfortunately can happen to you with AC: Origins, Odyssey and Valhalla.
Mythology in a nutshell
The plot, although simple and clearly tailored to a younger audience, is not trivial at all. The antagonist is Tiphon, a terrible monster that escaped from captivity and stole the essence from Greek gods. This turns them into the complete opposites of themselves Ares, the proud god of war, turns into a... cowardly cock. Of course, Tiphon did it to knock them off the Olympus and take the whole land to himself. Did I mention that all people have also been turned to stone, and the creatures we encounter on the way are, in the vast majority, dark minions of the nemesis? Under these circumstances, Zeus meets with Prometheus to ask him for help in the fight against Typhon and he begins to tell the story of the only man who can save the gods the eponymous Phoenix.
Surprisingly, the narrative is one of three pillars of gameplay, and all of them have a significant impact on the shape of the game. How is that? Apart from the cut-scenes, the story is told in context of the current actions of the protagonist, which are narrated by Prometheus and Zeus. Prometheus tries to make the story of Fenyx's sound like a poetic myth, colorful and lavish with descriptions, but Zeus nullifies the effect with unbridled and ambivalent allusions and jokes. Yes, Zeus is very cringeworthy the creators sometimes tried obscuring more adult humor so that kids won't get it, which often ends up rather embarassing but the conversations are overall pleasant to listen to, and when it comes down to actual "story-telling," it's difficult to find a worthy opponent to Immortals: Fenyx Rising.
A beautiful, open world
But this is not the only advantage of the game. The creators experiment with their own ideas, breathing fresh air into the proven formula. For example, the eagle vision was replaced with a system that works almost the same way as in Assassin's Creed series revealing mission objectives, but from FPP, rather than bird's view. It's a small change on paper, but it's significance in the game is great.
It's similar with free running the hero can climb walls etc., but only for a certain amount of time, measured with endurance bar almost identical as in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (supposedly imitation is the highest form of recognition, right?) so forget about *constant* climbing, because this is not Assassin's Creed! Endurance is also used in travelling especially by air, with the use of wings allowing free descent (glider from Breath of the Wild...?) The world of the game has also been tampered with.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising brings a beautiful realm but this is the single most consistent quality of Ubisoft games. We could stop here, because when it comes to sandboxes, Ubisoft really gets it right almost every time, giving us compelling worlds that truly encourage exploration. Even in this respect, however, the new game of the French developer is completely different from Assassin's Creed as well the map is several times smaller and divided into several extremely different biomes separated by hard borders without any gradient. It looks strange at first glance, but it fits the specific (though really pleasing) graphic style.
This conventional approach to the world also allowed the creators to pack it with various attractions that's why it's worth to climb to higher points and use the special vision instead of synchronization (which, however, can also be done on several points), thanks to which we can manually track interesting points on the map.