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Immortals: Fenyx Rising Game revisiting

Revisiting 02 December 2020, 17:22

author: Michael Pajda

Immortals: Fenyx Rising is More Than Assassin's Creed for Kids!

You like Assassin's Creed? Me too, and the latest Assassin's Creed is really good, but... I would love to play something fresh from Ubisoft. Thank the goddess for Immortals!

The review is based on the PC version.

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.

Immortals: Fenyx Rising is Not Assassins Creed for Kids! - picture #1

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.

Immortals: Fenyx Rising is Not Assassins Creed for Kids! - picture #2

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.

Immortals: Fenyx Rising is Not Assassins Creed for Kids! - picture #3

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.

Think halfwit!

Immortals: Fenyx Rising is Not Assassins Creed for Kids! - picture #1

In order to gain a collectable, you have to either complete a challenge that requires both dexterity and wits, or open chests... most often by completing a different kind of challenge (usually simpler). There's a lot of brain-racking – the game brings a choice of environmental puzzles and riddles. It's the same with things called tartar rifts – after jumping into them we move to another dimension, in which we're faced with an obstacle course full of traps which can only be avoided with quick reflexes and your wits about. And it is worth doing it – because thanks to that, we get modifiers and new equipment for our nice hero.

Of course, there is room for combat – quite simplified, but satisfactory and... not very easy at all. We have dodges, light and strong blows, archery, and special attacks – and all of this must be sawn together to effectively combat enemies and not get yourself killed in the process. Combat is therefore diverse and there's proper execution – but it's not quite as satisfying as solving the puzzles! Seriously – I was much more eager to solve logical puzzles than deal with opponents. Maybe it has to do with the fact that combat is toned-down, and monsters don't "die" in a puddle of blood with their limbs chopped off (like enemies in Valhalla), but... sort of dispel in thin air? Fortunately, the puzzle elements were prepared with much more anointing – and it was these elements that made me the happiest.

Immortals: Fenyx Rising is Not Assassins Creed for Kids! - picture #2


Immortals: Fenyx Rising is not the only successful Ubisoftu experiment. The company has a few other games to its credit, in which the developers have left their comfort zone and... It definitely worked out well for them. Great examples of this are For Honor – a unique dueling game, that you can still have fun in today – or Valiant Hearts (which focuses on educational values and an armed conflict that's not as exploited as some of them). It is only a pity that – despite the fact that the developers have the ideas and the willingness to create something different than the next installments of Assassin's Creed – the new projects are more of one-time wonders, rather than IPs that will be firmly embedded in the world of electronic entertainment. It seems Immortals: Fenyx Rising will meet exactly the same fate – and it's a pity, because it could finally become something more than a diversion. And Ubisoft can surely afford it – we're looking forward to more original IPs!

This isn't Assassin's Creed lite!

Saying that Immortals: Fenyx Rising is a poor-man's Assassin's Creed is completely wrong. Ubisoft's new production offers a surprisingly satisfying intellectual challenge with elements of arcade, and good combat; above that, it has a beautifully created world, and a pleasant storyline. However, the youngest players may have problems finishing the game – so it's also a great production to play with kids. Despite all the comparisons to Ubisoft's most famous franchise, it's laudable that the creators are trying something different (but not necessarily new) – and in fact, the latest Ubisoft game is something different from Assassin's Creed.

Fans of Ubisoft's general approach to open-world games will feel at home, although the emphasis shifts from fighting and killing to dexterity and puzzles. Fans of Zelda should also love Immortals: Fenyx Rising, as it's a decent variation on Breath of the Wild available for other platforms than Switch. Finally, younger players will also be delighted – they get a proper Ubisoft open-world that they can play with older players (who, on the other hand, won't find the game infantile). Overall, everyone should be satisfied – because the gameplay is very pleasant. Just give the game a chance and don't wave it off as a fairy-tale for kids. It's not like that at all – it's not a stripped-down Assassin Creed for kids. Thinking about Immortals: Fenyx Rising in these categories is a serious mistake!

Michael Pajda | Gamepressure.com

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