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It’s rare for a game from a triple-A publisher to wear its inspiration so boldly on its sleeve.
When homage works, it serves to pay tribute to that which came before it, but also implement what the industry has learned in the time since. When it’s done poorly, it makes the player wish they were playing the inspiration, rather than the cover version.
The later is true for Immortals Fenyx Rising.
It’s difficult to last ten minutes without thinking to yourself “this is a bit like Breath Of The Wild”. As you climb sheer cliff faces you stamina will slowly drain, you’ll counter enemies by dodging to their side as time slows down to allow for a resposte, you’ll even climb a tower and drop pins on a vast, colourful map.
There’s a looming threat emanating from a pink volcano in the centre of the map. There are four Gods you need to find in order to unlock their power and defeat the final threat. It’d be quicker to list the ways this game isn’t a stale cover version of Breath of The Wild, but then it’d be a list of ways it’s like Ubisoft stable-mate Assassin’s Creed.
After the shock of how much it’s paying tribute wears off, Immortals Fenyx Rising is a totally fine action adventure game. It feels somewhat dated, especially as it rides the line between generations, but there’s fun to be had in gliding around the map’s various biomes and completing challenges.
You’ll find chests guarded by groups of marauding enemies. You’ll find vaults, each of which have their own self contained combat or puzzle challenge. You may be thinking to yourself, “surely it can’t be that similar to Zelda”, we thought the same until we unlocked a power which allowed us to manipulate items with a magnet likeability.
Narratively, the game is a unique take on the Greek pantheon, as told by Zeus and Prometheus. Every single character is written like they’re supposed to be the “funny one”. This leads to every second line being a quip or a pop culture reference, few of which lead to a laugh.
A reimagined take on the Greek Gods could have proved interesting, but unfortunately, a better written take on these characters released only a few months ago in Super Giant’s Hades. This means that even the game’s plot and characters are subject to the feeling that we’ve seen this done recently, and better.
“It’d be quicker to list the ways this game isn’t a stale cover version of Breath of The Wild, but then it’d be a list of ways it’s like Ubisoft stable-mate Assassin’s Creed.”
Respite from Deja Vu is found when basking in the game’s visuals, which are by far its strongest point, but this also comes with a caveat. The landscapes are majestic and a lengthy level of detail in the terrain gives the world a great sense of depth.
You won’t spend much time looking at the map as the game does a good job of having visually memorable landmarks to navigate by. Fenyx Rising is also very colourful: the game shines on an HDR display and is tailor-made for the robust photo mode the game provides.
However, the character designs let the overall aesthetic down massively. Dead behind the eyes, oddly proportioned and bland, Fenyx, the protagonist lacks any semblance of personality. The Greek Gods themselves are slightly more interesting, but the strange proportion choices and lack of facial emotion while speaking makes cutscenes reminiscent of Team America: World Police.
The game’s combat is enjoyable, although not terribly deep. Attacks are broken up between your sword, axe and bow, with some divine powers thrown in to mix up the action. While taking down regular enemies is fun, especially following a well timed dodge, there’s a lack of depth due to few special moves being unlocked from the beginning, and the currency to unlock said moves being more annoying than rewarding to acquire.
It feels like a traditional levelling system would have benefitted here. Instead moves, health, stamina and weapon upgrades are all purchased separately by several unique currencies that feel clumsy.
The game’s puzzle solving is interesting for the first few hours until it’s clear that there are around five concepts that are used ad nauseam. While some of the game’s longer puzzle dungeons include creative and well thought out sequences, plenty others will have you fighting with the game’s controls to execute the solution.
“The only saving grace is that some of the elements it lifts from much better games are recreated adequately, so fans of those titles might find some of the fun of going to see a cover band of your favourite artist.”
The frustration of knowing you’re right, but being unable to will the cumbersome mechanics into following instructions is regular. The game also has a penchant for having a puzzle dungeon go on just a bit too long, something that interrupts an otherwise enjoyable pacing. The shorter compartmentalised missions make it simple to float between light side content and the more in-depth dungeons.
The closing hour and final boss of Immortals Fenyx Rising don’t only utterly annihilate the pace by forcing half an hour of utterly tedious puzzle-solving, the final fight is cheap, endless and infuriating. The closing battle is significantly more of a challenge then anything game has to offer previously, not due to sophisticated AI or interesting attack patterns, but due to the boss having a comically large amount of health, which even fully upgraded weapons barely dent.
Not only is the boss fight unjustifiably long, but if you die you’re forced to watch several unskippable cutscenes that permeate the fight. You are warned prior to entering the boss’s lair that there is a point of no return, but there’s a full hour of game left before you even enter the fight, so if you reach it and realise you’re under levelled, you have to relinquish all that progress to return to the open world.
It’s indicative of a game that loves to waste your time. Puzzle rooms that are consistently too long, fighting that’s fine but unrewarding, a story that’s dull, stilted voice acting and unsettling character designs will have you zoning out and a final reveal that’s telegraphed from the opening hour, it’s a game that does little to engage you.
The only saving grace is that some of the elements it lifts from much better games are recreated adequately, so fans of those titles might find some of the fun of going to see a cover band of your favourite artist. You’ve likely not only played Immortals Fenyx Rising before, you’d played a better version of it.
- Game director
- Scott Phillips
Derivative and dull, Immortals Fenyx Rising’s great visuals can’t make up for a consistently bland experience
- Environments are visually stunning
- Derivative to the point of parody
- Bland, overlong story
- Terrible closing hour