So, it’s taken me a while to get around to this next recommendation, largely because I’ve been going back and forth over whether Immortals Fenyx Rising (that name really needs a “—” or a “:” after the “Immortals”…) is actually worthy of a recommendation.
Basically, my final answer is a resounding “eh.”
Fundamentally, Fenyx Rising isn’t a bad game, but I’m not sure how often I’ve actually had fun while playing it. Sure, it’s a fairly novel spin on Classical mythology, but there’s not really anything else novel about it.
There isn’t really anything in Fenyx Rising that you haven’t seen done (better) in about a million other games. That’s to be expected, given that Ubisoft hasn’t really been shy about the fact that the game is their answer to Breath of the Wild.
And, honestly, I’m not even mad that they’re cribbing from Breath of the Wild so shamelessly. Breath of the Wild is the biggest shakeup to the Zelda formula since Ocarina and a lot of people are legitimately calling it the best game ever. Of course Ubisoft wants to get it on that action. Any video game studio would. Now, the downside is that Fenyx Rising comes across as competent, but soulless and cynical.
Now, that’s probably as much negativity as I want to write. I’m not trying to paint Fenyx Rising as a bad game (it’s not), I just want to make it clear that I have some not insubstantial issues with it — as, to be fair, I do with plenty of games I’ve enjoyed.
So, let’s get to the good parts.
Firstwise, I love the Greco-Roman mythology setting — of course I do, I have a Classics MA from the glorious University of Ottawa (go, Horses!). The actual ingame world feels pretty empty and devoid of life, but the world-building and the gameification of the mythological source material is well-executed.
The plot of the game (more on that later) is framed as Prometheus relaying your character’s journey as a story to Zeus, so they keep up a pretty funny running commentary. Sometimes, Zeus gets bored and tries to hijack telling the story, which actually affects the gameplay most of the time it happens.
The gameplay, especially the combat, is pretty much identical to any of the recent Assassin’s Creed games, though the fact that you’re a super-powered demigod opens up some pretty cool nuances in the gameplay. The most meaningful (and most fun) being the fact that you get a pair of magic wings that let you fly across the game’s overworld.
Well, technically, they let you glide.
Either way, it’s probably the game’s most interesting and most frequently-used gimmick.
The story, such as it is, is serviceable. It’s no better or worse than the stories tend to be in most open-world adventure games, because, let’s fact it, the point of open-world adventure games isn’t the story. The monster Typhon has imprisoned all the gods (something that is not, in fact, without precedent in the source myths) and you have to go rescue them and beat up Typhon.
Yeah, like I said, nothing that’s going to set the world on fire, but it gets the job done.
The story is full of sly little references to the mythology and as a Classics MA, I absolutely loved that. You don’t really need to understand these references to appreciate the humour, but it’s a nice little bonus if you do get the references. And props to Ubisoft for actually doing their homework.
I’ve been playing on Switch, which isn’t exactly a technological powerhouse (on the plus side, I don’t have to share the TV), so I’ve been having a sort of Wii-era Xenoblade Chronicles problem, in that the art direction is phenomenal, but the actual graphics are held back by the relative weakness of the hardware.
Honestly, though, I don’t care. Worse graphics are worth not having to share the TV. That being said, I’m sure this game looks real good on the more powerful systems (especially the next-gen ones).
So, to wrap it up: I have some misgivings about Fenyx Rising — not the least being that I really hate the name “Fenyx.” However, despite these misgivings, I think I’ve actually enjoyed Fenyx Rising than any of the recent Assassin’s Creed games.
Overall, I’m willing to give the game a tentative recommendation, at least.
If nothing else, it’s solid as a sort of “My First Open-World Adventure RPG”, or a good chance of pace for people who enjoy this style of game but want a more lighthearted, family-friendly take on the genre. It’s less daunting than Breath of the Wild and much less violent and grim than the Assassin’s Creed games.
My final advice is to try the demo first and make up your own mind. And maybe wait for it to go on sale…