You may be wondering what a Greatest Living Author plays when he’s not writing. Well, how about either “Classical Mythology: The Game”, or “Other, Better Games: The Game”?
One of the things that really jumped out to me while playing Immortals Fenyx Rising is that the game’s title really needs a a “—” or a “:”, or even a “,” after the “Immortals”…
One of the other things was a nagging feeling of “Wait, am I actually having fun playing this game?”
Basically, my final answer is a resounding “eh.”
Fundamentally, Fenyx Rising isn’t a bad game, but it does undeniably feels like a game stitched together from the pieces of other games that did everything Fenyx Rising does and does better…
The silver, lining, however, is that it looks great, has phenomenal storytelling, and presents a better novel spin on Classical Mythology.
It’s sort of a 7/10 game, with 10/10 production.
This game is “Classical mytholgy, by way of Zelda, by way of Pixar, by way of pretty much every Ubisoft game since 2011.”
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.
It can actually be really, really funny. Especially if you understand the references — and there are plenty.
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 face 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.
Honestly, the art direction is still good enough, that the graphical design and art direction is still engaging and appealing even when you’re not playing on a system that can flop 120 teraflops.
[Full disclosure, I don’t know what a teraflop is or why you’d want 120 of them…]
Again, it’s exactly like Xenoblade for Wii.
If nothing else, Fenyx Rising is solid as a sort of “My First Open-World Adventure RPG”, or a good change 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.
Though, fundamentally, I’m recommending this more on the basis of style and substance.
Though it does have the fact that it’s CanCon, developed by Ubisoft Quebec – not to be confused with the better-known Ubisoft Montreal, which is located in the Province of Quebec, whereas Ubisoft Quebec is located in the City of Quebec (City) — which is, of course, also located in the Province of Quebec…
My final advice is to try the demo first and make up your own mind. And maybe wait for a sale…
Or, honestly, since the production is the best part of the game, just watch a streamer do a playthrough of the game, so you can experience all of the game’s strengths without having to actually slog through the combat.
See the rest of my recommendations here.
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