Immortals Fenyx Rising (PlayStation 5) Review

By Drew Hurley 25.05.2021 1

Review for Immortals Fenyx Rising on PlayStation 5

Immortals Fenyx Rising was shown off at E3 back in 2019, where Ubisoft mentioned its Assassin's Creed titles have always looked to history books, and while newer entries have dipped their toe into the more mythological aspects of history, what was then known as Gods and Monsters was fully embracing that world. Now known as Immortals Fenyx Rising thanks to a bit of a copyright issue with Monster energy drinks, the game has now arrived on just about every generation, including a free upgrade for Xbox Series X/S, and, of course, the PlayStation 5.

When it comes to mythology, who doesn't love a good bit of the Greek lore? It's especially in vogue thanks to games like the classic God of War titles and the recent outstanding Hades, but has long been a rich world to pull inspiration from, with absolute classics like Clash of the Titans, and Jason and the Argonauts still standing up today - the legendary work of Harryhausen still pointed to with good reason. Fenyx Rising certainly puts a unique and light-hearted take on that source material, it's cartoonish aesthetic fitting with this tone and delivering an experience for younger gamers out there to enjoy too.

The story opens on a ship of soldiers crashing upon the shores of a verdant and lush environment. Of the passengers it seems only a single young man walks forward, finding his companions all turned to stone across the sands. This young man is no hero. He's just a shield-bearer, and he's stumbled into a battle between the pantheon of the Olympians and the great wind Titan, Typhon. Typhon has sealed away the Gods, and Zeus rushes off in hopes that Prometheus can help somehow.

This is how the young man gets pulled into the legendary battle between Gods and Monsters. Prometheus tells the tale of the hero Fenyx, and how he rose to hero hood - though Zeus' alternative commentary often adds a layer of challenge for Fenyx's trials. This duo acts as the narrator, and also play-by-play commentators of the ongoing story. Of course, like any legendary commentary duo, from Jerry Lawler, and Good ol' JR, to Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon, Prometheus is the face, Zeus the heel, and their commentary is always stellar. Not just on Fenyx's exploits either. The duo keeps a running commentary on whatever area of the island he may be exploring at the time, retelling classic tales from mythology, but with a modern take. The banter between this pair is a huge highlight, genuinely funny and interesting.

Screenshot for Immortals Fenyx Rising on PlayStation 5

Now then, to the main event, the gameplay. The influence of Breath of the Wild is plainly evident right from the first moments. As this starts Fenyx reaches one of the first challenges set before him: a cliff to scale. As he begins to climb a stamina bar begins to decrease. Just like in BotW, Fenyx steps out into a big open world, which can be taken on in any order. In place of Shrines, there is the equivalent 'Vaults of Tartaros,' which offer up areas separated from the main world, and within are different types of challenges. Various complex puzzles, and gauntlet-style combat challenges. There are some innovative and imaginative encounters here that give new equipment and items for powering up Fenyx's abilities and attributes.

Yes, there's plenty to compare to Breath of the Wild. The designers clearly took great inspiration from it. However, there's also plenty to differentiate. Thankfully, there's no weapon durability! There's clear inspiration from Ubisoft's magnum opus too. The open world is absolutely packed with things to do and find. Since the whole thing is open right from the get-go, it's possible to just burn straight through the story in little time, but the world is utterly inviting and the numerous activities worth engaging in.

Outside of the Tartaros Vaults, there are challenges scattered regularly across the expansive map. Races through checkpoints; controlling an arrow and leading its flight between objects and through hoops to ignite a pyre; rearrange puzzle frescos in the old school sliding puzzle style; learning and recreating melodies from lyres; taking down legendary beasts; and many, many, many logic puzzles. Whether it be collecting spheres hidden away, or solving pressure plated sequences, there's an absolute ton of these, and unlike many open-world games, they're well designed, thought-provoking, and just difficult enough to pose a challenge without being too obtuse.

Screenshot for Immortals Fenyx Rising on PlayStation 5

All of these activities reward new gear for Fenyx, like sharp swords, powerful axes, taut bows, protective armour, and dashing helmets. They also reward currency items that can be spent back at the Sanctuary of the Gods. Zeus' Lightning Bolts can be used to increase Fenyx's Stamina, Ambrosia to increase his health, varieties of coloured gemstones to power up equipment. More important, though, are the Coins of Charon, which are used to unlock special abilities and attacks. These have major impacts on the game, and are split between enhancements for Fenyx, and big special abilities known as God Powers.

The enhancements cover things like increasing his climbing speed, adding parry attacks, extend combos, and the like. God Powers gift unleashable abilities fitting with each of the Gods, such as Ares Wrath, which summons a field of Spartan spears from the floor, launching enemies foolish enough to stand too close into the air. Those who prefer to smash enemies to a fine paste or launch them into the sky can summon the Hammer of Hephaestus. One ability even allows Fenyx to summon a stone statue of himself that can be used very smartly in the weighted platform puzzles.

Blending these special abilities into the combat is absolutely seamless. Combat itself is a fast and fluid experience. Mashing quick attacks with a sword to slice through enemies. Then, when dealing with the heavily armoured beasties, slamming big heavy attacks through shields, and defence with an axe. The axe has the bonus effect of filling a stun meter which leaves enemies defenceless. There's the usual parry and dodge too, with a satisfying time slowdown following a perfect dodge that allows Fenyx to decimate the enemy. There's a decent range of enemies to face off against too, all pulled from mythology. Minotaurs, Harpies, Cerberus, Cyclops, and more. Not to mention some towering, beastly boss fights.

Screenshot for Immortals Fenyx Rising on PlayStation 5

What sets this game apart from the most, though, is the world it has crafted. The aforementioned commentary of Zeus and Prometheus, combined with the wonderful world that showcases elements of the classic Greek tales make for a wonderful experience. Scaling the petrified sea serpent as it stands mid-thrust in its attempted devouring of Andromeda while the pair retells the tale. Taking on the legendary Gorgon, Medusa, atop thunderous clifftops. The backdrop and setting really elevates the experience.

Like most AAA titles these days, there's already a roadmap of content planned, and a Season Pass lined up for three DLCs over the coming months. What's surprising about this Season Pass, however, is just how transformative it is. The first adds major story content with developments that follow on after the conclusion of the base game. The second is crazy, delivering a new protagonist and a whole new setting as the game pivots to Chinese mythology. This looks massively ambitious, and impressive. It's exciting to see what comes of it. Then the third pivots again, this time altering the gameplay from the third-person action to a top-down experience! This is one of the most exciting DLC packages in recent memory.

A great benefit with this new title is a day one next-gen upgrade for free. The PS4 provided review code instantly unlocked a download of the PS5 version, and the enhanced version certainly brought with it some noticeable differences. The game has few loading screens in the open world, but delving into Tartarus and Fast Travelling brings one about. On the PS5 these are reduced to being barely noticeable. Then, like other titles with an upgraded next-gen version, this offers up one of two different modes. It's again Quality vs Performance. The differences are easily noticeable, with silky smooth constant 60FPS in Performance mode that is made for the combat sections, versus Quality mode for the explorer who wants to enjoy the scenic vistas.

Screenshot for Immortals Fenyx Rising on PlayStation 5

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

It's easy to dismiss Immortals: Fenyx Rising as just a Breath of the Wild rip-off, or yet another Ubisoft IP built on the principles that the it has cemented its brand on, yet, there's some real magic here. It being launched so close to Assassin's Creed Valhalla has helped to differentiate the two, and to showcase just how much this feels like a breath of fresh air when compared. "Fun" is often an overused word in gaming, but it's exactly what this feels like. Ubisoft's open-world titles can invoke burnout towards their conclusion - crumbling under their own weight due to their size. Instead, this is a real palette cleanser. It feels like it hits that real sweet spot in the genre of the open-world adventure games. The world is large but enjoyable to explore, with just enough to do, and the constant commentary keeping things interesting. This combined with the genuinely funny and smart writing results in something that will be the big surprise hit for many.

Developer

Ubisoft Quebec

Publisher

Ubisoft

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

The price of the PS5 version is dropping so fast, definitely a bargain to be had with this game!

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