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I love Ubisoft video games. I have since the moment I played my first Assassin’s Creed game six years ago. Ubisoft is known for large, open-world action/adventure games. They excel in creating immersive, beautiful environments. Immortals Fenyx Rising (“Immortals”) was developed by Ubisoft Quebec and published by Ubisoft. Formerly known as Gods & Monsters, Immortals released in December 2020 on multiple platforms, including next-generation consoles in the Xbox Series S/X and PlayStation 5. This year alone, in an unprecedented move, Ubisoft released three AAA games optimized for next generation consoles within two months. Each of the three titles has earned high praise and accolades, Immortals included. I can say without doubt, Immortals Fenyx Rising is Ubisoft’s best game release to date, and my personal Game of the Year.
“Immortals Fenyx Rising is the game I wanted Breath of the Wild to be,” my friend Iluspook (@iluspook) said only a handful of hours into the game. And I agree with him. Right off the bat in Immortals, you’ll notice similarities to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Immortals certainly feels similar to Breath of the Wild (especially with that pesky blue stamina bar and purple lasers), but with more vibrant colors and a lot of Greek mythology thrown in. Ubisoft took the idea of Breath of the Wild and greatly improved upon it.
Within the game you will meet many gods and goddesses that you’re sure to be familiar with, from Zeus to Aphrodite. The story is set in the Golden Isle with seven separate regions centered around the Greek gods. You play as Fenyx, a shield bearer, as she attempts to save the gods and regain their essences that were taken by Typhon, our antagonist. For the purpose of this review, I will refer to Fenyx as “she” as I played as a female Fenyx, but you certainly have the option to choose a male character if you prefer. The perspective is third-person and Fenyx will seem small and far away on screen to give the illusion that everything in the game is tremendous. And for the record, everything is enormous – the buildings, enemies, gods, and even the statues.
The first thing you will notice is that Immortals is undoubtedly a stunningly beautiful and vibrant game. Each region is full of different colors, scenery, and even weather patterns. To defog the map, you’ll climb each island’s dedicated statue, thus allowing you to scout the area and mark chests and points of interest on the map. Your home base, Hall of the Gods, is found in the Valley of Eternal Spring region. Here you can change Fenyx’s appearance as many times as you’d like, craft and upgrade potions, upgrade stamina and overall health, purchase and upgrade skills and godly powers, and upgrade and equip weapons, armor, wings, and helmets. Fenyx can fly through the beautiful setting with a fancy set of wings she earns. The wings are as gorgeous as her armor and as vibrant as her weapons. Flying uses up precious stamina, but once you master this aspect of the game, the flight is extremely satisfying and a very creative way to get around. I took tens of photos of Fenyx in the air as the wings are so pretty and make a perfect subject in photographs.
Also at the Hall of the Gods is Hermes, the sly god of merchants and wealth, who offers a variety of specialty items for purchase with currency earned from completing in-game challenges. Immortals does offer a small selection of cosmetic items available through micro-transactions, ranging from $5 to $50 USD for the credit packs. In addition to purchasable items are consumables found around the Golden Isle. (Fun fact: consumables is defined as “a commodity that is intended to be used up relatively quickly,” which is ironic because in gaming, we tend to be supply hoarders.) The supplies required for crafting can be located all around the map everywhere from near water to chopping down trees. Pomegranates are used for regenerating Fenyx’s health and blue mushrooms are used for replenishing stamina. Potions can be crafted at various cauldrons to replenish health and stamina more quickly than consuming consumables (sorry) individually. I really appreciate how streamlined the consumables and inventory are in Immortals. You won’t spend any time destroying unwanted weapons and armor or crafting arrows.
Immortals doesn’t offer anything revolutionary or game-changing for the industry. However, the story, humor, and music stand out as superb. Immortals Fenyx Rising was written by lead writer Jeffrey Yohalem who was the perfect choice for this game. Immortals is not over-saturated with “fluff” and pointless filler. I am here to tell you that Immortals is extremely well-written, clever, and absolutely hilarious. I laughed out loud throughout the entire game and can honestly say I haven’t laughed this much playing a video game ever before. The gods and their traits were perfectly incorporated into the story. The characters were fantastically written and Fenyx’s adventure is epic. The banter between Prometheus and Zeus was amusing and made me laugh multiple times. There aren’t enough superlatives for me to describe how good the story is. Ares was my favorite character and I much preferred him as his pre-saved self (intentionally vague here so as not to spoil anything). Zeus is a flawed god (sorry) who hilariously has “daddy issues” but then comes around full-circle and realizes that he didn’t treat his own family well. There are loads of hidden gems in the story of which I will spare you the spoilers and allow you to encounter these on your own. In short, Immortals contains one of the best video game stories you will ever experience.
Complementing the story missions are an array of puzzles. As someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy puzzles in video games, I have to admit Immortals’ puzzles are well-crafted, smart, fun, and can be quite difficult. Found scattered throughout the map are vaults, which are dungeon-like puzzles offering an objective for you to complete whilst finding your way around traps, moving floating boxes that double as platforms, avoiding lasers, etc. The vaults can be lengthy, but they are stunningly beautiful. Photo mode is not allowed in the vaults for presumably the obvious reason of not forcing the camera around objects to scout a solution to the challenge. More than anything, I found myself falling off platforms in the vaults because I am a terrible flyer. It took me a while to master the art of flying gracefully. Anyhow, there were many times I was frustrated with the solution to a puzzle. I’m ashamed at how many vaults took me multiple hours to complete. My best advice is to not overthink them, and to remember there is no shame in looking up the solution online. My favorite game puzzles were the Myth Challenge Constellations where you solve mini-puzzles to locate blue orbs and place them in the correct location on a grid to unlock a constellation.
One aspect I love about this game is that it doesn’t hold your hand. As previously discussed, the puzzles can be very challenging. The combat can also be very tough, especially in boss fights. You will encounter enemies such as cyclops, minotaurs, wraiths, and you will even fight the great warrior Achilles. In a creative fashion, fallen foes disintegrate once defeated. Enemies can be taken down with a sword or axe, using skills and godly powers such as Hephaistos’ Hammer or Ares’ Wrath, or by using Fenyx’s bow and arrows. The arrows will auto-regenerate, so you do not need to focus on finding materials to craft them. As in any game, a charged arrow will do more damage, but one aspect of the bow and arrow that differs in Immortals is Apollo’s Arrows. These arrows can be controlled by the player. I highly recommend purchasing the skill to control the speed of these arrows as it will greatly come in handy throughout the game.
The music in Immortals is magical, charming, and unique. The soundtrack is beautiful! Gareth Coker was absolutely the perfect composer for this game. I am in love with the song “Heart of the Hero” which plays on the title screen. I don’t know enough about instruments or music in general to offer anything substantive. I just want to say the game soundtrack deserves its own review, and I won’t harp (sorry) on it too much as really, you should listen for yourself to see what I mean.
I didn’t have any major issues or glitches with Immortals Fenyx Rising. The game crashed to the main menu once for me; however, I would be remiss not to mention there are people who have had problems with game’s save files and have lost numerous hours of play due to this issue. It took me 45 hours to complete the game. Immediately upon completion, I started up a New Game + so that I could experience it again.
All in all this game is so successful because it’s not a full copy and paste style of game that we see so often lately. This is a unique Olympian adventure. Some aspects are borrowed from Breath of the Wild, some taken from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or elsewhere, but in all respects, this is an original game, and I’d love to see more of this from Ubisoft. It is obvious the love and care that Ubisoft Quebec put forth into crafting this game. It is full of delight. Everything from the story to the characters is phenomenal and I can’t speak highly enough of this game. I fully recommend playing it. Without a doubt this is my favorite Ubisoft game, and definitely my Game of the Year for 2020. It pays to wait until the end of the year to choose.
To the team at Ubisoft Quebec: Félicitations. You’ve set the bar very high.