Greece Me Up!
HIGH The mountain race near the end is delightfully done.
LOW Some pretty noticeable bugs throughout.
WTF The eye-opening things about the Greek Gods and their proclivities.
Ubisoft seems to have something of a love affair with Greek Mythology at the moment. Hot off the heels of 2018’s substantially more grounded Assassin’s Creed Odyssey comes Immortals Fenyx Rising which immediately casts aside all those boring, dour attempts at reality and injects excitement, passion, vivid colors and more silly jokes than it’s possible to shake a xiphos at.
The story revolves around the recently-escaped titan Typhon wreaking havoc on the Gods of Olympus. Having kicked their asses before the game even begins, it’s up to our inexperienced hero Fenyx to head off on an epic quest and prevent Typhon from destroying all of humanity. Fenyx’s design is entirely customizable, though it should be noted that anyone who doesn’t pick the default female with short red hair is doing it wrong.
Events are narrated throughout by comedy duo Prometheus and Zeus, and while some players will bounce off the fact that they try to make almost every single thing that happens into a joke (seemingly) aimed at small children, I appreciated that they were constantly trying to make players laugh instead of going for the overly-serious ‘mature’ storylines so popular in triple-A titles these days. While many jokes don’t land, some of them absolutely do, and there’s even some surprisingly decent character development between the pair as nearly everything Fenyx gets up to triggers tales about the nuances of Greek mythology.
This third-person open-world adventure take places across the colorful and spacious overworld of the Golden Isle which can be traversed in a number of ways, whether on foot, by mount, gliding across valleys or climbing up mountains.
The Golden Isle may not be the largest open-world out there, but it is incredibly dense. Some areas have multiple puzzles, Vaults (sectioned-off puzzle or challenge areas) or combat situations within spitting distance of one another, and while it may have been nice if the overall design allowed the open world to breathe a bit more, there’s still plenty on offer for players to get stuck into.
From hunting down chests filled with armor and gems to instanced Vaults hiding away longer trials which reward players with upgrades to Fenyx’s health, skills or stamina, there’s a lot of rewarding content to be found, and much of it entirely optional — appreciated since it helps prevent the usual fatigue from checklist missions and ‘points of interest’ that plague most of the titles in this genre. I applaud the choice to encourage players to explore the isle organically instead of filling the map with billions of icons.
The puzzles are well-implemented throughout, even for a notorious puzzle-hater like myself. There are many types on offer, ranging from stuffing conspicuous objects into similarly-shaped holes to changing wind currents that help brittle objects reach their destinations. Most important, however, is that none of them are so obtuse that they bring progress to a screeching halt. A few may cause players to pause for a few minutes, but none ever made me get so frustrated that I abandoned it in a huff.
Another win is that Fenyx‘s combat is pretty breezy from beginning to end. It’s not the deepest out there, but it’s a good one featuring fast, fluid movement and chunky, powerful hits when steel meets bone.
Players can use a sword for quick, slashy attacks or an axe for more powerful stunning blows, and can also unlock a number of exotic powers as they progress. From pulling themselves across the battlefield towards airborne enemies, hurling massive rocks around or conjuring massive warhammers out of thin air, there’s a nice selection of abilities for nearly every occasion. Enemy variety could be a little more… well, varied, and the bosses rarely feel unique, but it’s a strong effort overall.
Annoyingly though, Fenyx Rising can be surprisingly buggy. It’s doesn’t appear outwardly glitchy, but enough annoyances popped up during my playthrough to rub the sheen off it somewhat.
These issues ran the gamut from small and infrequent things like clipping through the world or having to re-attempt a puzzle that didn’t trigger its solution correctly, to more serious ones such as having entire mission-critical structures fail to load where they were supposed to. At one point I spent almost thirty minutes looking for a furnace that simply wasn’t there and had to reload in order to make it appear.
Worst of all? After going through a long quest chain killing legendary bosses and collecting their crests to unlock a spiffy set of armour, I found out the game had declined to award me a crest from a boss I’d killed more than fifteen hours beforehand. After learning I’d been screwed over by something I had no control over and had no way of fixing, my desire to continue playing fell screaming off a cliff.
It’s unfortunate that these bugs were an issue because Immortals Fenyx Rising has a lot going for it. It’s charming, it’s pretty, and it clearly sets out to provide players with a good time. It doesn’t quite nail every aspect of its design, but it’s easily one of the better open-world games on the market right now, and for my money is the freshest and most enjoyable release from Ubisoft in years.
…It’s just a shame that I got screwed over with that armor set I wanted, and no, I’m never letting that one go.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Ubisoft Quebec and published by Ubisoft. It is currently available on XBO, XBX/S, PS4, PS5, Switch and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS5. Approximately 45 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Language, Suggestive Themes and Violence. The official description reads as follows: This is an action-adventure game in which players assume the role of Fenyx on a quest to defeat a titan and restore Greek gods/goddesses to power. Players explore mythologically themed environments, perform quests, and battle fantastical creatures (e.g., harpies, gorgons, cyclops, demons). Players use hammers, swords, arrows, and elemental abilities (e.g., fire, ice) to defeat enemies in close-quarters combat. Fighting can be frenetic, highlighted by impact sounds, screen-shaking and slow-motion effects. Enemies generally burst into particles or get blown back a great distance when defeated. The game contains some innuendo and suggestive humor in the dialogue (e.g., “’…storm his cave, and defile his manhood”; “…only finding peace with horses. Laying with horses”; “Not even if you were…having an orgy on a Pegasos made of rainbows”; “Clearly murder and incest did not make that very short list.”). The word “a*shole” appears in the dialogue. Writers note: The ESRB rating included a spoiler that I’ve thoughtfully removed. You’re welcome.
Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are present.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. The subtitles can be altered and/ or resized. Most of the game is fully playable without audio, however there are sound cues that signify a puzzle being completed or various time trials where the timer is accompanied by a particular musical piece that sputters out if not completed in time. It could be difficult to discern when these trials are failed without this feedback, though a pillar of light at the destination disappears when it’s no longer achievable if it’s within visual range.
Remappable Controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls. Also, I’d just like to say kudos to Ubisoft, here. This is one of the most customizable games I’ve seen with nearly every element of the HUD, controls and UI being modifiable to suit.
The chance discovery of a muddy, burnt out copy of '50 Shades of Grey' in a hunting pit gave him an appreciation for complex plots, characters and overarching narrative, and the unexpected gift of a Spectrum 48k allowed him to indulge in these newfound sensibilities with intelligent, highbrow games such as 'flee from the badly animated spinning turquoise dolphins' or 'avoid the deadly glowing bricks of doom'.
The fusion of both these interests finally culminated with Darren teaching himself how to write by basically guessing at what words might look like when jotted down on paper as opposed to being howled inarticulately at the skies.
Now others occasionally get to read his scribblings. Lucky them.