Formerly known as Gods & Monsters, Immortals Fenyx Rising was a surprising treat we couldn't get enough of during our recent hands-on with the upcoming adventure from Ubisoft. This Greek adventure blended what I love most about the Assassin's Creed franchise and married it to other games such as Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Fable, and even Deadpool.
Walking into the preview I was excited but not expecting much. Not because the game didn't look good, but it just isn't my usual schtick that I look for when wanting to settle down with a new journey. What I didn't expect was to fall in love so wholeheartedly and lament the fact that my time with the game ended as swiftly as it did.
This open-world game began with Zeus and Prometheus breaking the fourth wall to introduce the world of Fenyx Rising. With hilarious dialogue poking fun at traditional game narrators, game mechanics, and learning as you go, immediately I found myself charmed by the atmosphere that Ubisoft set up.
There was even a moment where they made a joke about the studio itself with Prometheus correcting Zeus on his pronunciation of Ubisoft by saying "it's actually pronounced eh-bi-soft," to which he scoffed and replied, "the french." Those moments of levity truly set in stone that this was a game meant to be enjoyed for no other reason than to be enjoyed.
Immortals felt very much like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild both in art style and in functionality. Scaling huge cliffs on limited stamina, tucking and rolling, and even just basic combat felt very fluid and reminiscent of the Nintendo title. That being said, the studio also took a few liberties from another major Ubisoft franchise, Assassin's Creed, with the free falls, combat triggers, combos, and free open-world reign.
As a huge lover of Greek mythology, the playful spin on mythological favorites paired perfectly with the humor written into the narrative and the exploration that the game affords the player. Unlike Assassin's Creed Odyssey that also appeals to Greek mythology lovers, the context of this tale appeals to all ages. From young children to grown adults, the balance of an easy-going exploratory experience with rewarding challenges was perfectly handled in a way that offers a wonderful entry for those interested.
The story is set up after the deadly Typhon escapes from Tartarus and brings destruction upon the world after tearing the veil asunder. His rage throws him into a painted red-filled venture against his fellow gods and humans alike and the chaos that follows means bad news for our protagonist: Fenyx.
For the sake of time and the freedom to truly explore, my hands-on time with the game took place a few hours into the story for more powered up gear and many areas already unlocked. For this demo, I took to the Forgelands, the home of Hephaistos, to rekindle the formant Forges by taking out foes and relighting them once more. Each area required fighting enemies smartly while also taking part in quite a few puzzles with said puzzles being just challenging enough to be worth it without being exasperating.
There was one moment when I failed at being a stealthy-stealth and accidentally pulled 5 mini-bosses to me at one time. We didn't think I'd make it through alive, but with clever dodging and panic button-bashing, I came out the victor and felt really good about it. This game is immensely satifisying without making you feel pressured to get any one thing out of it. In an age where everything needs to be either Game of the Year or nothing at all, Immortals Fenyx Rising is most certainly a breath of fresh air.
From my time with the game, a very small portion of it, this will definitely be a day-one play for me. The story, from what I've seen, is appealing, the writing is clever, and the in-game mechanics were indulging and rewarding. I can't wait to see what other characters players will meet throughout their journey and how else the writing team creatively puts their own spin on these notorious Greek idols.
Immortals Fenyx Rising releases on December 3rd for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia, and PC.