I came to Immortals Fenyx Rising as someone who abhors the new AC games post Unity and finds BOTW to be one of the most overrated games of all time, as someone who’s entire childhood was Nintendo, not owning a “competitor” console until about 7 years ago.
So on paper I should absolutely hate Immortals Fenyx Rising, however I do not. There are indeed aspects to the game that I hate, however, the fundamental core here pulls off something neither BOTW or AC post unity has managed.
The story is nothing really to write home about, almost all the gods have been defeated and you are the unlikely mortal who becomes the hero. What there is to say about the story though is that the tone is all over the place, it tries to be serious and funny/slapstick at the same time. It however fails at this, it’s fourth wall breaks and humour tend to miss the mark.
I applaud the attempt, however they failed on this front, they did not achieve the balance that some modern franchises outside of games have like Deadpool and zombie land. Although the dialogue can occasionally be amusing and there is come charm here. I do appreciate that the antagonist is incredibly powerful and treated as such thus cannot be beaten with a stick.
Your character has items formerly owned by gods and requires the assistance of gods. Further emphasising that Typhoon is an actual serious threat and not some apparently maniacal threat that almost destroyed the world yet can be beaten by a stick.
This is a weird one, the actual art style while not unique is perfectly fine and is a solid direction. However, the character models especially fall straight into low budget f2p mobile game territory, which is a huge shame. Presentation wise this is very much your typical modern Ubisoft game.
It’s from a huge publisher but looks incredibly poor artistically. While this game is not as much of a failure as other modern Ubisoft games, as there is certainly some level of thought into prop placements etc, it misses the mark overall which is very disappointing.
The animations are serviceable at their best, and appalling at their worst, they are not smooth, they feel too light weight and lack any form of impact.
The sound design overall is extremely poor, while the music tracks are fine, good even. However, they are used at odd times sometimes during the gameplay. The sound really falls flat in combat, everything lacks weight, axes, swords and arrows etc do not differentiate themselves enough from one another. They all have the same sound signature.
Coming from demon souls on PS5, which is admittedly an incredibly high standard, the game is a straight up failure in the audio department outside of the music.
The voice acting also feels very C tier list, everything comes across as a voice actor just doing their job, rather than being invested in the world and the characters they are portraying.
The world while arguably suffering from identity issues (somewhat mild in my opinion), it is the most entertaining world I have experienced form a Ubisoft game and open world game in general in a long time. The world visually is thriving, barren empty flat world with a lack of detail this is not. There’s grass, trees, mountains, and architecture stretching far into the distance.
There are enemies everywhere, but not too an overwhelming sense, the world is busy but not too busy. You can choose to go into a mode where you can very easily spot all the side activities and so on in the game and mark them on the map, however your navigation bar at the top does not get littered with them, thanks to an incredibly customizable HUD instead only key objectives are on there. What you choose to follow appears on the bar. This feels like a much more minimalistic Ubisoft game even on default setting on the UI front than say AC, there actually is not much in it compared to AC, but it does not feel as obtrusive to me.
Now this is where the positivity starts, the game absolutely shines in this department.
For starters unlike AC levels for everything are thrown out the windows and everything revolves around resources which are easy to gather. This gets rid of the incredibly annoying grind, and the MTX to make that grind easier. No levels also means battles emphasise on you and your skills, rather than an artificial level used to gate content.
The combat while not having a lot of depth, it has a lot of options. You have your typical light and heavy attacks, which are a standard mashing affair, you also have perfect dodges, which act like witch time from bayonetta, you also have parries. As the game progresses you get more and more tools at your disposal, you can upgrade your combos and gain new ones in addition to moves.
You can also make your weapons more effective. What is smart here however is rather than upgrading individual swords and axes and so on, you have global upgrades to each weapon archetype and the different swords, axes and bows you find have their own unique perk. This significantly decreases the micromanagement and fat of games like AC, while still maintaining more than enough for a game of its type. You also have potions you can use in and out of combat, they can also be upgraded.
On hard mode only 1 bar of HP can regenerate outside of combat, meaning you really have to manage your resources well, mashing will also result in death. You do also get animal companions which can be upgraded and used in battle, they cost significant amounts of stamina to use, resulting in a risk/reward system. It is more reward than risk, but I appreciate that you have to think of the balance. Weapons do not degrade at all, and combat rewards you with resources used for upgrades, which actively encourages you to fight, as you have something to gain from it.
Much like BOTW you have a stamina bar, however it is nowhere near as limiting. Within the first 5 hours you have more than enough, this is not however due to size of the bar, it is due to the incredibly brilliant design choices in the game. Littered around the world are multiple resources, some are used to heal, others for potions, however most importantly some are used for stamina. All of which are available from the very first minute of the game.
Like all resources they can be made into potions, however it is also effective enough on its own in the early game to be used as is. What this results in, is rather than you having to grind your bar, if you explore the world you will have more than enough resources to go where you want to go at any time. You the player are rewarded for whatever way you play, rather than you grinding resources for your stamina bar, you can, if you want to explore without doing that you can freely. The game’s systems do not actively work against you.
To build your stamina bar there are tasks you can complete but the main resource however is in the form of Tartarus pits, which have puzzles or athletic tasks based on a specific deity and have 3 individual pits for each one. With each pit being of the same general puzzle but with the difficulty ramped up as you move up the chain. Every single one so far has been unique, and not copy pasted.
They are not particularly difficult, but they get your brain thinking, they also never overstay their welcome. They are brilliantly designed. They do not feel like they are thrown together for the sake of existing with little thought. However, some do require certain god powers you may not yet have, which means you may have to return to them later.
Exploration is significantly faster than other Ubisoft open world games and some other open world titles, at the start you have a double jump, a run, glide and your basic climbing and swimming. You character is very agile however, so moving around does not feel slow and dragged out. You do have mounts and your exploration skills can be upgraded as the game goes on.
Also due to the previously mentioned resources your stamina bar is nowhere near as restrictive as it could be and is in other games, really allowing you to explore and go where you want at your own pace. No hyper limiting stamina bar forcing you to grind generic poorly put together puzzles is in sight. While exploring I have come across legendary monsters and areas that visually scream I should not be here organically. There is certainly a wonderous sense to exploring in Immortals, especially when gliding through the world, it might not be as subtle as BOTW but the same kind of wonder is there.
Especially if you choose to mark nothing and just explore. Your exploration tools sublimely combine together which really elevates the enjoyment of exploring the world and ends up feeling quite empowering. There are many things that I have seen that genuinely piqued my interest and made me want to visit them and their surrounding area. Your exploration tools sublimely combine together which really elevates the enjoyment of exploring the world and ends up feeling quite empowering. There are many things that I have seen that genuinely piqued my interest and made me want to visit them and their surrounding area.
The side activities are not run of the mill activities, there are a wide variety of side activities, that while not new, are not your average fair. They often focus on the skills you have obtained from godly items, such as archery, strength, speed and so on. Combine that with solid combat and great puzzles that are genuinely quite fun to do. Side quests often consist of fulfilling tasks that help improve your companion or something that actively benefits your character, there are also hidden quests.
As mentioned previously there are puzzle chambers which give you resources to upgrade your stamina bar, the world is also littered with other resources such that can upgrade your health, be used to upgrade your characters abilities, companions and weapons etc. There is also a task board full of your average tasks to do in the world to gain resources to spend for cosmetic items and so on. There is an online part to this task board that refreshes, keeping things fresh.
As previously mentioned, you also get resources from enemies, which you can grind for upgrades, but they are generally plentiful, so it never feels like a chore. Ubi towers exist, but there are only a small handful and the reasons for them existing has some form of legitimacy and they do not take long to climb.
There are pieces of armour, armour sets, cosmetics and weapons hidden throughout the world with their own perks. You can also visually alter any gear you obtain to look how you want.
Everything feels grounded within the world and significantly less copy/paste monotony that BOTW provided. There is never a dull moment when exploring the world of Immortals and there are active attempts to keep it fresh with a lot less copy pasting of tasks and completing said tasks resulting in something meaningful for the player. The side quests also do not feel that generic, it is not your run of the mill kill X and fetch X.
Also, as you progress through the game, it has its own blood moon like system where Typhoon addresses you directly and spawns a significantly strong minion. This builds on the antagonist, making him seem more than just the endgame and also helps you the player feel like you are becoming a significant threat and part of the actual story, rather than just being there.
The recent AC games and Zelda are games that objectively hold you back to force you to do the repetitive tasks to give an artificial sense of progress, whether that was with the very limited stamina system that takes a significant amount of time doing dull borderline copy pasted puzzles to get to anywhere near what was an acceptable amount. Or with numbers above enemies’ heads that stop you progressing, no matter how skilled you are.
The physics system in immortals is basic but very grounded and is not there to hinder the player. It is not a physics system that made no sense, with one rain drop while climbing making you fall, but hey if you are in the water completely soaked you can climb a wooden column…
A weapon system where Hyrule seemed to have the worst black smith in the world where weapons would break regularly, where metal ones could break before wooden ones. The combat system in immortal is fun, fast allows some skill and you are actively rewarded for fighting your enemies, rather than losing more than you gain majority of the time.
I mention some of these glaring flaws of BOTW because the way Immortals handles these issues is brilliant.
It deserves praise and makes exploring infinitely more fun. You have a similar system for upgrading your stamina, by visiting Tartarus pits and completing puzzles. However due to the consumable items if you see somewhere you want to go to, but your stamina is a bit short, you can still go there.
The game does not actively punish and/or work against you, in addition to it being faster due to your godlike powers to get there in Fenyx rising. Not being punished for grinding a stamina bar is incredibly refreshing.
Fighting monsters gives you resources, there is no XP in sight, which removes level gating, and does not make you actively avoid combat as you almost always end up with less than you came into with. Meaning there is actively a reason to take part in combat you the player benefit from it. Ridding the world of monsters benefits you actively.
It has the best implementation of Ubisoft towers to date, which can be counted with one hand and do not take long at all to climb. A stark contrast to the worst ubi tower implementation of all time that Nintendo ended up with.
PC Port Report
This review was done on a machine with the following specs.
I7 8700K @4.7GHz all cores
EVGA 1080TI SC BLACK
Low Latency GSKILL 3600MHz DDR4 RAM
The settings are underwhelming, there are very few options and they are either very low to very high, on/off or adaptive. You can not choose the type of AA you want to use, there is no AF option. It is INCREDIBLY underwhelming, especially when compared to the very granular settings in something like the division.
I ran the game maxed out at 1440p, there are constant minor frame timing issues, which reportedly are also present on some of the console versions to a worse extent due to VSync. The game runs about as well as you would expect for something on Anvil with Denuvo.
Not very good, I get constant dips below 60 and what the game is doing should not be that demanding, I witnessed multiple spikes where some of my CPU cores hit 77c and 100% usage, this is 100% down to denuvo and has been present in pretty much every single Ubisoft PC game.
The average fps is low 60s, there are parts that do run significantly better such as the Tartarus pits, but when exploring the world 60fps with drops was the norm. It is playable but the performance is poor for what is going on, this is all on the anvil engine however and I really wish Ubisoft would kill this engine and just use Snowdrop. I was unable to use my dualsense controller, but it did detect my xbox elite controller.
There is also a bug where anything but Fullscreen mode limits the refresh rate to 60hz.
Below is an example of the CPU usage, it is not pretty, and from experience is due to Denuvo DRM.
Fenyx rising is actively both your typical Ubisoft game and isn’t. The story is more miss than hit, the animations, presentation and overall fidelity of the game for a company like Ubisoft is completely unacceptable. As one of the biggest names in the industry, their products should be significantly better in this regard.
Underneath the rough package however, is an incredibly fun game, with well thought out systems. Systems that encourage and reward the player for playing, amalgamating into a package that is truly fun and hard to put down. It brings a world full of life, fantastic puzzles and is one of the best open world experiences in recent years. It is joyous to just glide over the land and wander, not worrying about icons and all the busy work, due to the unobtrusive customizable nature of the HUD.
It takes the best parts of many games when it comes to gameplay for the most part successfully pulls them off. It is a world I want to explore more, it’s a world I have fun exploring, I enjoy fighting its enemies and saving the world, I relish encountering the gods. There is a solid foundation to be built upon here and I truly hope Ubisoft realise that and build on it.
This is not just the best Ubisoft game this year, it is the best Ubisoft game in a long time. It has a charm that reminds me of the golden days where games had their own identity. It feels a bit like the old game Sphinx in terms of its visuals and identity, it has an actual charm and does not feel templated, despite being a template. It feels like it was made with genuine love and care and is absolutely worth your time.