Immortals Fenyx Rising clearly takes a tremendous amount of inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BotW). From its universal climbing mechanic to its scattered puzzle rooms, many of the gameplay elements and mechanics are taken straight from BotW. Even the game’s musical cues are familiar; successfully solving a puzzle triggers a bright musical riff that sounds nearly identical to the one at the end of BotW puzzles. Immortals has taken the essence of BotW and added a layer of Greek mythology that helps the game stand apart.
You play as Fenyx, a lowly Greek soldier who is suddenly the only one left who can save the world from evil. The gods have all been defeated and it’s up to Fenyx to take up their weapons and finish their fight. Fenyx’s quest is narrated by two gods, Zeus and Prometheus, who inject a comedic element into the game. The tone is rather lighthearted overall, despite being about the end of the world. The mythological elements that are there serve to keep Immortals somewhat interesting, but it doesn’t last long due to its repetitive nature: although the game looks and feels massive, it plays small and is much shorter than similar open-world games.
Immortals is a beautiful game. What stands out immediately is the excellent particle work. Fenyx is frequently covered head to toe in various effects from collecting items or using powers. Enemies shatter satisfyingly into hundreds of particles and cascade into the distance upon death. Golden reins sparkle to life when Fenyx jumps onto the back of their mount. Shining wings erupt from their back when activating the glider. The texture work is simplistic, but it fits with the overall art style. Immortals looks like the later end of the PS4/Xbox One generation like it should. The draw distance is excellent, and you’re able to see destinations far across the map. Seeing all of the locations you can travel to from a high point of the map is enormously entertaining.
The core gameplay loop is the standard open-world Ubisoft affair. There are a ton of different collectibles on the map that all lead to various upgrades you can make to Fenyx’s gear and powers. There are an astounding twelve total currencies: four kinds that go toward improving gear and weapons, four kinds to make different potions, two kinds that go toward upgrading health or stamina, one kind that goes toward powers, and one that is linked to daily quests and used for cosmetic upgrades. The number of currencies in Immortals is too high, which makes the upgrade system overwhelming. You have a plethora of these different currencies and it’s not clear what they are used for until you’re back at your home base. Most of the currencies are from opening the chests that unlock after defeating groups of enemies. The currency for upgrading health can be found scattered around the open world while the one for stamina resides at the end of the many small dungeons called Vaults of Tartaros.
All these upgrades go toward bolstering Fenyx in their fight against the main villain, Typhon. When the game begins, Typhon has already defeated most of the gods. It’s your mission to find four of the gods and rescue them from the spells Typhon has placed on them. All four gods have their own questlines and large dungeons contained in their unique area. It’s fun finding the gods, discovering their unique personalities, and exploring their area. Each questing zone is markedly different: Aphrodite’s is lush and overgrown with plants, and Ares’ is rocky and filled with an immense fortress. All four zones are filled with items to collect and a few side quests to complete. The mythological premise is extended throughout the game. It’s not just major characters and names, references to famous Greek myths are scattered into all aspects of Immortals. For instance, there is a “legendary encounter” where you fight the boar that killed Adonis. Players knowledgeable in Greek mythology will enjoy how Immortals incorporates the legends.
As Fenyx, you run and glide around the map, picking up hundreds of collectibles, fighting a small number of enemy types, solving puzzles, and completing Vaults. The Vaults seem like they would be an enjoyable side activity, solving a few puzzles and collecting a currency at the end. Typically they contain a series of basic puzzles that revolve around either Fenyx’s powers or pressing various buttons. However, these puzzles range from dull and simple to frustratingly gimmicky; either they’re able to be blitzed through in a moment or they come down to repetitive button-pushing as you hope the physics objects do what they are supposed to do. One puzzle, in particular, had me pressing buttons to send balls rolling down a ramp where they would come to rest on a switch. I became stuck on this puzzle because the ball kept bouncing out of the track it was supposed to follow. I pushed the button and watched the ball roll dozens of times before it finally landed on the switch. This issue with an uncooperative physics object popped up again and again in my playthrough.
The way that Fenyx’s powers are introduced to you is interesting in that they are not introduced to you at all. The powers are accessed by unlocking them in a menu at Fenyx’s home base. There is no indication of where these powers come from and it’s off-putting unlocking them without earning them through the story. Some puzzles and main story quests require specific abilities, but it’s not clear that they are needed. At one point I needed a giant hammer ability to smash a statue, and I stumbled upon that fact purely by accident. The game made no mention of needing the ability for the quest, and it was not clear that I even needed it. The interaction between the hammer and the statue failed a few times as well. It’s easy to imagine a player trying the hammer once and just moving on when it did not work, thinking they must need another ability. It leads to frustration with the game and a disconnect with Fenyx as a character. They’re getting more powerful, but it is not clear why or how other than that they collected enough currency.
The combat itself has a few problems as well. Combat is initially fun and engaging, but eventually devolves into tedium. Fenyx has many different options available to them in a fight. They have a light attack with a sword, a heavy attack with an axe, a bow, and a series of powers, such as a giant hammer or a shield charge. Fenyx can dodge or parry attacks, which rewards you with a burst of slow motion upon achieving perfect timing. You can try to knock enemies into the air, parry every attack they throw, or dodge nimbly around them. There is a sneak attack as well, although in my experience it’s somewhat difficult to sneak up on enemies since they’re usually in groups. It’s nice that there does not seem to be one most effective route to combat. The combat starts to drag when the lack of enemy variety becomes apparent and grinding side quests becomes mandatory.
In order to progress through the main story at a reasonable pace, you’re required to do a fair amount of side activities to get the currencies for upgrading Fenyx’s gear. You’ll frequently get pop up messages as you explore the map that will tell you to make sure to upgrade Fenyx’s gear and then come back later. You can proceed with the encounter, there is no hard stat check, but you will have a much more difficult and less fun time if you do choose to proceed. The enemies’ health bars in these areas become absurdly large without upgrades to Fenyx’s weapons, and they attack at such a rapid pace that you are unlikely to make it through the battle unscathed. One of Fenyx’s powers that you get fairly early on can be spammed to stunlock bosses and beat them easily. Although that might help you get through areas without meeting the gear requirement, it’s not a fun experience. Enemy types are reused throughout the game as well. Some “legendary encounters” are just the same enemies but bigger and with more health. The combat lacks depth and becomes especially dull when you begin fighting the same foes over and over again.
Despite all these flaws, I still had the urge to return to Immortals. Journeying across a big open world and witnessing Greek legends come to life is enthralling for short bursts of time. That is what kept me intrigued enough to progress through the game: seeing and interacting with the mythological characters I’ve read about for years. Immortals is bland and frustrating at times, but just interesting enough to be worth a recommendation if you enjoy some light mythology and open world collectathons.