PLATFORM: PC, PS4, PS5 (REVIEWED), SWITCH, XBOX ONE / SERIES X | RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 3RD
Watching the trailer for Immortals: Fenyx Rising, your first thought is likely to be something along the lines of “ooh, it looks like a fun cartoony version of Assassin's Creed crossed with Breath of the Wild”. And you'd be very correct – Ubisoft has taken the best bits from one of their own mega-popular franchises, mashed them together with elements from one of the most well-received games of all time and added a brightly-coloured coat of paint and a massive dollop of humour to form this open world RPG-puzzle-platformer hybrid.
Wronged by the Olympians and imprisoned under a mountain by Zeus, the evil demon Typhon has hatched a vengeful plan to defeat his nemesis and take control of the the overworld by vanquishing the seven Gods of the Golden Isle. But he didn't plan for the arrival of a hero, Fenyx, who mysteriously washes up on the shore one day. With guidance from Zeus and Prometheus, who constantly bicker between themselves, Fenyx is the Isle's only chance of survival...
The Golden Isle is split into six distinct areas (plus the evil castle in the centre), each inhabited by and themed around a God that Fenyx needs to rescue. The map opens up completely within the first hour or so of the game, allowing players to tackle the story in any order they like, traversing the land by foot, on horseback, or by gliding through the air. It's not the most well-populated world – you won't find any towns or settlements or NPCs to talk to – but what it lacks in civilization, it makes up for with a decent variety of things to do. Outside of the main missions, there are platforming puzzles and combat encounters to complete in the vaults (Immortals' answer to BotW's shrines), legendary creatures to take down, obstacle courses to run, and Hermes' neverending task list to help out with.
You'll also spend a lot of time searching for chests, many of which are accessed by solving environmental puzzles like shooting targets, moving items around or weighing down panels or activating switches in the right order. These “epic chests” contain even more valuable loot than the less well-concealed regular chests, although it's pretty much essential to find as many as possible of both types in order to help Fenyx become as strong as possible.
Immortals' RPG elements are very streamlined – there's no levelling system or experience points to play with. Instead, your health, weapons, armour and skills are upgraded by spending the various different types of currency that you earn by completing objectives. It's a simple approach that encourages players to try out all of the different activities on offer to earn their corresponding rewards, and it allows Fenyx to grow more powerful without the need for agonising over skill trees, but those looking for something deeper might find it to be a touch superficial.
There's plenty of combat, too, of course. Griffins, gorgons, harpies, cyclopes, multiple-armed monsters, wild animals and corrupt soldiers are dealt with by hacking, slashing and firing away with your swords, axes and bows. There's a huge range of weapons to be found, all with unique stat buffs, and Fenyx is also able to pull off plenty of special moves to deal maximum damage. It might not break any new ground in terms of combat, but it feels very fluid and satisfying. Sending enemies flying into the distance, leaving a trail of sparks and debris behind them, manages to be entertaining every single time!
Immortals does stumble in a couple of areas, though. While you're free to just roam the world and see what you come across, it's definitely helpful to get a few locations added to your map to get you going. The only way of doing this is through a rather laborious process that involves slowly moving your pointer around the screen and honing in when your controller vibrates, which is a nice idea but doesn't quite work in practise. Some of the environmental puzzles suffer from being a bit cluttered – you'll find the end goal easily enough, but it can be frustratingly difficult to find a starting point, to the point where you may well just give up and move on to another area. And there's a chance you might also give up on the banter between Zeus and Prometheus, who chime in at any available opportunity. Zeus' brand of goofy sass can get a bit tiresome, and a fair amount of jokes land way off the mark...
It's a bit of an odd one to rate, really. It's a solid and entertaining game for sure, but it might be a little on the light side for seasoned RPG veterans. At the same time, the streamlined gameplay is a huge plus for those less-accustomed to RPGs, and younger players might be more in tune with the brash, buddy-movie humour. It's a solid 7 from the days of rating things out of 10, which takes it to the top end of the three star range, with a particular recommendation for those who are new to the genre.