Release Date: December 3rd, 2020
Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
Ubisoft has been a publisher that heavily relies on releasing new sequels of their franchises while bringing one brand new IP a year. Luckily for gamers, they are known to nurture these new franchises even if the initial offering is not the best. This is how we have series like Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, and The Division currently. Unlucky for gamers, the initial games are usually not too great – The Division probably was the closest we had come thus far. In 2020, Ubisoft unleashed Immortals Fenyx Rising to unsuspecting gamers. I honestly have consciously delayed writing this review as I was leaning towards a particular score and did not want to feel I was giving that score in the heat of the moment. Purposefully delaying myself has reenforced my thoughts, and those thoughts are why you are here. So without further ado…
First and foremost, the elephant in the room. The “very obvious Breath Of The Wild influences.” It is easy to see where these came from, but has everyone forgotten that Breath Of The Wild was influenced by Ubisoft open world games? Most notably the unlocking regions by scouting from a tall point in the map. Immortals Fenyx Rising does incorporate dungeons and cartoonish graphics, but neither are specific to Breath Of The Wild, nor Zelda games in general. It really is a chicken or the egg scenario that I ultimately have to say that Immortals Fenyx Rising has more in common with its Ubisoft brethren than any other specific game. I will also hint at the score here by saying, Ubisoft did it better than Nintendo. Blasphemy I know, but Breath Of The Wild was weak in areas that I personally needed it to be stronger at.
One of those key areas is the story. Breath Of The Wild had an outline of a good story, but Immortals Fenyx Rising has a compelling, unique, and fleshed out story from beginning to end. This story is also helped by it being based on Greek Mythology, which I have always personally been a fan of. That fact also again points to the fact this game is more Assassin’s Creed than Breath Of The Wild, as the former likes to plant its character into a real historical setting. Immortals Fenyx Rising also uses a charming and humorous running commentary between Prometheus and Zeus to keep the story going, while also keeping a lighter tone in relation to the darker story unfolding under their banter. This tongue in cheek, self aware commentary is also one reason why Sunset Overdrive was one of my favorite games of last generation. Throughout Immortals Fenyx Rising, the player will encounter and free Aphrodite, Ares, Hephaistos, and Athena from the captive of Typhon.
As the player helps the various gods, the gods will reward the player with blessings that will help in combat as the game progresses. This mechanic, along with the stamina gauge, are the most influenced from Breath Of The Wild. That being said, the developers of Immortals Fenyx Rising have improved over that game in many different ways. The first being that the weapons will not break. This was one of the biggest complaints of the former game. The latter also goes a step beyond that and lets the player upgrade the weapons they have. This helps players build a “load out” that works with their playing style as opposed to being stuck trying to attack with a wooden torch. The combat is silky smooth, especially in performance mode, with the boss battles being just challenging enough to cause players to take a step back and learn about the movements of the boss.
Speaking of performance mode, this review is based on playing the Xbox Series X optimized version. Having played in both performance and quality mode, I greatly prefer using the former in this instance. While quality mode makes the game stand out more graphically, the hack and slash based combat begs for the timing precision that the 60 FPS gives in performance mode. That aside, the graphics are still really pretty and serves the game perfectly. Well…outside of the face models, mainly the player’s character. This is a minor quibble though as it is only shown in cutscenes. While there has been some bugs and glitches found by players, I have personally not come across any. Nor has there been anything that has detracted from my sheer enjoyment of the game.
In conclusion, Immortals Fenyx Rising is the most fun I have had playing a game since Sunset Overdrive. Releasing in December, as the last of the Ubisoft Three, and around the same time as Cyberpunk 2077, was naturally going to cause Immortals Fenyx Rising to get lost in the shuffle by gamers. Those same gamers should make plans to pick up this game as soon as possible since the game is the best gaming experience of the holiday releases. It is also the best new game currently optimized for the current generation. We rarely give perfect scores, I think we have a total of two, but this game benefitted from its release window and the fact it is a game that improves on predecessors while hitting on a topic/story that does not receive many, if any, gaming adaptations. Which is a shame, but helps make this game that much more special. (Ryan Williford; Gaming Editor)
Review copy provided by Ubisoft.