[Immortals Fenyx Rising]Review: ‘Immortals Fenyx Rising’ is a ‘Zelda’ game without Nintendo’s magic

2021-07-08 14:46:41

  Developers know a winning formula when they see one, and it doesn’t take long before companies create their own version of a groundbreaking game.

  “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” rewrote how action-adventure games could be made, with a vast world and deep engaging puzzles that were based on physics and immersive simulations. Nintendo created a universe of problems and gave players the tools to solve them.

  Ubisoft took note and created “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” It’s a project in the same mold as “Breath of the Wild” but it takes to heart only part of that experience — mainly the exploration, puzzles and combat — and builds a reasonably good adventure out of it.


  Players can earn blessings of the gods by helping them out in the game. Aphrodite’s Embrace refills all health chunks when health is depleted. It has a 20 minute cooldown. (Ubisoft)


  As the title character, players will battle Typhon, a Titan who has overpowered the gods of Olympus in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Fenyx battles bears using Athena’s Dash in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Fresco challenges are puzzles that reward players with Coins of Charon that are important to powering up Fenyx’s abilities in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Players can find new weapons to use in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Fenyx relies on hammers, axes, bows and swords to battle against monsters in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” The “Breath of the Wild”-style adventure was my No. 10 game of the year. (Ubisoft)


  Ares is transformed into a chicken and Fenyx helps the god of war in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Hermes, right, is the first god that Fenyx meets in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Players can customize the look and sex of the protagonist in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  The Vaults of Tartaros in “Immortals Fenyx Rising” are comparable to the shrines in “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” They contain treasure that helps players advance in the quest. (Ubisoft)


  Chimera are challenging foes initially but once Fenyx powers up, players will be able to handle the monster in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Aphrodite’s Valley of the Eternal Spring is the first major area that players encounter in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  The Clashing Rocks is where Fenyx is shipwrecked in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Zeus and Prometheus lend the game some personality in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Players can glide, ride a horse, climb over mountains and run through the Golden Isles in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  The Tartarus vault will test players puzzle-solving skills in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Players can venture into a Tartarus vault in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Players can spawn a horse by holding down a button in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Players can find armor sets that augment different abilities in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Players can find armor sets that augment different abilities in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  Players can use the bow of Odysseus to shoot down flying enemies in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)


  The combat system in “Immortals Fenyx Rising” emphasizes combos. (Ubisoft)


  As Fenyx, players will explore the expansive world of the Golden Isels in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)



  Talking Protagonist

  “Immortals” follows the title character, a male or female protagonist that players create, and takes the Greek hero on a grand quest to save allies who have been turned to stone. Fenyx faces Typhon, a powerful titan once imprisoned in Tartarus who manages to escape and lay waste to the mythological gods. He robs the essences of Aphrodite, Ares, Hephaistos and Athena, turning them into other beings while corrupting the heroes sent to stop him.

  Most of the campaign is spent trying to restore everyone across the lands of the Golden Isle. It’s the type of locale that apes what’s found in “Breath of the Wild.” It’s filled with mountains, meadows and massive fissures cratered with caves. It’s a world that begs to be explored, but it’s missing one important element: people. Remember, they’ve all been turned to stone and it creates a vast emptiness amid a pretty facade.

  Ubisoft Quebec tries to fill the void with narration. Similar to “Bastion,” Fenyx’s adventure has running commentary courtesy of Zeus and Prometheus. The titan god of fire chronicles the hero’s exploits and Zeus snidely interrupts. The two are almost like sportscasters who happen to hate each other’s guts.

  The banter between the two injects personality into “Immortals” but the humor is hit and miss. At times, it can leave players rollicking but most of the time it’s a bit bland with tidbits of Greek mythology thrown in . Those who majored in Classics in college will eat up the references and asides.

  The better stories come from the weakened gods as they each have their own dramas that led to their defeat and transformation. As players help them out, they gain the gods’ blessings, which are useful perks, and they also learn more of the backstories, which revolve around Zeus in one form or another.

  At the beginning, Fenyx starts off weak. Her attacks are limited and she can only jump a few feet before plummeting to earth. Thankfully, as players progress in the campaign, she quickly grows stronger as her abilities expand. She’ll gain a double jump courtesy of the Daedalus wings and powering up that tool, she’ll be upgraded to a glide.

  Each new ability helps her with the overworld puzzles and dungeons called Vaults of Tartaros. Unfortunately, the free-form nature will sometimes leave players encountering an area that needs a specific ability. The game lets you know if you lack a specific skill, but regardless, it’s important to power up Fenyx early on with Coins of Charon. These can be obtained through mythical quests, frescoes or enormous puzzle installations scattered through the world.

  Fresco challenges are puzzles that reward players with Coins of Charon that are important to powering up Fenyx’s abilities in “Immortals Fenyx Rising.” (Ubisoft)

  Learning the language

  It takes time to learn the language of the puzzles. Fortunately, the game does a decent job of making players fluent, guiding them through the key moves used to solve basic puzzles before moving on to more advanced works. Many involve switches, shooting targets with the bow and arrow and using Herakles’ bracers to push and pull objects. The developers add new twists like floating blocks, shifting winds and other obstacles. Players won’t encounter too many brain busters compared to “Breath of the Wild,” but the more challenging puzzles will require players to perform pinpoint platforming or other tasks demanding precise execution.

  In terms of progression, Fenyx powers up fast in “Immortals.” If players thoroughly run through Vaults and other puzzles, by midgame, the adventure becomes easy. Players will have gathered enough swords, axes, helmets, bows and armor that they can customize Fenyx to their playstyle. Each piece of equipment has a stat boost that can be upgraded with adamantine shards.

  I leaned hard on stamina items and the Hammer of Hephaistos. Stamina is vital because it lets Fenyx use her most powerful moves, and it’s also required for traversal. Climbing, swimming and gliding all use stamina. Players can extend that meter by gathering Zeus’ Lightning Bolts or by using potions. The drinkable power-ups are plentiful as long as players craft them in advance, and it makes the more challenging encounters painless.

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  Although the combat eases up as Fenyx grows more powerful, it still requires skill and thoughtful use of powers. Airborne adversaries like harpies will require arrows or Herakles’ bracer abilities that whip Fenyx to her foes for air attacks. Players can combine that with a Hephaistos hammerblow and continue the skirmish by dodging attacks, which happens to freeze time, so that Fenyx can deal more damage to enemies. As the combo extends, Fenyx’s attacks can grow more powerful, and it rewards skilled players. The fighting is one of the game’s few improvements over “Breath of the Wild.”

  “Immortals Fenyx Rising” is a noteworthy attempt to capture the magic of “Breath of the Wild.” The puzzles and combat are strengths, but it’s the world building and characters that fall short. Even with the surprises, the campaign fails to draw players into the mythology that it’s trying to weave. The project has the qualities of the “Zelda” title but none of the soul of its design. Still, that could be enough for players looking for an adventure in that vein, and it’s likely to be the first of main efforts trying to capitalize on the style.

  3 stars out of 4

  Platform: Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, Amazon Luna, PC

  Rating: Teen

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