Title: Immortals Fenyx Rising
Release Date: December 3, 2020
Reviewed On: PS5
I’ll be honest, Immortals Fenyx Rising really caught my eye when it was first announced. Aside from dealing with Greek gods and mythos, an already green flag for me, the world itself looked absolutely stunning and vibrant. I have become used to very drab, dull environments in open worlds, but thankfully, Immortals Fenyx Rising counteracts that consistent tradition with something a bit more upbeat. While there is a great deal of witty, jokey banter that fails to hit, this game’s explorative depth more than made up for that qualm of mine.
Immortals Fenyx Rising has players control the protagonist, Fenyx, who is completely customizable appearance-wise. Character-wise, however, Fenyx is their own personality, and the game sure tries its hardest to remind you of that fact. There’s this admittedly annoying habit of trying to make almost every exchange come off as a joke. That isn’t to say that it’s completely void of legitimately wholesome, meaningful character interaction.
Still, they felt too far between the masses of exchanges where they tried too hard to be funny. That is the only real prevalent issue I had with the writing, though, because aside from that, the story does a decent job of setting up the context of what players should care about and why they should care.
To condense the beginnings of the story as much as possible, Typhon, the primary antagonist, seeks to take vengeance against the Olympian gods by stripping them of their powers and godly essences. For the most part, Fenyx Rising is told from Zeus and Prometheus’ narration, who have partaken in a bet. If a mortal can best Typhon, then Prometheus must be freed from his imprisonment, but if vice versa occurs, then Prometheus must help Zeus.
After being introduced to the wager and the narrative’s preambles, players meet the protagonist, Fenyx, who ends up on a journey to save the gods from their ill fates. The story is nothing special, but there are some cleverly woven moments of writing. Zeus and Prometheus are simply anchors of the plot, but they occasionally use their position as narrators quite effectively by altering the tale as they see fit due to pettiness. Their banter can also be humorous at points, but as I said earlier, this game has a case of ‘trying too hard to be funny’ syndrome.
Players have a massive world they can play around in to their heart’s content, and the breathtaking art style only accentuates the fun. There are honestly some moments where I was quite literally in awe of some scenery. Several environments in this game look picturesque, and they made me stand still and smell the roses for a while.
As for the gameplay itself, Immortals Fenyx Rising does not reinvent the wheel, but it provides more than adequate enjoyment. Combat is akin to a standard action game where players can use either light attacks or strong attacks, block, parry, and use various abilities to turn the tides in their favor. Enemies have a health meter, which is self-explanatory, and a stun gauge that decreases when hit with strong attacks.
The environment plays a vital role in combat since players can throw around rocks and other such debris to stun enemies faster. The combat felt fun with how varied a direction you can take during encounters, and the lack of any true uniqueness from it all never came off as a detriment. If anything, I can appreciate the developers playing it safe and smart with a component as key as combat.
Traversal, however, is, unfortunately, an area where this title somewhat lacks. Fenyx can sprint and eventually gains wings that make movement quite fun, but there is a noticeable lack of fast travel points. You can also ride mounts, which further help with movement, but still, I would have appreciated some more fast travel points or at least a method to create your own custom fast travel points.
The world is full of rifts, which lead to a variety of puzzles or combative arena segments. The puzzles in most of these rifts were pretty enjoyable. They were rarely ever challenging, but they always felt satisfying to complete. The actual overworld has its fair share of puzzles, too, so there were always areas where accomplishments and progress could be made. Overall, the title does a fantastic job of balancing the puzzle and combat frequency. The scale never tipped too far in either direction, which was wonderful since I rarely ever found myself feeling taxed by the same old, same old.
As with every open-world title, Immortals Fenyx Rising has its fair share of collectibles strewn about the entirety of the map. These can range from ambrosia, which is used to upgrade your health, to treasure chests of many varieties hiding precious loot. These act just as you would normally expect from any other open-world game, but the gameplay loop of discovery and achievement is still quite addicting and enjoyable.
Much of this game’s enjoyment comes from you going for these collectibles and exploring the world at your leisure, which, considering how gorgeous the world is, that alone does a great job of incentivizing exploration. The one oddity I had with the world was how void of civilization it felt. It created an interesting dichotomy with the colorful setting, and it is by no means an inherent flaw. Still, I would have appreciated some more individuals in the vicinity to make the area feel truly alive aside from just foliage and monsters.
Having played this title on PlayStation 5, the performance felt buttery smooth, and nothing problematic ever occurred during my time playing. The inclusion of haptic feedback with certain actions such as drawing arrows and shooting them via the bow provided a level of immersion in ranged combat that I was not quite expecting. However, this can be attributed to my lack of experience and time with haptic feedback. I can’t comment on other platforms, but the PlayStation 5 release felt faultless during my time with it.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is an entertaining open-world title with tons of explorative depth, combative choice, and gorgeous visuals. The writing’s urgency to be as funny as possible is a bit of a turn-off, but beyond that, this is a standout adventure. While not a genre revolutionizer, Immortals Fenyx Rising plays to the genre’s strengths and can easily grant players dozens upon dozens of hours of great fun.
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