Take A Breath

Ubisoft’s latest open-world effort started from the working title ‘Gods and Monsters’ but popular opinion has given it a different name. From comments to reviews, ‘Breath of the Wild meets Assassin’s Creed‘ has become the popular description. Wouldn’t fit on the game case, sure, but it rolls off the tongue about as well as Immortals: Fenyx Rising. If this new franchise is to rise, can it stand without leaning on its contemporaries?

Even if it wasn’t the end of the year, Fenyx is entering a crowded market. It’s certainly not the first game to take a swing at Nintendo’s redefinition of its Legend of Zelda franchise. Or even the first to delve into Greek mythology, thanks to Ubisoft’s AC Odyssey team on dev duty here. Franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Legend of Zelda can’t help being products of their combined influences. 

playable version of the ‘let me copy your homework’ meme.

Olympic Gains

Each new installment, however, is an opportunity to take the series in a different direction. Fenyx does several things to stand apart from its forerunners. From jump, the game introduces the Ganon of the piece: Typhon, a Titan older than the gods of Olympus. He’s decided to give the whole Greek pantheon the Kratos of Sparta treatment, forcing Zeus and any other survivors to flee.

Seeking help from cursed god Prometheus, Zeus cuts a bargain with him. In exchange for his freedom, Prometheus tells the tale of Fenyx: a human destined to defeat Typhon. As the duo lay down their Statler & Waldorf commentary track, the player gets to decide what their version of the protagonist looks like. Customization is limited, but goes a long way to giving the player a sense of authorship to the myth Prometheus is telling. 

My Fenyx turned out all right, tho.

This is a taste of the controls, which is where Fenyx truly shines. Gliding, riding, puzzling, battling, and leveling up in the land of the gods is easy to pick up, as well as personalize. The biggest surprise is the influence taken from character action games. The game’s combat-centric skill trees recall the ‘Legend of Zelda meets Devil May Cry’ fusion that became the Darksider series. 

Ancestral Plain

As mentioned, Zeus and Prometheus are the double act that comment on every major moment or location in the game. This provides context for many of the myths that I:/FR references, but the constant attempts at comedy are more miss than hit. Aggravating this are the designs of the characters themselves. In terms of personality, the dialogue and the CG are somewhere around ‘whatever your least favorite Dreamworks movie is’.

Ole 1-800-GENERAL lookin’-ass.

As this generation of gaming comes to a close, Immortals: Fenyx Rising feels like a greatest hits cover album of the last half-decade. Assembling this sample platter of various gameplay styles points to Ubisoft’s biggest take-away from Breath of the Wild as ‘be less Ubisoft’…which, honestly, is not a bad place to start. 

Unfortunately, in terms of aesthetics the game can’t quite go the distance. What’s here is a very promising first draft of a modern franchise — assuming it survives the Ubisoft business model. Those looking to hop aboard would be better served waiting for a sale that includes all of the DLC. 

8.25 Ambrosia Out of 10

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  • Live-action cartoon character, based on the tie-in manga inspired by the video game. Previous residences include The Disney Afternoon, the Turtle Lair, and Santa Destroy. Will edit for pizza and graphic novels.

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