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Immortals Fenyx Rising is Ubisoft's Breath of the Wild

Immortals Fenyx Rising
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

At this point, just about everything about Immortals Fenyx Rising has been leaked except how it plays. Luckily, thanks to Ubisoft and a hands-on demo, I can shed some light on what you can expect from Ubisoft’s latest original IP. With its bright, cartoony graphics, Fenyx Rising is far from the near photo-realistic titles the company’s been churning out for the past gaming generation. And yet the open-world, action-adventure, third-person title has the potential to be just as engaging if not more so than your usual big budget AAA title.

Immortals Fenyx Rising story

Those familiar with Greek mythology might remember the Olympians war with the Titans. But if you need a refresher, the Cliffnotes version goes like this: After making his father Chronos vomit up his brothers and sisters, Zeus overthrows his father and the Titans. In the midst of this, Zeus cast down Typhon, a many-headed monster and youngest son of Gaea, into the depths of Tartarus. 

Immortals Fenyx Rising

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

In Fenyx Rising, Typhon is back and has an axe to grind with the Olympians and it's up to Fenyx, a demigod brought to the divine shores of Mount Olympus, to defeat the threat. Topple the Titan and you’ll not only save the Greek pantheon of gods, but the mortal realm as well. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. 

Immortals Fenyx Rising gameplay

Immortals Fenyx Rising

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Everyone’s been comparing Fenyx Rising to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s heady praise as BotW is one of this game generation’s finest titles. So how does Fenyx Rising stack up? From my two-hour demo, pretty darned well. It’s a beautiful open world that’s yours to explore, populated with hordes of mythical monsters for you to dispatch or avoid. You can tackle everything on foot, of course, or you can summon your trusty mechanical steed, which immediately reminded me of the Master Cycle Zero from BoTW. But what really drove home the Zelda inspiration is the running, climbing and gliding, which has tied to a finite stamina bar. 

And like Nintendo’s masterpiece, Fenyx Rising is littered with challenges to overcome in pursuit of power-ups. But instead of Spirit Orbs, you’ll be working to secure Zeus’ Thunderbolts. Similar to Zelda’s 120 shrines, Ubisoft’s nascent title will alternate challenging your platforming, puzzle solving and combat skills. During such challenges, I had to use my bow and arrows combined with my platforming skills to navigate and claim my prize while another had me battling wave after wave of enemies. 

Immortals Fenyx Rising

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

And while there are a lot of BoTW similarities, I see plenty of Kid Icarus’ DNA in the Grecian theme. It’d be cool to see the Eggplant Wizard make a cheeky cameo. And when I started battling monsters, there was just a smidge of Bayonetta in the combat mechanics. All in all, those influences make a new IP feel familiar.

But don’t get too comfortable, the more you progress in an area, the more likely you are to draw Typhon’s attention. Similar to the most recent Far Cry games, if you cause too much ruckus, Typhon will show his displeasure. In my case, it was a slew of blood-red tentacles bursting from the ground, swiping violently at me. As I run for cover, the Titan’s menacing voice intones all his malice. 

Immortals Fenyx Rising combat

Remember when I said Fenyx Rising combat is Bayonetta-reminiscent? The fighting system is a little less complex than the Umbra witch’s kickassitude, but it’s fun nonetheless. The light and heavy attack buttons are mapped to the right shoulder and trigger buttons, respectively. Once I was unleashed upon the world, it was only a matter of time before I was stringing together combos, including popping some of the weaker enemies into the air and wailing on their defenseless bodies.

Immortals Fenyx Rising

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

During my demo, I had a sword mapped to my light attacks and a meaty axe that was too heavy to really bring the pain. And if that isn’t enough, there’s several magical accoutrements that you can unleash. Holding down the left bumper and hitting one of the face buttons launched a magical attack. For example, the X button launched me shield-first into an enemy at top speed, essentially transforming me into a divine battering ram. It’s a great crowd control move. 

Need help popping up an enemy? Ares’ Wrath conjures a phalanx of spears from below. But before you think about spamming those moves, keep in mind there’s a cooldown period, so you better be well versed in using your regular attacks as well as dodging and parrying. And speaking of dodging, if you time it right, you’ll slow down time for several seconds, opening up your quarry to a bevy of unanswered attacks. I’m not sure what Ubisoft is calling this mode, but for now, I’m calling it Grecian Witch Time (GWT). 

Immortals Fenyx Rising design

Immortals Fenyx Rising

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Fenyx Rising is stunning, just as stunning as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, but in a different way. Where ACO is focused on giving you photo realism, Immortals art style has a Pixar-meets-Zelda vibe to it. Although Fenix fiery-red hair had a definite sheen to it, and you can still see individual strands of hair, there’s a stylized cartoonish look to everything that is a drastic departure from most of Ubisoft’s modern titles. The colors are bright and vibrant to the point that it's almost lurid. However, scaling a large cliff and taking in the world is an awe-inspiring experience. I’m excited to explore every nook and cranny when the game launches.

Immortals Fenyx Rising customization

Immortals Fenyx Rising

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Fenyx will have a plethora of weapons and armor to choose from and, unlike BoTW, it doesn’t look like any of it breaks or powers down after too much use. New weaponry and armor can be earned by defeating certain bosses or by forging your own. It appears that each piece of gear will have its own stats and special properties to help you deal with everything Typhon throws at you. For instance, after relighting Hephaistos’ forge, I got some steampunk-esque armor that increased damage dealt with the forge god’s hammer. In another encounter, I earned a new bow named Temptress that increased bow damage. 

Immortals Fenyx Rising music

Immortals Fenyx Rising

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

The music for Immortals is just what you’d expect –– epic. The track is filled with swelling violins and pulsating drums. When my axe or sword hit an enemy with a shield, there was a weighty clang with a slight reverb. But for me, the best part of the audio is the narration, which is taken care of by Prometheus with some color commentary from Zeus. They’re banter is fun and witty and adds a sense of whimsy you don’t really get from games like this. I’m hoping that more gods and goddesses will make an appearance throughout the tale and take the mic. 

Bottom line

Ubisoft looks to have another hit on its hands. Immortals Fenyx Rising has all the trappings you’d expect from a AAA title. The open world is large and sprawling, the enemies big and hulking with plenty of side quests and customization. The cartoony art style is fun and off the beaten track for Ubisoft games. This might turn off a few fans but if you’re looking for an action-adventure title to bring in the new year, this is the game for you.