Ubisoft has milked the third-person open-world action-adventure framework to death. Immortals Fenyx Rising, the developer’s third game of the same genre in less than two months, was made by the team that previously developed Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and shares much in common with that franchise.
In Immortals, players assume control of Fenyx, a Greek soldier at the center of an epic tale being told to Zeus by the titan Prometheus, who, as per the myth, Zeus has chained to a mountain. Where God of War approached the fantasy world of Greek mythology with solemnity, Immortals has a refreshingly sarcastic tone that pokes fun at the original myths.
Though the setup is fresh, almost nothing else in Immortals is. Just like Assassin’s Creed, the open world of Immortals lends itself to vertical traversal: Fenyx can climb almost anything, and by reaching a summit, players can survey and unlock the surrounding region. Its combat is also reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed, albeit favoring more button-mashing than careful timing. Sneaking is also an option in both, but Immortal’s hack-and-slash fighting is far more polished than its stealth.
What Immortals doesn’t reuse from Assassin’s Creed, it takes from other open-world games, most blatantly Nintendo’s 2017 smash hit The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Immortals’ story itself feels derived from Breath of the Wild’s: instead of Link, the protagonist is Fenyx, a lone adventurer who must enlist the aid of fallen deities (read: Zelda’s Champions) in order to regain control of the world from a glowing red monstrous villain (Typhon, instead of Ganon).
Immortals’ most fun element is the interdimensional vaults. These are challenging levels that feature elaborate physics-based puzzles, forcing players to use various gameplay mechanics in conjunction and with proper timing. Here too, however, Immortals’ success comes from its lack of scruples. Even the best of Immortal’s vaults feels like a dumbed-down version of Zelda’s perfectly intricate, creative and original puzzle shrines.
Putting aside its egregious lack of imagination, Immortals has many elements of a competent open-world game. The cel-shaded aesthetic and exaggerated character designs suit the game’s satirical sense of humor. Its vibrant world is full of exciting adventures, menacing foes and enticing loot, while its combat, though not particularly deep, is consistently satisfying. Performance-wise, Immortals fairs better than both Watch Dogs: Legion and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, with few glitches and framerate drops.
The typical Ubisoft open-world issues are still present in Immortals, however. The map is once again stuffed to the brim with unnecessary side objectives that, after a few hours, begin to blend together. Further, progression in Immortals is a massive pain: players can upgrade Fenyx’s health, stamina, special abilities, each of the four potions and four weapons. For each upgradeable attribute, however, players must gather enough of a specific collectible. As a result, leveling-up Fenyx can be a tedious, grind-filled affair. By the time Fenyx is fully upgraded, the main story is almost over, and there is little incentive to keep exploring the world in the post-game.
Ultimately, Immortals is yet another open-world game that would have benefited from a narrower focus. Mashed in alongside genre-typical cut-and-paste elements, much of Immortals’ charm wears off before the game hits its stride. Its narrative is disposably engaging — individual episodes are fun to play in the moment, but nothing, aside from Prometheus’ and Zeus’ humorous narration, leaves a lasting impression. Much of the side content serves no purpose other than to extend the game’s length, resulting in nearly every segment lasting for too long. Despite the appealing visuals, players can’t help but eventually tune out when each combat encounter begins to feel the same.
Had Ubisoft stripped away the filler content, Immortals’ witty writing and puzzle-based gameplay may have elevated the game above generic knockoff status. As it stands, however, Ubisoft’s not-so-original new IP is capable only of providing a shallower version of more fleshed out preexisting experiences.
This review is based on the PlayStation 5 version of Immortals Fenyx Rising.
Neil Haeems is a deputy arts & entertainment editor. Contact him at [email protected].