18/01/2021

⚔️ Immortals Fenyx Rising | Review | PS4 | "I Heart Elias Toufexis’ Voicebox" ⚔️ @FenyxRising #ImmortalsFenyxRising

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As I‘ve personally come across multiple statements along the lines of ‘Immortals Fenyx Rising is Ubisoft does Zelda: Breath of the Wild’, I’m going to lay the groundwork for this review by opening with how I wasn’t particularly enamoured with Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which I played a few years ago on the Wii U. 

I believe in my case it was plainly just burnout from chain-ganging huge, expansive open-world third-person RPGs, the last of which, just prior to Zelda: Breath of the Wild was The Witcher 3, a contender for one of my top 5 games and a title I’ve played through multiple times. 

I feel it’s important to state this as, from my perspective whilst a large amount of gameplay is derivative of Nintendo’s beloved title, some key changes, as well as a more pacey approach to gameplay, make this a much more accessible game. 

Plus, I’m not currently burned out on open-world games (as much as Watch Dogs: Legions tried).
Casting you in the customisable role of shield-bearer Fenyx, you emerge from a shipwreck onto the Golden isle to find all human residents have been turned to stone by the recently escaped god and all-round tinker, Typhon. 

The story takes place through a story being told (at length) by Prometheus to Zeus as Zeus seeks his aid in taking down Typhon and restoring order in the realm.

The humour that runs throughout the game is very quippy and fourth-wall-breaking and whilst the gimmick of your adventure being narrated in an on-going, bickering dialogue may be off-putting to some looking for a more serious or darkly-toned adventure, I found it quite amusing and perfectly in keeping with the comic-book tone of the rest of the game. 

The breeziness and daftness of the more deific characters – all come across as hoity-toity and yet churlish – matches the colourful, expansive world and sweeping orchestral soundtrack (courtesy of Gareth Coker) that accompanies you.

Those who have played Zelda: Breath of the Wild will find a lot of familiarities here in terms of movement style and especially in regards to the stamina gauge acting as a built-in limitation to how much you can initially explore. 

That said, the fact that all weapons picked up in Immortals Fenyx Rising don’t break, I personally found as a huge boon, as it continues the game’s sense of progression as driving as opposed to incremental, it also means you spend far less time in menus, micro-managing inventory and the like.
The Golden Isle is a pretty big place and as you make your way across the ‘continents’ of each god that needs to be rescued, you’ll come across a lot of rifts that can be explored and act as dungeons with a lot of loot as well as key items. 

These parts I found to be one of the game’s strongest assets as the puzzles that lay within ramp up nicely in complexity and are really satisfying (as well as being quite visually impressive) to work through. Whether it be via a marble-madness style roll-a-thon or by guiding homing-arrows to distant targets, these sections really clicked with me and were always fun to take on as a challenge.

The combat in the game is nice and weighty, you have a range of swords, axes and bows at your disposal – each of which is unique, good – and can be upgraded (along with everything else that you can think of) in the Hall of the Gods, a location which acts as the main hub at the centre of the map. 

I was especially a fan of the dodge mechanic, where an enemy has key-frames of animation which need to be learned in order to successfully evade their attacks, it makes combat intuitive and boss battles quite tense -  and yet not punishing – affairs.

The one real misstep here is in the ‘discovery’ mechanic from the key, high places on the map. It was so tediously implemented that I gave up on it after a while and instead just roamed around, seeing what I could uncover as I wandered. 

This oddly awkward feature plays out by making your way up one of the enormously tall landmarks and standing atop them. Then, you enter a first-person view and…well…slowly move the controller around blindly until it vibrates and you unlock a distant chest/puzzle/area. It’s really tedious and stands out as an oddity in a game that otherwise comes across as having quite a kinetic momentum, bizarre.
In summary, I’m a really big fan of Immortals Fenyx Rising, despite it having one of the worst ‘discovery’ mechanics in recent memory. 

I found the humour amusing and in keeping with the rest of the presentation whilst the frame-rate was an extremely steady 30 fps, even on a base PS4 console. 

If you are on the fence about this game, I’d recommend it as, whilst a game that couldn’t exist without Zelda’s title, it does take a different approach to how those base mechanics meld into gameplay. 

That said, its focus on punchiness, light-heartedness and accessibility also makes it stand out as a slightly different beast from other Ubisoft franchises so it doesn’t feel like more of the same. 

It may not have wowed me as much as Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla but this is definitely a style and franchise I’d be interested in seeing more of. And yes, Elias Toufexis voices Prometheus. Good.

Right, I’m off to ask Hermes how he gets his hair looking so luxurious.
8.5/10

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