Technically, Ubisoft revealed the game now known as Immortals – Fenyx Rising at E3 in 2019.
We didn’t get much more than a (since changed) title, a look at the vibrant visual palette, and a general sense that it would feature a setting drawn from Greek myth. We also learned that this would be the next game from the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey team. Which, you know, is pretty good news.
Now, more than a year later, there’s a new title and a game that’s at least partially playable right this moment. I spent a couple of hours with the work-in-progress on Tuesday and I certainly liked what I saw.
At a glance, Immortals seems to be drawing on lots of sources for inspiration. The Greek connection no doubt grows out of Ubisoft Quebec’s efforts on Odyssey and its similar setting. But the combo- and special ability-heavy action-RPG vibes coupled with the abundance of loot to collect feels closer to the pace and flow of the latter day Darksiders games.
The biggest touchstone of all, however, may be Nintendo’s beloved Zelda game, Breath of the Wild. The bright colors and stylized look of Immortals‘ human and monster characters, as well as the assortment of mostly physics-based puzzles I ran into during my two-hour session, immediately bring the 2017 Switch launch game to mind.
The game casts you as Fenyx, a young man whose quest to save the gods of Greek myth takes you to their home, the Golden Isle. It seems that Typhon, a titan that Zeus imprisoned deep beneath the Earth in ages past, has escaped imprisonment and is out for revenge.
One of the titan’s first acts sees it severing the veil between humanity and Tartarus, the underworld of Greek myth. That’s not great news for people, as you might imagine, what with all the hideous monsters are pouring out. Fenyx is special as the prophesied savior of all, and so he sets out to do his “save the world” thing.
My hands-on time saw Fenyx venturing into Hephaestus’ forge, one of the seven sprawling regions – each tied to one Greek god or another – that you’ll get to explore over the course of the game. Throughout those wanderings, I was accompanied by the voices of Zeus and Prometheus, who serve as narrators and guides.
The first thing that stands out upon hearing their narration is the tone. Immortals seems to be aiming for light-hearted vibes, with the Zeus-and-Prometheus combo having the feel of a comedy duo. More than once during the demo, their chatter broke the fourth wall to directly reference the video game of it all.
Fenyx handles as well as you’d want from an action-RPG character. You’ve got your basic light and heavy attacks (along with combos for the same) as well as an array of stamina-dependent powers that you activate by pressing a face button or trigger while you’re holding down the left bumper. For those times when things get too dangerous, Fenyx also has the ability to dodge or parry.
Even in this pre-release stage, the action in Immortals feels smooth and responsive. Fenyx is an agile, little dude whose swiftness is essential as a counter to foes that can fly, shoot, or are just plain big and powerful.
If you’re already familiar with these types of games, you can expect to take to Immortals‘ combat easily. Within 10 minutes of my first encounter, I was flitting around the battlefield and mixing abilities in alongside basic attacks. Those abilities can spice things up quite a bit, too.
Hephaestus’ hammer smacks the battlefield with a giant spectral hammer, for big damage. Athena’s rush sends Fenyx sprinting forward, dishing out attacks on any enemy he charges through. I didn’t even catch the name of the ability I used the most, but it works like a grappling hook that pulls you toward the targeted enemy – great for dealing with pesky flying enemies, like the harpies I faced.
That grapple ability also plays a role in Immortals‘ puzzle solving. In one constellation puzzle, for example, I needed to explore a specific area in a search for five blue, bowling ball-sized orbs that needed to be deposited into a grid in a specific pattern, modeled after a known constellation.
The scattered set of orbs required some investigation to locate, but the real puzzle is figuring out how to obtain each of them. One was just out in the open, but the rest were hidden in various ways, including behind force fields or sealed doors. The grapple ability was essential here as a tool for moving heavy obstacles and placing stones on switches that opened the way to each orb.
Immortals – Fenyx Rising definitely aims to scratch a particular kind of itch for a particular kind of player.
I also sampled a couple of “vaults,” which are discrete puzzle spaces that involve platforming, combat, or some mix of the two. One in particular had me using Fenyx’s Wings of Daedalus – which power your glides and double-jumps – in concert with upward-flowing air drafts to “fly” from platform to platform while avoiding an assortment of increasingly tricky traps.
All of these activities lead you further in the story, yes, but they’re also how you get your hands on loot. I didn’t spend too much time digging through the menus, but the various armor and light, heavy, or ranged weapon upgrades you can collect come with all manner of enchantments.
You can also brew potions, using crafting materials scattered all over, to restore health and stamina (for sprinting, gliding, climbing, and the like), or to boost your damage and defense. It’s hard to say how involved the potion and gear upgrade pieces of the game are given the limited play time, but in true RPG fashion, it seems like there’s a lot of inventory for you to manage.
That’s especially the case given how much world there is to explore. The aforementioned constellation puzzle seemed to be entirely optional, as did a couple of the vaults I encountered. Again, these aren’t particularly surprising features for this type of game, but I’m here to report they exist!
Immortals – Fenyx Rising definitely aims to scratch a particular kind of itch for a particular kind of player. In many ways, it really does feel like the Odyssey team trying their hand (and their Greek myth expertise) in a game format that hews closer to a Darksiders-like experience. There’s nothing especially different or surprising that I saw in my preview time, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a blast tooling around a toontown-looking take on the Golden Isle.
Look for Immortals – Fenyx Rising when it arrives on Dec. 3, 2020 for… (deep breath now) Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Series X.