While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild revolutionized open world games in 2017 by giving the player complete freedom again instead of a map with dozens of to-do symbols, few developers dared to copy it directly. Perhaps the influence of Nintendo's revolutionary approach has been so limited as to avoid that inevitable comparison with a masterpiece. It is precisely Ubisoft that has left its mark on the genre over the past decade, which will take the inspiration from the recent Nintendo classic for Immortals Fenyx Rising. Breath of the Wild echoes in almost every design choice, but despite the very clear parallels, Ubisoft's new IP and also third open world game in a very short time appears to have a face of its own.Bicker
The storyline that is forged around Greek mythology and especially the comic way in which it is told, is one of the aspects that contributes to that individual character. The lead role in Immortals Fenyx Rising is reserved for Fenyx. She – or he, because you determine the gender and appearance – has been stranded on the Golden Isles after a shipwreck. Fenyx also turns out to be the only one that is not petrified. Her own brother is also one of the victims and in this way the story gets a personal twist. It all turns out to be the work of the evil Titan Typhon who has escaped from the dungeons of Tartaros where Zeus imprisoned him. He immediately took revenge by stripping some of the Greek gods of their powers. Suddenly, the young shield-bearer turns out to be the prophetic hero and you set out on a quest to rescue the gods from their plight and defeat Typhon. What follows is an entertaining tale of ancient myths and mythological heroes, gods and monsters.
The story is told very lightly and with a lot of humor. Zeus and the imprisoned Prometheus are the two narrators, continuously commenting on Fenyx's adventure. They contradict each other, bicker with each other and constantly make abusive and sarcastic remarks. I could appreciate this lighthearted but anything but child-friendly tone – except for a few very lame jokes – but a sense of humor is a strange animal and for everyone different, so you may just find that storytelling tandem a turn off. Incidentally, I had more trouble with the exaggerated Greek accent of the English voice actors. Fortunately, the ears are still spoiled by the soundtrack. After all, Ubisoft brought in Gareth Coker for this, who is the composer who also wrote the fantastic music for the Ori games and again he does an excellent job here.UBIBOTW
After a prologue, Immortals Fenyx Rising completely sets you free to explore the different regions of the entire Golden Isle. The mysterious island is divided into regions and the order in which you help gods like Aphrodite, Ares or Hephaistos is entirely up to you, while the great enemy towers ominously over the center of the map. Exactly as in… exactly yes! However, the comparison with Breath of the Wild does not end there. Like Link, Fenyx can basically climb anywhere without a problem, but an endurance meter keeps her in check. The wings of Daedalus allow you to soar a bit early in the game and there are all kinds of mounts to find and tame, although the way (approach and mount them unseen) is much simpler here.
Certain skills, such as lifting heavier objects, appear to be copied via CTRL+C and CTRL+V and are used in a similar way in puzzles. These can be found in the mostly optional Vaults of Tartaros, which, like the Shrines from Breath of the Wild, contain a series of varied puzzle or combat challenges. These are not all equally original, but carefully designed. Certainly the larger vaults, which are necessary to propel the story, are much longer and serve a boss at the end, do contain some good brain teasers. You climb the statues of the gods to scan the environment. Unlike other Ubisoft titles, you must first inspect the environment that stretches out in front of you in first-person to discover and tag locations of interest if possible. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, it is said, but Ubisoft Quebec has been very greedy for inspiration in the open world Zelda. But if that produces such a nice playing game as Immortals Fenyx Rising, I don't really have any problems with that. Much of the game is focused on exploration, and the rewards give you items that allow you to improve attributes such as your max health or stamina.Divine Powers
You fight against the mythological scum with a trio of weapons (a sword, ax and bow) and a simple system of locking, parrying or dodging attacks and hitting light or hard yourself. That everyday repertoire is gradually supplemented with divine powers and other skills, such as a devastating swing with a gigantic hammer or an arrow that you can adjust in the air (powers that also prove their worth in the many puzzles, by the way). You also get a bird via a side mission, which I actually ignored for far too long. Phosphorus lends you a hand in battle. As with the rest of the game, your stamina also plays an important role here. Endlessly slashing on an enemy quickly takes your breath away, although it is mainly the divine powers that take a serious bite out of your stamina bar. You only have a limited amount of weapons and gear (which you can improve over time) and the makers' choice not to put Breath of the Wild's weapon durability system under their copier is a very good one because that's just annoying. Fights are fast and stylish, although there could have been a little more variety in the enemies. You already invest a few dozen hours in Immortals Fenyx Rising and then you are tired of those cyclopes, harpies and minotaurs.Colorful spectacle
Immortals Fenyx Rising appears on just about every platform imaginable. I played the game on the Xbox Series X and the colorful world really pops off the screen, regardless of performance or visual quality choice. Fortunately, I have not noticed screen tearing such as with Assassin's Creed: Valhalla on television sets without VRR and the loading times are nice and fast. The visual style once again evokes memories of the great inspiration Breath of the Wild and it is a joy to discover every virtual square centimeter. The different regions of the Golden Isles are also visually distinct from each other. For example, the green lawns with azure blue streams in Aphrodites area contrast sharply with the red-tinted and rather barren battlefield of Ares, but it is always a feast for the eyes. I think the design of the characters and the animals is less successful than the world they inhabit, but that doesn't spoil the fun.Conclusion
Immortals Fenyx Rising is not the unforgettable masterpiece from which the game draws a lot of inspiration, but it compares impressively well with its great example and you can't really give the game a better compliment. Ubisoft's new open world adventure has a lot of similarities, but apart from that, it also scores with a great combat system, comedic narration (although that will vary from person to person) and a visually very attractive setting that makes you want to explore every virtual square centimeter. If I am asked in the traditional year-end lists what my surprise of the game year 2020 was, Immortals Fenyx Rising will be my answer.