Immortals Fenyx Rising hands-on preview

By Heidi Nicholas,
Immortals Fenyx Rising is an open-world action-adventure game with RPG elements thrown in, set in the world of Greek mythology, and all tied up in a gorgeous storybook art style. And Immortals Fenyx Rising is gorgeous: that’s the clearest impression from those first screenshots when the game was announced, and that was the first thing I noticed when I started the demo.

Immortals Fenyx Rising

You might be wondering what Ubisoft is doing differently to make Immortals its own unique game, after having launched a 100+ hour Greek mythology game with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in 2018. Aside from the art style, Immortals is completely different in tone, story, and gameplay. AC Odyssey enjoyed a few silly moments, but was weighed down with a more serious tone. Any anachronistic elements, such as Kassandra happily riding through Ancient Greece on a sparkly unicorn, stood out as just what they were: exceptions to an otherwise researched, “realistic” depiction of the ancient world. Immortals does not even consider taking itself so seriously. Creative director Jonathan Dumont has said the game is “lighthearted,” and that “building an Assassin’s Creed game limits what you can tap into… Myths can be really colourful, they can be funny, or they can be dangerous… so it allows you to work in a different spectrum than something like a historical setting.” While I played through the demo, Zeus would interrupt the narrative to complain it was taking too long, to take offence at Fenyx rooting through the Golden Isle for supplies, or to recommend Hermes goes out to get a takeaway.

The combat matches this joking, colourful take on mythology. With the Wings of Daedalus, Fenyx can fight on the ground and in the air, and with this exaggerated, over-the-top style of combat, a number of enemies are so enormous that you’ll need to launch into the air just to reach them. Fenyx’s weapons are just as oversized. While Kassandra and Alexios’s powers stopped just short of being asked to join the Avengers, that power was visible more in its effects on enemies. In Immortals, Fenyx unleashes the massive Hephaestus's Hammer to decimate foes, or pulls a ring of arrows straight out of the ground. I mostly relied on these powerful abilities. It felt pretty natural to switch between light and heavy sword attacks, perfect dodges, aiming with the bow, and the abilities, but those abilities definitely pack the most punch, making it even more satisfying when your enemy goes flying off into the distance or dissolves into smoking embers.

Immortals Fenyx Rising

You’ll be exploring, fighting, and solving puzzles throughout Immortals. Fenyx can glide, climb, sprint, swim, and ride a horse, and the Breath of the Wild inspiration is clear here too with a stamina bar which tells you just how long you have before Fenyx runs out of energy. Once you’ve heard poor Fenyx yelling in terror while zooming toward the earth, it might make you think a little more about stamina management. The Wings of Daedalus took a little getting used to, but by the end of the demo it felt natural to switch between sprinting and gliding. Jumping to the right height to engage winged enemies, such as those harpy-like creatures, also felt a little clunky at first, but this will probably feel more fluid when progressing naturally through the game. The controls for Fenyx’s mount felt nice and smooth, and again the game didn’t trouble itself with being too ‘real’: some games have the horse come galloping up behind you as if it just happened to be chilling nearby, but the Immortals horse sort of explodes into being underneath Fenyx.

The non-combat abilities will again be familiar to Breath of the Wild players. One ability lets you manoeuvre boulders and boxes, telekinesis-style, onto weighted platforms to solve puzzles. Like in AC Odyssey, another ability lets you guide an arrow, but with far more control, and these came in handy for a number of puzzles, helping to light arrows by sending them through fire, or opening doors by placing heavy weights onto pressure plates. These abilities again took some getting used to — for instance, to remember which buttons keep you using that particular ability, guiding the arrow, and slowing it down before it zooms past the target — but they are a lot of fun to use. Puzzle-solving is a major part of the game. Some are their own separate entities, hidden across the map for you to find and complete, but light-puzzle solving also seems to run through the main thread of the narrative. Part of a main mission had me helping Hephaestus to relight his forges, and in doing so, I needed to clear out the enemies guarding each forge, figure out how to get the coal where it needed to be, and then how to light it. This kept each part of the quest feeling fresh and added something to gameplay, rather than just defeating enemies over and over again.

Immortals Fenyx Rising

In Immortals, Fenyx has been shipwrecked onto the Golden Isle and is tasked with helping the gods regain their powers to defeat Typhon, a deadly beast of Greek mythology. It seems Fenyx will be helping each god in turn. Hephaestus, for instance, is the Greek god of fire and forges, and the blacksmith for the other Olympians, and his Forge Lands were modelled around that idea with mechanical enemies, crumbling sculptures, and an arid, volcanic feel. Hephaestus’s lands were only one part of the map, and other gods will rule over other, vastly different environments, such as Aphrodite’s Plains, with the player returning to the Hall of the Gods as a hub area of sorts.

Immortals Fenyx Rising

Given that the demo took place partway through the game, the amount of items, collectables, and on-screen icons seemed a little overwhelming at first. With just the D-pad, you’ve got your health potions, along with pomegranates (which seem to heal a little health), your stamina potions and the blue mushrooms which can be used to refill it, and the attack and defence potions. Then there’s everything else: Olympian figs, coins of Charon (used to upgrade items at the Hall of the Gods), amber gems, gold gems, gems of every colour, things that you hit and they explode into nice shiny shards, things that you pluck to go into your inventory, and a whole lot of other stuff. From the look of it, being a regular hero in an Olympian world is going to take a lot of equipment.

Gods & Monsters

Yet all that stuff is part of what makes exploration so fun. Aside from finding all of those consumables, there’s also a whole world of loot. Fenyx will be completely customisable, and just in the demo I came across a number of pieces of gear. AC Odyssey had some cool armour, but you could also get bogged down in 100 identical pairs of Bandit Sandals. Each piece of gear in Immortals, on the other hand, is distinctly different. Even without the associated buffs and stats, it would be worth collecting each piece just for the cosmetic differences and for how cool they look when combined. I found a mechanical-themed set with steam puffing out from the shoulders, as well as a revelry-themed piece of gear with a leaf-like design. Aside from all the loot, the world of Immortals is chock-full of chests, puzzles, enemies, and vaults — another key part of the game. The main villain Typhon is a deadly creature who, according to the myths, challenged Zeus for control of the cosmos before being cast into Tartarus, the worst realm of the underworld, where the Titans are kept. In Immortals, Typhon is back and not at all happy about how he was treated. In the myths, Zeus defeated Typhon with thunderbolts, and in the game, these thunderbolts are locked within the vaults. Having Fenyx hop into the rifts transports them to a starry, otherworldly realm to solve puzzles, claim back a thunderbolt to upgrade stamina.

Immortals Fenyx Rising

There’s a definite Assassin’s Creed look to the in-game menus, as well as a familiar feel in the eagle-like screeches of Phosphorus, your phoenix companion, and a slight Fields of Elysium vibe in the layout of the region. We’re still learning about what’s changed in the game along with its name, but there did seem to be a few differences: instead of Homer, it was narrated by a patient Prometheus and a bored Zeus. Instead of the Isle of the Blessed, it was the Golden Isle. And instead of having Phosphorus swoop down to help you glide around, Fenyx was able to use the Wings of Daedalus to glide independently.

Gods & Monsters

During my time with the demo, I fought lions, harpies, and bears, a range of mechanical enemies, a boss fight with an automaton, and even the corrupted wraith of Achilles — it seems Typhon's able to recruit all sorts of helpers. Immortals features a range of opponents, including gorgons and cyclopes, and it looks as though the enemies I faced might have been native to the Forge Lands. I charged through the main mission first, relighting four forges and facing a final boss battle, before being unleashed to explore the world. You can drop pins across the map, which is especially helpful given that you can’t ride from one point of interest to another without passing a dozen other intriguing areas on the way. For instance, riding from a puzzle to a treasure chest had Fenyx pass by a gouged-out sort of canyon, filled with enemies and more promising goodies. While solving a puzzle high up on the cliff, I caught sight of a tiny island far away. I didn’t have enough time to get to it, but the amount of temptingly glinting objects and obstacles still has me wondering. What did I miss? What loot would have been there?

Immortals is still in development, and while some parts felt a little clunky or unpolished, the game already has set itself apart as its own distinct adventure, which I can’t wait to pick up when it launches on December 3rd. Ubisoft shared some new trailers during its recent digital event: take a look at the world premiere trailer and 101 trailer from the devs.
Heidi Nicholas
Written by Heidi Nicholas
Hey, I'm Heidi! I've just finished studying a Masters in English Literature, but I've been obsessed with gaming since long before then. I began on the PS2 with Spyro, before graduating to the Xbox 360 and disappearing into Skyrim. I'm now a loyal RPG fan, but I still like to explore other genres — when I'm not playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey, or being lured back into Red Dead Redemption 2 or The Witcher 3!