I recently got to go hands-on with Immortals Fenyx Rising, formerly known as Gods & Monsters, for two and a half hours during a remote demo session with Ubisoft. The Greek mythical tale mixes elements of Assassin's Creed Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to create what is looking to be a captivating experience. I knew little about the game going into it other than the art style and premise, and I walked away feeling confident in Ubisoft's vision.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is an open-world action/adventure game inspired by Greek mythology, but it's imbued with its own silly sense of humor to keep it from being too serious. It's clear Ubisoft wants to appeal to a wide audience, which can't be said for the M-rated Assassin's Creed series. Immortals is definitely geared toward a younger crowd than some of Ubisoft's other titles, even though it has a high stakes "save the world" story.
Typhon, one of the deadliest and evil Greek beings, is freed from Tartarus and destroys the veil between it and humanity on his quest for revenge against the other gods. The Golden Isle, where the game takes place, has fallen into chaos. It's up to our hero, Fenyx, to earn the blessings of the gods and use their mythical abilities to take Typhon and his minions down for good.
My journey began some hours into the game where my character was already specced out around mid-level. While there are seven distinct regions in the Golden Isles, each based on a Greek god, only The Forgelands, home of Hephaistos, was available for my demo. My mission was to rekindle the Forge of Hephaistos by lighting the furnaces surrounding it. After battling some monsters guarding a furnace, I needed to find a piece of coal, launch it into the furnace, and find a fire source to light it with. There was a little bit of puzzle solving needed here, but not much.
Zeus and Prometheus narrate the events like characters pulled straight out of a Disney movie, acting as comedic relief and bickering like an old married couple. The title sequence for the demo even begins with Zeus presenting "the video game formerly known as Gods & Monsters." Prometheus then goes on to joke that Ubisoft, which Zeus mispronounced, is actually pronounced "Eh-bi-soft," to which Zeus responds by chiding "the French." This appears to be the tone and type of humor that Ubisoft is going for in Immortals Fenyx Rising, and it definitely works in its favor to separate the game from the pack.
Once the forge was rekindled, I gained access to the forge and got a taste of my first boss battle, Clanking Automaton Lieutenant. He hits moderately hard but is generally slow, using ranged attacks like rockets and lasers to hit you from afar. If you keep on the move and dodge at the right times, you should be able to take him out with several hits from your godly abilities without too much difficulty. Aside from these abilities, the combat is mostly hack and slash.
I encountered much more difficult optional bosses than him that could easily kill me in two hits. These required a lot more attention and precise timing to dodge out of the way of any incoming attacks. Strategy was mostly the same for each boss though. Dodge, use some godly abilities, drink a health potion, maybe get in some ranged shots with my bow — rinse and repeat. It didn't feel repetitive in my time playing, but who's to say it won't after dozens of hours.
Once I had free reign of The Forgelands, I got to see what Immortals really had to offer. It's a lot like Breath of the Wild. A stamina meter accompanies you that is used for almost everything you do, including running, climbing, swimming, and gliding with your wings. There are puzzle platforming sections akin to what you'd find in Nintendo's title, even featuring a type of ability similar to magnesis, allowing Fenyx to carry heavy objects at a distance. At one point inside a Vault of Tartarus, which tests your agility, puzzle solving, and combat through various trials, I played pinball because sure, why not?
Many of the puzzles I came across rewarded me with either new weapons or materials that could be used for upgrading Fenyx's gear. There are light RPG mechanics in the game in this regard. I'm hoping the full game has an even greater variety of puzzles and secret locations to explore. Part of the fun is discovering something new to do.
The skill trees were locked down for my demo and the game progression system wasn't shown, but I did get a taste of what they have to offer. Many of these tended to be passive skills, improving your ability to climb, swim, and jump, but a few were geared toward combat. Your godly abilities and skills can all be upgraded throughout the game.
The biggest unknown for me at this point is how well the story holds up. I only got to play through a small fraction of it, and I wasn't given a ton of explanation for why I was rekindling the forge. This is the downside of a two hour demo in a game that will likely be dozens of hours long. I have no indication as to where the narrative will go from here, or who I'll be interacting with. I don't know where to put my expectations.
The only other people in the game besides myself were Zeus and Prometheus, narrating the events, and Typhon. I didn't encounter any NPCs that weren't enemies. I'd like to see villages or something in the game where I can actually talk and interact with other characters.
I really enjoyed my time with Immortals Fenyx Rising and immediately wanted to play more after my demo session was over. I can't speak for the final product — maybe it ends up being shallow and can't sustain 50 hours worth of content and gameplay — but I have high hopes from the demo.
The game formerly known as Gods & Monsters — now Immortals Fenyx Rising — went from being a game kind of on my radar to probably a Day One buy.
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