Immortals Fenyx Rising review: A late contender for Game of the Year

This is a must-buy game for the upcoming holidays.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Hall Of The Gods
(Image: © Windows Central)

Immortals Fenyx Rising wasn't on my radar when it was announced a couple of years ago — known then as Gods & Monsters. It wasn't on a lot of people's radars due to how it bears a resemblance to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Assassin's Creed Odyssey in different aspects.

However, after going hands-on with it during a couple of Immortals preview events, I was sold. While I initially wasn't sure if that feeling would carry over to the final product after a couple dozen hours, I can happily say it did.

It's never easy to create a video game, and it can be especially difficult to create a new IP. Immortals Fenyx Rising doesn't feel like retreaded territory. Ubisoft threaded a fine needle in crafting a world uniquely its own while taking inspiration from popular titles on the market already.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Story and characters

Immortals Fenyx Rising Herakles

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
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TitleImmortals Fenyx Rising
Xbox VersionXbox Series X
Game Size35.1GB
Play Time25 hours
Xbox Game PassNo
Launch Price$60

The plot of Immortals is easy to follow. After being stranded on the Golden Isle during a storm, Fenyx, a person who you can choose to be either male or female, awakens to find their brother and crew turned to stone. As they soon discover, the Golden Isle is home to the Greek gods but has fallen into chaos as Typhon, one of the deadliest titans, escaped from Tartaros to exact revenge on the gods who imprisoned him. In order to save their brother, Fenyx decides to help the gods get their power back and defeat Typhon.

Anyone with even an inkling of Greek mythology will know some of the names in Immortals Fenyx Rising. The entire game is narrated by Zeus and Prometheus as if it were the retelling of an epic. Hermes, Ares, Hephaistos, Aphrodite, and Athena also all play prominent roles. Of course, they're all children of Zeus (except Prometheus) because who hasn't he fathered? (It's a running joke throughout the game.) Getting to see these gods interact with one another is a delight, especially with the humor that Immortals uses. At times, it's borderline adult humor while still keeping it PG-13 for kids.

There are a few twists and turns throughout the narrative that I definitely didn't see coming — specifically where it pertains to Fenyx's brother and his allegiances and past heroics — and a few I did. It's a mixed bag in that regard. The big reveal at the end, of Fenyx becoming a demi-god falls a little flat because marketing materials already labeled Fenyx as one, It's still a satisfying ending, but it lacks the shock I think the team was going for.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Gameplay and combat

Immortals Fenyx Rising Chimera

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The combat in Immortals is incredibly easy to pick up. You have basic light and heavy attacks with the right bumper and right trigger, and a slew of godly abilities at your disposal. One such ability that I defaulted to using over and over was Hephaistos' hammer. It uses up a good chunk of stamina, but it's a heavy hitter that helps with mobs. You can upgrade these abilities and your weapons to do more damage over time as well.

To upgrade a lot of your abilities and health, you'll need to collect resources throughout the world. Vaults of Tartaros, excluding a few that are mainly combat challenges, focus a lot on puzzles and navigation and reward you with Zeus' lightning, which can then be used to increase your stamina. Ambrosia, a rarer resource found throughout the world, usually in hard to reach places, is used to upgrade your health. By completing mythical challenges, which can range from navigation puzzles, memorizing lyre chords, putting together a fresco, archery challenges, and more, you'll earn Coins of Charon that will upgrade your skills and godly abilities.

I never wanted to put the controller down.

These puzzles are some of the best parts of Immortals. There's such a variety that they rarely feel repetitive even when borrowing mechanics from one another. One vault even has an ancient version of pinball that you can play. Solving them and being rewarded is even better.

Going to and from these locations could have been boring, but Ubisoft made it run with the Wings of Daidalos, allowing Fenyx to glide through the air and effectively fly across regions. It uses up some stamina so you'll need to manage it properly lest you fall to your death, but it sure beats running everywhere. I used this method of travel when possible, and I never wanted to put the controller down.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Weapons Menu

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

What disappointed me was its lack of a proper endgame. The final mission before taking on Typhon is a point of no return, meaning you can't actually go back to the island once you complete the game unless you start a New Game+. Instead you'll just end up right back to where it saved prior to beginning the final mission. I don't particularly like these point of no return situations, but it feels like it noticeably hurt what Immortals could have been after the main story. There was a lot that Ubisoft could have done once Typhon was out of the picture, maybe even open up new areas and challenges, but instead I'm stuck cleaning up all of the vaults and puzzles I haven't completed while that mission sits in the corner of my screen mocking me.

Despite this, you do get to keep a final mission reward from Zeus even if you decided to hop into an earlier save before beating it. And because enemies seem to level with you, you won't feel overpowered by the time you finish the game. As you upgrade Fenyx, enemies evolve, in a sense, appearing with new looks and different attack patterns. These aren't just normal enemies with some more health. They genuinely fight differently, and you'll need to adjust your attacks accordingly.

Immortals Fenyx Rising World design

Immortals Fenyx Rising Flying Valley Eternal Spring

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Even just looking at screenshots of Immortals can take your breath away, but getting to experience it in motion is something else. The Golden Isle is comprised of seven regions: Clashing Rocks, Valley of Eternal Spring, The Forgelands, War's Den, Grove of Kleos, King's Peak, and the Gates of Tartaros. They're all fairly unique filled with diverse environments, but it does seem like Ubisoft doubled up on regions in a sense. The Forgelands and War's Den are both arid, dry environments with rocky terrain. The Valley of Eternal Spring and Grove of Kleos are these gorgeous, lively environments full of grass and trees. Still, there are enough different points of interest in each to set them apart, like giant monster skeletons and buildings.

Even just looking at screenshots of Immortals can take your breath away.

These regions are also home to secrets of their own, and discovering them while you're casually exploring gives you a sense of accomplishment. It could be anything from a hidden puzzle leading to a treasure chest or a quick side mission that takes you across a few islands. It's always exciting to see what rewards you get at the end. One side mission took me to an area outside of Clashing Rocks and I ended up finding an epic mount as a result. Now I get to traverse the Golden Isle on a Pegasus (sadly, it does not fly).

Immortals Fenyx Rising Mount Olympus Puzzle

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Though the entire world is open from the get-go after you finish the first section in Clashing Rocks, Immortals Fenyx Rising encourages players to revisit areas after they upgrade Fenyx a bit. There are certain puzzles and challenges that you can't do without specific abilities. Barring King's Peak, though, you're free to explore the island at you will, and I'm happy areas weren't level-gated in any way.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Performance

Immortals Fenyx Rising Fenyx Essence

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Immortals Fenyx Rising offers two graphics modes on Xbox Series X, one that favors frame rate and performance, and another that favors graphical fidelity and effects. I opted for the later, which ran the game at 4K and 30FPS.

Though the frame rate was smooth for the most part, the game did end up freezing several times to a point where I'd need to go to my dashboard and close the game entirely. Thankfully, Immortals is generous with auto-saves so I never lost too much progress, but this is a problem that needs fixing. Ubisoft said that an update will be going live on Nov. 30 with fixes to the optmization mode and a day one patch, so hopefully these performance issues can be solved by full release.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Should you buy?

Immortals Fenyx Rising Medusa

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Ubisoft created another franchise here, one with the same potential as Assassin's Creed in terms of where it can take players in the future. There's a wealth of mythology to pull inspiration from, and we'll see that in some of its expansions. For what it is at launch, I had an incredible time with it. The world is amazing, there's a real sense of discovery, and the combat is engaging. Combined with its humor, it makes for an excellent game.

It's a shame it released so late in the year because I think it easily deserves a spot on Game of the Year lists. Immortals Fenyx Rising is everything I love about games. It has humor, great combat, and the potential for so much more in sequels. I'm glad it released during such a downer year to offer a little bit of light. If you were even remotely interested in it from any of its trailers, I highly recommend you check it out.

Jennifer Locke

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life, and is very happy Xbox is growing a stronger first-party portfolio. You can find her obsessing over Star Wars and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.