What I'm Playing - No. 173
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:
Immortals Fenyx Rising (PS5)
A young shieldbearer named Fenyx becomes shipwrecked on the Golden Isle, and after washing up on shore, realizes that the rest of the ship’s crew and the inhabitants of the island have all been turned to stone. They soon learn that Typhon has escaped Tartarus and taken over the island, stealing the powers away from four of the Gods. With everyone else on the island turned to stone, it’s up to Fenyx to restore the Gods to their former glory and defeat Typhon.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is a 2020 open-world action adventure game developed by Ubisoft Quebec. I played it on PS5, but it’s available on pretty much every current platform: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Switch, PC, and even Google Stadia (RIP Stadia - 2019-2023). You can probably pick it up for cheap these days too, I got my copy new on eBay for only US$7 plus shipping. It’s a really nice looking game, some of the landscapes as you explore look fantastic. You choose whether to play as a male or female character, and you can customize Fenyx’s appearance.
Something you might have noticed from seeing the footage is that this game takes a lot of inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. They share a number of concepts: a stamina meter, the ability to climb anything, self-contained dungeons with either a puzzle or combat challenge to overcome, taming horses, gliding through the air, both games are open world experiences full of these elements. They even have similar main story structures, where you start in an isolated tutorial area but have free reign of the world after that and need to rescue four powerful allies from the bad guy. While there may be lots of similarities, playing this game doesn’t feel all that similar to Breath of the Wild. Instead, it feels like a Ubisoft game with some Breath of the Wild inspiration. I will say, it’s not quite as non-linear as Breath of the Wild since you can’t just run to the final boss right after the tutorial. You’re blocked off from doing so by Corruption Zones that drain your stamina instantly, and you have to complete the four main questlines before those go away. One thing I’m glad this game didn’t do is breakable weapons. All the weapons in Fenyx Rising are made to last, guaranteed.
Combat is surprisingly fun. You have a fast attack with your sword, a strong attack with your axe, and your bow with a quiver that automatically replenishes arrows over time. It starts off feeling a bit basic, but passable. You can parry enemy attacks, and doing it with perfect timing will stun them. If you dodge with perfect timing, time slows down, allowing you to land a lot of hits. Once you unlock some of the combat Godly Powers, combat really picks up. After unlocking all the Powers, Fenyx becomes pretty unstoppable in battle. The Powers cost stamina to use, but with the right equipment you can replenish stamina whenever you land a regular attack, so at that point you pretty much get an infinite combo. I liked to rush in with Athena’s Shield, follow up with Ares’ Wrath to get myself airborn, attack a few times in the air to replenish my stamina, and then repeat the cycle indefinitely. At that point, combat did feel pretty button-mashy, but in fairness I was only playing on Normal difficulty, and could have turned the difficulty up one or two notches for more of a challenge. But I didn’t do that, because it was fun to just wail on enemies and send them flying.
During the tutorial segment of the game, you’re limited to a small island off the mainland. You unlock each of your main powers one by one, learning to use each of them and getting a taste of the types of puzzles you need to solve throughout the game. Some puzzles just require you to move blocks or heavy objects onto switches, while others have you shoot arrows through fire in order to light torches. There’s a decent amount of variety, and while most puzzles aren’t too challenging there were a few that made me stop and think or required some trial and error to figure out. One of Fenyx’s powers is Apollo’s Arrow, which lets you shoot an arrow and control its path through the air in slow motion. This is a cool concept on its own, but it’s also integrated well into some of the puzzles. For example, sometimes you’ll have to guide the arrow through a burning torch and then loop around or swerve in order to light another torch. There are also Apollo’s Arrow Challenges scattered around the world map, where you have to guide an arrow through a series of rings and into a torch at the end. It’s a novel mechanic, it helped increase puzzle variety and using it was always a fun time.
Your actions throughout the game are narrated by Prometheus as he describes Fenyx’s adventures to Zeus using his power of foresight. Prometheus takes on the role of the serious type, and Zeus is the comic relief. The humor fell flat for me a lot of the time, but it had its moments every now and then. One thing I liked about this structure though is when Prometheus or even sometimes Zeus would mention an interesting anecdote from Greek mythology. This is how I learned that Zeus’ first wife was named Metis (at least in some accounts), which I recognized as the name of a character from Persona 3 FES but didn’t know where the name came from until now. Of course, I’m not saying you should believe everything in this game is accurate, but it doesn’t seem to shy away the gruesome details of Greek mythology. For instance, when Prometheus is introduced, it’s explained that Zeus punished him for gifting mortals with fire by having him chained to a mountain where eagles would peck out his liver every day. As far as I can tell, that is in line with some accounts of Prometheus, and it’s cool they represented it accurately.
I had zero expectations for Immortals Fenyx Rising going in. I was looking for more games to play on PS5 at the time and it was cheap, so I picked it up on a whim. It was definitely a worthwhile purchase! For what I spent, I got so much out of it, and it was a really nice game for when I didn’t have a lot of time because I could just jump in for a bit and do a vault or challenge. It doesn’t do anything to shake up the “open world action game” sub-genre, but it’s still a good game that I’d gladly recommend if you’re in the mood for some open world adventuring. My final time was 27 hours 22 minutes.