IMMORTALS: FENYX RISING
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on November 30, 2020
Welcome, dear readers, to the realm of the Greek gods! I'm sorry to say that this once fabled realm is in a bit of a pickle. You see, the mighty and evil titan Typhon has escaped capture and has vanquished almost the entire Greek Pantheon. The gods need all the help they can get and it's up to you to offer them said help and save Olympus from Typhon's evil!
As we start our adventure, we encounter Zeus and Prometheus on a windswept, frozen mountaintop. Prometheus has been banished here by Zeus, but now Zeus needs his help. It is then that Prometheus starts telling Zeus a tale about a demi-god hero who will save Zeus and the other gods from Typhon's rage. The rest of the game is narrated by these two gods and they're awesome at it! Zeus is a thick-headed, overconfident and cocky guy, who always denies that anything is even remotely his fault, while Prometheus is trying to tell the story as it happens.
It is during the start of this story, that we meet Fenyx. This is also the moment to customize our protagonist. You can choose between male or female bodies, two voices, various faces, hairstyles, skin-, eye- and hair colors, facial tattoos or scars and beards. By selecting whatever you want, you can completely customize your character to suit your personal preferences. None of these choices will have any effect on the gameplay itself in terms of stats or abilities; they are purely cosmetic, so go wild and create your perfect hero! I created a female hero, so for the remainder of this review, I will be addressing Fenyx as "she".
After you've created your character, it is time to take your first steps in the magical realm of the Greek gods. And what an expansive realm it is, ladies and gentlemen! Hills, mountains, rivers, lakes and grasslands as far as the eye can see. But, no time for lounging about right now, because we've got some serious work to do! You see, Fenyx originally came here looking for her brother, not to fight evil. But, as these things often go, she ends up being the hero of the tale and being at the very center of the action. The monumental task of restoring the gods and their epic heroes to their former glory falls to her. At first, she isn't sure she can handle it, but she quickly realizes there is no one else who can do it and steps up to the challenge!
Immortals: Fenyx Rising is an action / adventure game, which usually means huge environments, tough enemies and cool weaponry. Luckily, Immortals is no exception to this age-old rule! What struck me almost immediately after starting the game is how beautiful and colorful everything is. In this age of hyper-realism, it is fun to see a studio take a very different approach to things. The art style in the game can be best compared to comic books and 3D animation movies. The characters and enemies all have that caricature quality, but are also loaded with cool details and expertly crafted to make them look as cool as they possibly can! The environment follows the same principle; rich, colorful and filled with little details that make it come alive!
You will be spending your time traversing this beautiful landscape, which is positively filled to the brim with tons of enemies for you to fight and puzzles for you to solve. Some of these puzzles are simply located in the environment itself, while others are located in so-called Vaults of Tartaros. These pits are scattered across the map and lead to fantastical mini-realms, in which the challenge is to reach the exit, granting the one who does access to the vaults' hidden riches. I personally like the fact that the game offers you a mental challenge, as well as a physical one. This gives the game the depth it deserves and solving these conundrums makes for a fun change of pace from fighting mythical and non-mythical beasts.
The realm itself is divided into seven regions, each one inspired by a certain Olympian. The world map is obscured by a kind of fog of war, which can be dispelled by climbing towering statues and using far-sight to discover all the things that these regions have to offer. This varies from chests containing epic loot, to challenges of the gods and from other riches to the Vaults of Tartaros. Once discovered, all these locations are added to your map and can be visited at you leisure. There is a central hub, called the Hall of the Gods, where you can upgrade your character, your weapons and even your character, brew powerful potions to help you on your quest and accept additional challenges. The land being as big as it is, it's a good thing the developers thought of incorporating fast travel into the game. This helps from wearing down your sandals walking back and forth.
Speaking about traveling; walking or running isn't the only method of transportation to Fenyx. Pretty early in the game, you will discover a pair of wings that really make a difference in the way and the speed with which you can move about the place. Not only can she now leap from high mountains and glide across the land, she can also perform a double jump, making it easier to reach higher places fast. Movement-wise, everything you do apart from simply walking will cost stamina. When this stamina runs out, Fenyx will be too tired to continue doing what she is currently doing. This is particularly awkward when she's swimming across a wide river, or when she's climbing a high mountainside, so be sure you have enough stamina for whatever it is you're planning to do. Now, normally, I'm not a fan of the use of stamina in games, but somehow it fits perfectly in this game. Sure, it can be bothersome at times, but luckily your stamina can be upgraded at the Hall of Gods, enabling you to swim farther, climb higher and glide further than before.
Another thing that, thankfully, can be upgraded is your health. This comes in really handy when fighting your enemies. Spend the needed raw materials at the forge of Hephaistos in the Hall of Gods in order to make them stronger and increase the damage that can be done with them. Another thing that comes in handy in this department is the upgrading of weapons. Fenyx wields three weapons at a time: a sword, an axe and a bow. By making good use of these weapons, you will be slicing through your enemies in no time flat. Naturally, these enemies will not just stand there and let you get away with it; they will fight back! This is where dodging and parrying come into play. Many enemy attacks can be parried, and even be followed up by a counter-attack. There are, however, attack that cannot be parried. So when an enemy starts glowing red, it's time to get out of the way. fast! When doing this at the very last moment, time slows down, giving you the opportunity to do some serious damage of your own.
And then there are several challenges for you to complete. These challenges come in a few different variations. For instance, there are a number of small lires scattered throughout a region. Each of these lires plays a certain string of notes. Remember these notes, because you will be asked to play them on a huge-ass lire that is also situated in the same region. Hit its massive strings with your arrows to make them ring out. Another type of challenge requires you to move tiles around in such a way that the pictures on top of these tiles form one big picture. A third challenge. well. challenges you to flit across the sky and reach the goal within a set time. In another challenge you must collect pearls which can be used to simulate certain constellations in a 4 x 4 grid. Complete a challenge successfully and there is a reward in it for you. No, not cake. What do you mean, "Why not?". Because this particular pastry was a lie, remember?
Apart from these more elaborate challenges, there are also smaller puzzles that can be solved by making clever use of weights on pressure plates, shooting arrows at wooden switches, or even by shooting flaming arrows at unlit braziers, or even by rolling huge balls into round slots that unlock certain things in the environment. Often the solution of these puzzles can also be a combination of two, or even all, of these mechanics and can be thoroughly challenging to solve. But the reward for doing so makes it all worthwhile; there's nothing quite like grabbing awesome loot from an ancient treasure chest, now is there?
So, with everything said and done, should you play Immortals: Fenyx Rising? The answer to that question is a simple one: HELL YES! The game offers you hours on end of glorious battle, brain-wracking puzzle-solving and more areas for you to explore than you could shake a stick at. The characters you'll come across are fun and cartoony. Plus, as mentioned earlier on, the narration by Prometheus and especially Zeus, makes the tone of the game somewhat lighter than I originally expected, which is awesome! I really like Zeus, if I'm totally honest. Sure, I wouldn't want him running my country, but I think he's a great guy to go to the pub and have a few beers with.
All in all, I can only say that I'm truly smitten (which isn't a word I use regularly, so that's saying something!) with Immortals: Fenyx Rising. It is a really colorful, witty, charming, but still challenging game that deserves to be played by everyone who loves an awesome good action-filled adventure! So what are you waiting for? Unleash your inner hero, get out there and start kicking some serious Titan ass!
IMMORTALS: FENYX RISING
December 3, 2020