Skip to main content

Immortals Fenyx Rising is family-friendly fantasy with just a whiff of loneliness

If you're having trouble picturing Immortals Fenyx Rising (formerly Gods and Monsters) it's best to think of it as Assassin's Creed meets Spyro meets Fortnite. This is an action-RPG, but a long long way from Ubisoft's usual Far Cry fanatics or Assassin's Creed historical accuracy. It's bright and friendly and has a light touch with its mythological inspirations, but it's also hard to figure out exactly who the target audience is. 

You play as Fenyx, a customizable hero who comes with a phoenix companion and a nifty set of wings, let loose on a map filled with puzzles to solve and monsters from mythology to fight. The main storyline concerns Typhon – Greek mythology's equivalent of a supervillain – and his attempts to overpower the gods of Mount Olympus. Seeking your help, the gods have granted you special powers to aid in your battle to defeat him. 

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Puzzle box

In the hours I had with the game, I did everything from taking down a mighty cyclops to completing a mosaic to do some good old fashioned "what happens if I weigh down this button on the floor" navigation. What I didn't do was talk to anyone. Not a soul. The world is packed with creatures, intriguing structures, and plants to collect, but there are no NPCs. No quest givers, no merchants, no one to romance or defend. No one to cheer or reward you when you finally figure out the solution to the particularly vexing puzzle with the lasers and the heavy blocks. The world map gave me all the direction I needed when it came to finding an activity to be all heroic about, but the lack of friendly faces is a glaring omission if you've played any RPG in the last five years. 

Luckily, I'm more of an animal person anyway, so quickly decided if I couldn't talk to anyone, I could at least find some four-legged friends. The game has wild horses – and I'm sure more fantastical creatures – that can be tamed to be your mounts. This skill wasn't just useful for getting around, I even came across one puzzle that needed horses for it to be solved. It's going to be the Assassin's Creed Odyssey unicorn all over again is it? 

The world, even the small section I was playing, feels huge and densely packed, and your character's gliding ability means no areas are really off-limits. You need to watch your stamina before any long haul flights to make sure you're not plummeting to the ground at an inopportune moment, but other than that you're free to explore.

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Legendary lasers

And the variation in puzzles was one thing I did really like about the game, and made me feel as though I could spend a happy couple of hours a day exploring the world. Each puzzle I came across felt satisfying and just tough enough to keep me hooked on finding a solution. I had to navigate through laser beams – not something I remember in my reading of The Odyssey, but maybe my translation was off – or using my gliding skills to navigate a dangerous maze of airflows and certain death, or guiding an arrow through a sequence of targets at just the right speed and angle. Each one was a self-contained little part of the map, meaning you can wander off and just hit something with your sword if your patience wears out. 

The combat feels as customizable as the character, with special weapons – flaming swords, special bows – and special abilities like summoning your phoenix companion to dive bomb the enemy. It didn't take long to master balancing melee combat with a few arrows to take down the harpies, and a nice special attack to bring a big brute to its knees. The cartoonish, Fortnite look of the game, and the fantastical attacks mean the combat feels fun and bouncy rather than deadly and visceral, but no doubt the myths and legends of Ancient Greece have some bigger challenges hidden among all the pretty columns and beautiful beaches. 

There's definitely plenty to do in Immortals Fenyx Rising and lots more to discover beyond the tiny slice I explored, and with the game out on December 3, it won't be long before you can. 

For more new games to look forward to, check out the biggest new games of 2020 on the way in the next few months.

I'm the benevolent Queen of the US, or - as they insist I call it - US Managing Editor. I write news, features and reviews, and look after a crack team of writers who all insist on calling trousers "pants" and don't think the phrase fanny pack is problematic.