It would be difficult not to review 'Immortals Fenyx Rising' without mentioning 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild'.
It’s blatantly apparent that 'Immortals Fenyx Rising' is heavily inspired by many of the open-world game mechanics 'Breath of the Wild' pioneered and by the structuring of the gameplay loop. That being said, 'Immortals Fenyx Rising' still maintains its own unique imprint and adds to the formulae.
The tone and styling of 'Immortals Fenyx Rising' is immediately the first thing that sets it apart from others. While richly steeped in Greek mythology – even going as far to correct the pronunciation of Hercules to Herakles – it never feels like a history lesson. It’s an enjoyable experience that has all the wit and colour of a Saturday morning cartoon underpinned by educational folklore.
The games narrators, Zeus and Prometheus, often comment on your progress, espousing tales from Greek mythology. This narration is always jovial and fun to listen to, less annoying than one may think, and more akin to something such as Three Dog from 'Fallout 3'. It’s in all of this that Fenyx really sets itself apart from 'Breath of the Wild'. Everything in this visually stunning, narratively driven, and well-crafted world has its own charm that is a wonder to be marvelled at.
The game world is vast and expansive, following a comparable framework to 'Breath of the Wild' in terms of objectives. You must save gods and goddesses in each of the four main regions of the map to go up against the big bad villain, Typhon. Apart from the main quest, the world is littered with a plethora of side quests. Chests and quests will allow access to a range of materials and “Coins of Charon” used by the player to upgrade their gear and abilities.
As there are no experience points in the game, this is how you find yourself grinding when faced with a more challenging enemy or boss battle. However, “grinding” may be the wrong word, as at no point to these side quests feel laborious. In fact, the gameplay loop is so well constructed, you'll find yourself playing well into the night.
As 'Breath of the Wild' has shrine challenges, 'Immortal Fenyx Rising' has vaults, and the navigation challenges are by far the most enjoyable side quests. Asking the player to use the game's excellent traversal mechanics to their full effect. Comparably with 'Breath of the Wild', you're presented with a stamina gauge which can be upgraded by collecting Zeus’ lightning in said vaults. Each movement, be it climbing a rock face, gliding through the air, performing Godly Powers, swimming or sprinting drain your stamina. Because of this, you will frequently find yourself in a stamina deficit, so it’s heavily recommended you do as many of these vaults as quickly as possible to avoided unwanted deaths. That being said, these vaults are enjoyable as they are rewarding, so there’s no issue here.
The combat mechanics too are brilliant. The player has the use of quick sword slashes, heavy axe hits, and precision arrow at the basic level. Much of the combat encounters you face won’t be an issue, with a few axe hits and a Godly Power or two making quick work of a group. It is, however, in the mythical beast and wraith fights where you’ll need to adopt a more comprehensive strategy. It's in these scenarios where the game's combat really shines. Locking on to the enemy, using potions to buff attack and defence stats, and rhythmically dodging and parrying to gain damage multipliers, while steadily whittling the health bar and building up the stun gauge. Once fully stunned, the enemy combatant is at your behest for some time, giving a window of opportunity to lay into them with all you've got. It’s time like this, where 'Immortals Fenyx Rising' strays away from 'Breath of the Wild' and feels more like 'Monster Hunter World' in its approach to combat with large enemies.
Even with the game featuring so many things to do, there is still more! On top of the heroic tasks completed through gameplay, there is a host of daily and weekly challenges to keep the player entertained and challenged. It will be nice to see how varied this ongoing free content will be in the future lifespan of the game. As of writing, there are three DLCs planned, all of which should keep 'Immortals Fenyx Rising' on hard drives for quite some time.
Lastly, yet still much appreciated, is the games approach to customisation. While not a huge pile of customisation is available for the main character, the game still supports character customisation for the entirety of the game. If you’re not happy with your beard, hair, eyes, or even gender, these can all be switched mid-game and is a welcomed inclusion and one which I haven’t seen since the 'Saints Row' series. Furthermore, the ability to customise your weapon and clothes by choosing their visual skin is an impressive feature you’d never realise you wanted. This allows the player to have the stat buffs that suits their playstyle while still being able to choose what their weapon or armour looks like aesthetically.
All in all, 'Immortals Fenyx Rising' broadly shares the DNA of its inspiration, yet never so excessively as to the point by which it could be called a clone. If anything, it iterates on the formulae that 'Breath of the Wild' pioneered in 2017. Building on those features by drawing on other influences, and imposing its own tone and deeply enriched narrative, creating a bricolage of perfection. And with that being said, in my eyes, this critic has just reviewed the game of the year.