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Immortals: Fenyx Rising is both ambitious and shameless. This Ubisoft title comes out on December 3 for just about every platform you can imagine: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, and PC. It’s a big open-world action role-playing game with a colorful, Greek mythology-themed land to explore. It also borrows from The Legend of Zelda: A Breath of the Wild with no regrets.
But to be honest, I don’t really care. Because Breath of the Wild rules, and more games should be more like it. Plus, after playing an hour of Immortals: Fenyx Rising through the cloud-streaming service Parsec, I can say that Immortals isn’t a total ripoff. It’s impossible to play the game without thinking of Zelda, but it is adding enough that’s new or different to stand out.
Jump up, superstar
A lot of this has to do with the way Fenyx moves. For Breath of the Wild, it felt bizarre that Link could jump at all. But his Breath of the Wild jump is more of a glorified hop, anyway. Breath of the Wild focuses on many things: exploration, action, and puzzle-solving. Platforming isn’t a concern.
Fenyx, however, feels much more nimble. She has a spring in her step that’s missing from Link’s feet. You can jump a decent height, and you can control how high or far you leap depending on how long you press the button. It gives Immortals a bit of a 3D-platformer feel, and the designers take advantage of it. You still come across plenty of Zelda-like puzzles. You even have a magnetic ability that comes straight from Breath of the Wild. But many challenges will also test your jumping abilities.
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I love 3D platformers. If you were going to add one thing to the Breath of the Wild formula to grab my attention, this is it. It also doesn’t have weapon degradation, so if you’re one of the (wrong) people who hates that in Breath of the Wild, don’t worry.
Don’t make me laugh
There’s another key area where Immortals differs from Breath of the Wild: humor. Sure, Zelda has goofy characters and light-hearted moments, but it’s a pretty straight-forward fantasy story. Immortals presents itself as a full-on comedy. Zeus and Prometheus narrate the story, and you’ll hear their back-and-forth bickering and banter throughout the game. At one point, Zeus hijacks the story so that a monster Fenyx is about to fight is a giant abomination. Prometheus retakes the reins and describes the monster instead as a small, adorable pet.
I’m less sold on this deviation from Breath of the Wild’s style. I don’t mind humor in my games, but Immortals is rarely as funny as it thinks it is. A bad joke here or there would be fine, but Ubisoft bombards you with voice work. In fact, that’s another part of my demo I’m not crazy about. It has too much story. I was getting tired of cutscenes and dialogue. Breath of the Wild is a pretty quiet game. Heck, it almost has too little story. Immortals may be going to the other extreme.
I should point out that I only played about the first hour of the game. There’s a chance that the story mellows out a bit and steps aside in favor of player discovery the deeper you get into your adventure. I hope so, anyway.
What I played was fun enough that I could get over my distaste for the humor, anyway. I have criticized Ubisoft games in the past for being “map games.” They are open-world experiences where you spend a lot of time looking at icons on your map, then walking where they tell you to go, and then you do some kind of activity.
You still spend a decent amount of time walking toward icons in Immortals, but the discovery process is more interesting. In order for most chests, activities, or other hot spots to appear on your map and compass, you first have to scout them out. This is best done by finding some high perch. You then enter a first-person view and pick out any areas of interest. It’s kind of like what Assassin’s Creed does, but it’s more organic. In Assassin’s Creed, you just climb whatever high tower the game tells you to, and then it rewards you by littering your map with icons. Here, you can pick whichever viewpoint you want, and then you still have to find those hotspots yourself.
A whole new world
I spent most of my time in my demo playing through the campaign, which introduced me to Fenyx’s arsenal of equipment and the sort of activities I’d find in the open world. Just like with Breath of the Wild, I imagine that I’ll have my most fun when I’m just wandering around the world and discovering my own fun.
Immortals will never be able to escape comparisons with Breath of the Wild. I mean, if it didn’t want that, it only has itself to blame. But you shouldn’t write it off. Maybe it is a clone, but it’s looking to be a good one. Heck, clone isn’t the word. Fenyx’s increased mobility and jumping prowess is enough to make Immortals feel like a worthwhile spin on the Breath of the Wild formula.
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