We bought Immortals: Fenyx Rising for the boy for Christmas; one of his more recent manias is Greek mythology, and the game seemed age-appropriate and up his alley. He played it for four hours, proclaiming it the best game he’d ever played, hit a minor bug, quit and has not touched it since then.
This is the Way, for this kid; everything is the best thing ever until the next thing comes along, and then the previous thing is abandoned. Well, we still paid $60 for the Goddamned thing, and it’s on my PS5, so once I finished up Demon’s Souls I decided to give it a try real quick and see how I liked it. Sixty hours later, I have a shiny new Platinum trophy on my … does PlayStation call it a Gamertag? No, right? That’s just Xbox? Fuck it, my account, and I just put it to bed an hour or so ago so I may as well review it.
So, the quick tl;dr verdict: Solid B+, at least for the way I play video games.
The biggest problems the game has are the stupid name and its penchant for constantly fading to white all the time. The fading to white wouldn’t have been such a big deal on my previous TV, but when the New Hotness fades to white it really fucking fades to white, and I found myself literally shutting my eyes or looking away from the TV when it happened after a while. Most of my more game-centered gripes are kind of standard for open-world games such as this; this is the first time I’ve really felt that there was too much shit to do, and while the game isn’t terribly demanding on either the platforming or the puzzle department (rarely was I stumped for more than five minutes or so on anything, other than one part where I hadn’t realized a new power could do something and the game hadn’t told me) there is so much of it that if you are a completist (and I very much am a completist) you will find yourself kind of tired of it from time to time.
The combat is a little button-mashy, but there are two primary weapons plus a bow and by the end of the game you’ve got a couple dozen additional moves and powers with everything that means that you don’t have to handle every fight the same way. That said, if you just pop a defense and an offense potion and hammer away you’ll get through anything pretty quickly even if all you’re doing is hammering a single button, and you won’t find enemies with immunities or anything that will force you to adapt your strategies. Some things can fly but by the end of the game you’re adept enough at aerial combat that it barely matters, and you can always throw rocks at them. There’s even an ability that hurts enemies when they damage you, and it does enough damage that smaller enemies could literally kill themselves by attacking you.
Graphics are cartoony but solid, and the draw distance is amazing– anytime you get up high you can see the entire damn map, which is required to uncover locations of the various challenges and such, and you can even see some of the enemies wandering around on the ground from a distance. Sound is acceptable (but see the bit on voice acting later) although Fenyx’s combat grunts and yells can get really repetitive. Fenyx can be male or female and you can change her (make her a girl) appearance anytime you want. For some reason I really got into that in this game, when it’s not something I usually care about, but my Fenyx changed her hair after every major boss fight. Dunno why, but it was fun. And while you can’t get away from the combo of sword-axe-bow, and your armor is basically a helmet and a body set, each piece of kit comes with its own extra bonuses or abilities and you can effectively apply any unlocked bonus to any weapon or armor, so you can pick the pieces you think look the best and still keep the abilities you want. You also get an actual phoenix that follows you around after a while, and horses.
Amazing, amazing gay horses.
I discovered the pink unicorn first, and thought it was impressively flamboyant, and that was before any of the three rainbow horses, one apparently inspired by Adventure Time, the purple reindeer, or the zebra. Yes, zebras are gay. All of them. There are like 25 different mounts in the game, all of which must be found and tamed. Some of them run around in herds and some of them are literally a single animal in a tucked-away corner of the map. Then there are probably a couple hundred chests, dozens of challenges, dozens of Tartarus levels that are basically giant puzzle rooms, 25 or so “lieutenants” which are basically free-roaming boss battles that you could encounter at any time, and probably some stuff that I’m forgetting.
It’s a lot.
Ultimately, what you’re getting here is what would happen if Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the Assassin’s Creed series had a gameplay baby (there are minor stealth elements; you won’t do a lot of sneaking around, and it’s never part of a mission, but you can creep up on enemies and sneak-attack them) and then dropped a Greek mythology skin on it. The whole story is told in retrospect by Prometheus, and there are some fun unreliable-narrator moments as well as an amazing quantity of semen and sex jokes from what is ostensibly a game pitched at younger gamers. Like, are you familiar with Aphrodite’s origin myth? There’s a mission that riffs on that, where you’re pushing a, um, “pearl” into the ocean, and it’s made real clear that it’s a damn euphemism, and … like, Kenny wouldn’t have gotten the innuendo? But holy shit, game. The voice acting isn’t wonderful (the pseudo-Greek accent everyone uses is kind of annoying) but the story is great and I felt like the actors were all having a great time with it. Zeus and Ares in particular are standouts. This won’t be Game of the Year or anything, but for a launch title, it’s impressively solid, and I think it was well worth the money even if the boy abandoned it.