Regrettably, when we began discussing our Game of the Year here for Nintendo Link, not a single soul nominated Immortals Fenyx Rising. It may have been because of the insane amount of brilliant titles that released in 2020, or it may simply be that no one on our team played and experienced the game. Well, I began playing Immortals Fenyx Rising after I published that Game of the Year article, and I can boldly say now that the game absolutely deserves to be recognized as one of the best of 2020.
Does that make the game flawless? A perfect offering to Zeus? Not quite, but it does so much right that it is easy to neglect some of the poor areas and stay focused on the Herculean strength of the Breath of the Wild formula. Let’s rise from the ashes and open Pandora’s box as we find out if Immortals Fenyx Rising is a game worthy of the gods.
First of all, the story is fantastic. We are introduced immediately to three major characters in Greek mythology: Zeus, the god of lightning and father of many top-tier gods; Prometheus, a titan of trickery often recognized by his nickname “The Forethinker”; and Typhon, the father of monsters and lead antagonist in Immortals Fenyx Rising.
Before we are even introduced to our main protagonist, Fenyx, the game does an amazing job of setting the stage for our hero, their need, and the mission at hand. Seeing Zeus’s desperation for help that he would even go to Prometheus for advice and direction is telling of the dire nature of Typhon’s presence, and the chemistry that Zeus and Prometheus have is entrancing, as their color commentary during narration is genuinely the highlight of the entire game. Their banter throughout is both brilliantly written and excellently executed by the voice acting.
The other thing of note is that this game is funny, and I mean genuinely funny. The jokes land so well despite blending ancient Greek ideas with modern day puns and sarcasm. Each character is wonderfully painted and voice acted, and it is easy to connect with each and every one of them, including the gods.
The story sees your created character, Fenyx, washed up ashore, alone, looking for her troop and brother, Ligyron. What starts out as a simple, linear path quickly becomes a giant free world where you can go wherever you want after clearing the “tutorial” missions. The theme of the story is a beautiful and complex one regarding human error, and the way it is told throughout is splendid and easily the strongest area of the game.
Similar to Breath of the Wild in many ways, Immortals Fenyx Rising is a giant lush game with more to do than you can handle. There are major quests that need to be done to access the end game, side quests that tell even more about the world and characters, secrets that contain lovely upgrades and materials, and dangerous enemies in every nook and cranny of the Golden Isles. It is a very large world, and each area is unique in presentation and enemy typing.
Another thing similar to Breath of the Wild are the Vaults, which look and feel eerily similar to the Shrines of the aforementioned game. These Vaults are recognized by little Typhon craters that look like mini-volcanos. There are optional ones spread all over the map that are a mixed bag of puzzles and platforming, with the occasional horde mode, and then there are the mandatory ones attached to the Main Quests. As much as these are nearly copy-and-pasted from Breath of the Wild, Immortals Fenyx Rising shows exactly why this formula was one of the favorite areas of the Zelda game, because these Vaults are the right amount of complication, challenge, and puzzle.
Some of the mandatory Vaults within the Main Quests also offer major boss fights against the likes of Hyrda, Medusa, and Polyphemus, just to name a few. These boss fights are big and a grand reminder of why these monsters are so iconic within Greek mythology.
There are other Vaults that are locked behind certain upgrades/Godly Powers that you can purchase at the Hall of the Gods (Your base of sorts), and the game does do a good job of forewarning you about this before you attempt the impossible puzzles ahead of you. These Vaults are all optional, so there is no need to stress on these if you just want to follow the story.
The combat and overall controls also feel a lot like a 3D Zelda title, particularly the numerously mentioned Breath of the Wild. Once you finally get your wings and are able to fly, this is when the world opens up even more, but one major difference from Breath of the Wild is that flying/gliding uses stamina, meaning you cannot simply fly for an unlimited amount of time without penalty. That’s a bit of a bummer.
Thankfully, eating can be done on the fly, so healing yourself or recovering stamina can be done with a simple press of the D-pad. Holding one of the directions down will use ingredients to recover while a simple press will use vials as long as you have them. This is especially helpful when climbing tall structures or flying far distances.
Another major difference (Thank the gods!) is that Immortals Fenyx Rising lets you keep your weapons: they do not break! You can equip one sword and one axe at a time, and learning how to combine these weapons in combat can help tremendously. However, I found myself using my axe exclusively in the latter parts of the game, since I spent a lot of resources upgrading it heavily and the damage output became insane.
Although there are lots of different resources to harvest and find, the game does do a great job of giving them to you pretty regularly as you go through Vaults, defeat enemies, and open chests. Certain items like Zeus’s lighting and Ambrosia, which upgrade your Stamina and Health, are a bit harder to come by, but these high quality items are essential for those struggling with some of the bigger and badder fights.
Since we are talking about the Nintendo Switch version of the game, one of the biggest problems I ran into was performance issues, including a couple crashes. While traversing through the Golden Isles, you will see slow texture loading throughout, and although this is not a deal-breaker by any means, it is quite noticeable, especially when you are gliding from high up and can see in real-time how much the graphics are stuttering.
But don’t let that make you think that Immortals Fenyx Rising looks bad on the Nintendo Switch. This game looks incredible. The sheer vastness of the land is memorizing, and the graphical style leans more in the favor of Breath of the Wild than it does something more realistic like Assassin’s Creed. This helps to make some of those texture load times more forgivable, because the game doesn’t look hyper-realistic in the first place.
This genuinely feels like all the best parts of Breath of the Wild with a bit of its own flavor mixed in. The theme of Greek mythology is the perfect backdrop, and I can see this series moving forward in so many directions. One of the future DLCS for Immortals Fenyx Rising is an ancient Chinese lore storyline, and if the series wants to go that direction, then count me in. However, I think staying focused on Greek mythology is plenty, as there are tons of characters, monsters, and gods to work with. This one covered a lot, but there is plenty more to choose from. Poseidon and Hades, particularly, were both absent and could make for some more quality storytelling in future installments.
There is so much to do in the game that it would take me ages to cover it all, but let me make it clear: Immortals Fenyx Rising is absolutely worth your time and money. There are puzzles to challenge the mind, action to satisfy the thirst, storytelling to open the heart, and comedy to simply make you laugh. This is a total package that is worth the full price, even more so if you can find this one a sale.
If I did not sell you on it by now, then I have one last Hail Mary to leave no stone unturned: Like Breath of the Wild, Immortals Fenyx Rising lets you tame horses and make them your own, but you get one more companion in the form of an evil bird that Fenyx somehow befriends. You can even customize these two companions on the fly! The only thing that could make this any better is if I can have a pet dog, but I guess that’s not ancient-Greek enough.
If you are itching to play something before Breath of the Wild 2‘s inevitable release, I honestly cannot recommend Immortals Fenyx Rising enough. It had a Herculean task to live up to, and it accomplished everything it needed to in spades.
God-tier storytelling and character development
Great inspiration from another great game
Weapons don't break
Performance issues: crashes, slow texture loading, etc
Flying uses stamina
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.