Finally…. someone copied Zelda’s homework
Platform: Stadia (I know right?)
Available On: PS4, PS5 Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC
Genre: Action Adventure, RPG
Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
Release: December 3rd, 2020
A quick confession - ever since Immortals was first announced, originally as Gods & Monsters (until a certain energy drink company got odd), I had immediately dismissed it.
Over the past few years I’ve grown wary of Ubisoft’s brand of game. Whether it is Assassins Creed, Far Cry or Watch Dogs, in my opinion, their blueprint is all the same and the lack of variety in their offerings generally keeps my enthusiasm low.
On this auspicious day, if ever there was one, I decided to try out the demo available to Stadia subscribers for a limited time (October 29th to be exact) on a whim. Much to my surprise this game feels packed with that something special that has been missing from Ubisoft’s usual fare. As we come into the busy months of the gaming calendar I wanted to throw my hat in the Immortals ring and share some quick thoughts on the upcoming game.
Taking the Odyssey out of Assassin's Creed
Straight away, you can feel the AC influence, no surprise given Quebec's previous work AC: Odyssey. From the menus look and feel to the basic gameplay mechanics. If you’ve just put down any of the recent AC titles in Origins or Odyssey, you will feel right at home here. This familiarity I believe will be the linchpin in how it ends up resonating on full release. However, the differences start to become apparent in those very familiar trappings.
Let me explain, the team over at Ubisoft Quebec have smartly taken the design tenets of Immortals big brother and turned everything on its head and up to 11. Gone is the push for hyper realism and (mostly) historical accuracy, in its stead is a clear drive to steer away from those very definitions. A beautiful Saturday morning cartoon / stylized world that doubles down on the Greek mythology. Instead of warring factions you have the originally titular Gods & Monsters front and center, no one is taking themselves seriously, this is a Ubisoft team letting the proverbial hair down and it’s a breath of familiar fresh air… speaking of which…
The Legend sized Zelda in The Room
Another obvious inspiration for this game is Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. From that aforementioned Saturday morning cartoon look to the stamina meter, gliding / climbing mechanic and the whimsical nature of that game's general feeling. Even the light puzzle elements that are available in the demo feel reminiscent of BotW’s open designed puzzles and shrines. Yet none of it feels cribbed, merely…borrowed. An important distinction to make and one I believe also apparent in Genshin Impact.
I don’t think there is anything wrong inherently with taking healthy inspiration from your peers, BotW was a fantastic game and it’s nice to see its legacy respected this way. If you haven’t guessed already from my opening salvo aimed at Ubisoft directly, I am all for fresh takes when they are done with such clear respect for its inspirations and indeed crafted well.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising has a certain something too it I can't quite put my finger on. My brief hour-long jaunt through the demo flew by in the best ways possible. The combat is familiar yet snappy, the animations are not that far off their AC predecessor yet unlike that game, feel right at home here. Every enemy you defeat gets fired off into the sun like Icarus of old or a certain Team Rocket blasting off again and it's funny and satisfying always.
As Zeus and Prometheus bicker over the narration of your characters' story (much to Fenyx chagrin) you learn to relax into the game’s offbeat nature. These are all elements seen in other games but unlike before, these influences look outward instead of rigidly sticking to the pillars of Ubisoft's internal design. More so, these elements are applied and attempt to compliment that structure, attempting to shake its foundations.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that this game feels good, it’s fun, funny and I want more of it. Walking away from the demo left me wanting more and in a year full of grim news, even grimmer storytelling in videogames, Immortals could be the much needed breath of fresh air I’ve been looking for to round out 2020.
All images taken from press kit here
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