If you ever wondered what The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would look like had it been developed by Ubisoft — Immortals Fenyx Rising is the answer. Ubisoft Quebec has unabashedly lifted the entire game structure of Breath of the Wild and transplanted it into the world of Greek mythology, while adding some new elements of its own, and the results are excellent. If Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity didn’t scratch your Zelda itch on Nintendo Switch, this game might.
A Greek comedy
The premise of Immortals Fenyx Rising is that Fenyx, a fully customizable character, shipwrecks on the Golden Isle, a magical land where some of the gods reside. Complicating things, the rest of humanity gets turned to stone, and a beastly creature named Typhon has escaped imprisonment, stripped the gods of their power, and intends to take over the world. An oracle’s prophecy dictates that Fenyx will restore the gods and save them all, so with a little guidance from the god Hermes, Fenyx embarks on a heroic quest across the seven distinct regions of the Golden Isle.
Surprisingly, Immortals Fenyx Rising is hilarious. The stellar writing, voice acting, and even facial and body animations all had me laughing throughout the game. A chained-up Prometheus actually narrates the game’s story to Zeus, who is the self-centered jerk that put Prometheus in those chains, and their interactions are comedy gold. However, Immortals also carries strong themes of family and finding power in one’s own flaws, and despite a disappointingly predictable plot twist or two, the story is executed well on the whole.
Expanding upon Breath of the Wild
The beginning of Immortals Fenyx Rising plays out identically to the beginning of Breath of the Wild. Fenyx, like Link, begins the game in an isolated but still large area where fundamental game mechanics are introduced and all of the major exploration tools are collected. Also like Link, Fenyx can climb, swim, glide long distances, levitate objects, and fast travel to previously discovered locations. Upon completing the introductory area, Fenyx has almost total free rein to explore the world and complete major quests in any order.
There are around 70 largely optional “Vaults of Tartaros” to discover in the land, which are usually short, high-quality puzzle dungeons and are the equivalent of Breath of the Wild’s shrines. You’ll levitate a lot of boxes, shoot magical guided arrows through complex series of targets, glide carefully across chasms, and maybe find some extra hidden treasure along the way. Solving Vaults nets you Zeus’ lightning, which can be spent to increase your maximum stamina that is used for actions like gliding and executing special abilities.
Aside from the Greek mythology setting, Immortals Fenyx Rising distinguishes itself from Breath of the Wild mostly by just adding even more types of content. The Golden Isle is probably not as large as Hyrule, but it has a higher density of activities, and the 38 hours I spent in my playthrough could likely double if I went back to try to complete every little thing. Even outside of Vaults, the Golden Isle is just packed with extra puzzles and challenges to find and complete. There are tons of treasures to discover, including unique weapons, armor, cosmetic variants on that gear, and various gems that are used as currency to upgrade your strength or defense. Unlike in Breath of the Wild, weapons don’t break, and you’ll never collect the same exact piece of gear twice.
Additionally, unlike Link, Fenyx can learn a wide variety of special abilities and upgrade them by spending special, rare coins. These include expanded combat abilities, the ability to turn invisible, and the ability to create a statue duplicate of Fenyx to make it easier to solve puzzles involving weight-activated floor switches (of which there are many). Playing Immortals Fenyx Rising comes with a terrific sense of character growth and progression that was sometimes absent in Breath of the Wild with Link.
Fast, arcade-ish combat
As you complete major story quests, it seems that most of the monsters level up so as to maintain a challenge with the areas that remain. It works out just fine since the combat system is pretty solid. Battles have a fast, somewhat arcade-ish pace, where half a dozen enemies might be coming at you simultaneously.
You can block, parry, or dodge to avoid attacks, but dodges are so fast and effective that I never bothered with anything else. Dodging or stopping blows with perfect timing also slows down time so that you can get in extra hits or do whatever else you want with those precious free seconds.
To fight back, you use swords for fast, standard attacks and axes for slow, heavy attacks. Axe attacks also build up the enemy’s stun gauge, and once filled, the enemy will be left completely vulnerable to attack. However, my strategy was just to max out sword damage as early as possible, so I steam-rolled enemies with regular sword attacks and almost completely ignored axes.
You also have the ability to shoot arrows, which can be upgraded to do things like explode and do more damage when you land a headshot. Arrows can be useful for hitting distant or flying enemies, but again, just slaughtering things with swords was often the fastest course of action. But you also have the aforementioned special abilities you can use, like a giant hammer attack, an aerial attack from a bird friend, and spears that shoot out of the ground and launch enemies into the air. Immortals Fenyx Rising offers plenty of methods to dispatch its various enemy types, which include things like monster gladiators, chimeras, magical bears, minotaurs, harpies, griffons, and cyclopses.
Mini-bosses are typically souped-up versions of standard enemies but fun to fight all the same. Each major boss is distinct and usually fun to battle too, but on the Normal difficulty at least, none of them are ever overly challenging since you have a generous amount of potions to craft and use. You can use potions to restore health and stamina and also to greatly enhance strength and defense. Typhon won’t stand a chance against you unless you up the difficulty level.
Immortals technical performance on Switch
Immortals Fenyx Rising on Nintendo Switch crashed on me seven times in total, before and after the game’s first patch. Twice it happened before the title screen even loaded, and once it occurred after putting the game to sleep for a minute and switching from handheld to docked. Fortunately, the game auto-saves often enough that it didn’t usually matter, and Ubisoft is promising more stability updates.
Visually, Immortals suffers a clear quality drop on Switch compared to on other platforms, with foggier draw distances and significantly less environmental detail. It has not been optimized to the phenomenal degree Breath of the Wild was. But that’s frankly to be expected, and it’s still a pretty impressive and attractive Switch port on the whole. The textures of character clothing look really nice at least. The frame rate seems to hold up pretty decently too, but I admittedly don’t notice frame rate very often.
My complaints are minor. Playing handheld, at certain times of day in-game, it can be hard to see things because the areas are sometimes lit in strange ways. Also, the opening segment of the game makes a bad first impression visually, because it too can be strangely lit and uses a lot of fog, seeming to result in even less environmental detail than usual. And lastly, the game controls are fairly complex, and even late in the game I would sometimes press a wrong button when trying to glide.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is more than a Breath of the Wild clone
Ultimately, Immortals Fenyx Rising is not as hyper-polished an experience as Breath of the Wild, and its later story dungeons sometimes lack the imagination and tight design of its outstanding early dungeons. Nonetheless, the Ubisoft game succeeds at creating its own identity thanks to excellent and comedic use of Greek mythology, a fast combat system that offers lots of satisfying character upgrades for Fenyx, and a wide assortment of unique weapons and armor to collect that keeps exploration rewarding. Ubisoft has a terrific new franchise on its hands.
If you love The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you would be out of your mind not to try Immortals Fenyx Rising.
A review code was provided by the publisher.