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Off Topic > Video GamesJan 28, 2021 10:00 am CT

Immortals Fenyx Rising is the best game no one is talking about

Ubisoft put out quite a few games in 2020, but as much as I loved Assassin’s Creed Valhalla it wasn’t my favorite game they made last year. Instead — and I was amazed by this — a much less hyped game that came out in December is the standout and potentially the best game of 2020. Immortals Fenyx Rising is a game with a fun sense of humor, engaging open world gameplay, and a really excellent look that manages to be beautiful without trying to be photorealistic.

I don’t want to talk too much about the plot, because it’s simultaneously fairly simple and surprisingly complicated. You play as Fenyx, a young sailor on a ship that runs aground on a mysterious island and who soon discovers the gods are under attack by Typhon, the last and greatest of the Titans, who threatens to bring Tartarus to Earth and destroy the Olympians once and for all. And it’s up to you to stop him, because all the more qualified people — including your brother — have been turned to stone.

I straight up didn’t expect to even like this game. The fact is, I wasn’t enthused about Breath of the Wild, the Zelda game that is clearly a direct inspiration on Immortals Fenyx Rising, but I found myself loving this game for basically getting rid of things like strict inventory management, breakable weapons, and other annoyances while preserving the spirit of exploration and frenetic combat. Sometimes the game is a little too derivative of BotW, but considering the sheer critical praise heaped on the altar of that game it’s not terribly surprising. Also, Fenyx is a fully voiced, customizable protagonist and you can choose their gender, appearance, voice, and more, so I definitely felt a lot more connected with them than I did with silent protagonist Link.

A game that understands and embraces how ridiculous Greek myth could really be

Really, though, the best thing about Immortals is the bickering dueling narrators Prometheus and Zeus, the various gods and their actors doing an amazing job with them — just the fun of the game. This is a fun, funny, smart game that absolutely can be played and enjoyed by kids and which has just enough of a wink and a nod for adults that it reminds me of classic animation. And it’s an extremely well-reviewed game, so why isn’t it on everybody’s radar? Why aren’t we all talking about it?

Well, for starters, 2020 was a dumpster fire of a year and certain games broke during the meat of it and took up a lot of our attention. Games like Animal Crossing New Horizons, or Fall Guys, came out much earlier and served as kind of mental refuges from the constant drumbeat of oh lord now what that we all had to endure. Also, other games that released around the same time as Immortals took up a lot of press attention. Cyberpunk 2077 managed to both be more loudly anticipated and also, a lot worse, with disastrous bugs and controversies about said bugs and long discussions of its open world being too huge drowning out the relatively short and bug-free launch of Immortals.

Also, there’s been a bit of a renaissance for Greek myth based games the past couple of years. Between Immortals’ own progenitor game AC Odyssey and Hades, it’s probably the case that people didn’t feel the need for another game that draws on that well, especially considering how beloved Hades was this year as well. This isn’t me telling you Hades wasn’t amazing — the narrative and storytelling in that game is scintillant, brooding, and atmospheric. But Immortals is a completely different take on that same subject matter.

This game is just plain fun

Where games like Odyssey used the myths as a jumping off point and Hades used them as a tapestry for the exploration of some truly adult themes, Immortal Fenyx Rising uses them as a backdrop for outright whimsical, funny, and playful banter. Ubisoft Quebec have made the best open world RPG since the last open world RPG they made — you may have heard of it — and that game is really the other parent of Immortals. In many ways the hybrid of BotW and AC Odyssey has strengths in excess of either of its parents. It’s much shorter, which for some folks is a positive.

The fact is, Immortals Fenyx Rising is unafraid to be derivative, but to my eyes, that’s fine. So many games tried to be The Witcher 3, why shouldn’t a game try to be Breath of the Wild? Heck, when BotW came out, many described it as Skyrim in Hyrule. Well, this is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in Hyrule, and it works magnificently. Fun, frenetic combat, puzzles, platforming, and a great deal of humor.

I have struggled to think of a way to explain this game, so let me put it this way — this is a fun, relatively short (if you don’t do all the side stuff, anyway — that’ll expand it out a lot) open world game with relatively few bugs that basically deserved all the attention some other games got last year. It is not just good, it’s actively great in a way I wasn’t at all expecting. If you haven’t played it yet, do yourself a favor and do so.

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