My 12 year old daughter Chloe isn’t into gaming the way that she used to be. She still likes to play Minecraft with friends and the occasional other game, but it’s not a big passion of hers. I’m fine with that, she’s her own person and I wouldn’t try and push something onto her that she wasn’t into. She has her own hobbies that she loves like drawing, reading, playing music, and she’s really interested in Greek mythology.
When I showed her the trailer for the new open world action game from Ubisoft titled Immortals: Fenyx Rising she wasn’t exactly jumping up and down with anticipation. It wasn’t that the game didn’t look good, it was more that she was taking issue with some of the liberties that the game supposedly takes with the characters. “That’s not what Medusa looks like!” she said “Why is Zeus talking like that?”. Her lukewarm reception knocked it off of my radar this holiday, but when Ubisoft sent over a code for me to check out I asked her again if she might like to try it. “I suppose” she said with a shrug, and I’m so glad that she did, because I haven’t seen her enjoy a game this much in years.
The best way to maybe describe Immortals is to think of it as “My First Ubisoft Game”. It has many of the familiar trappings of an Assassin’s Creed game (open world, tall monuments to climb, etc) but it’s scaled back a bit and simplified to make it more palatable to a younger audience. That’s not to say that the game is for little kids, but rather they’ve taken a system that can sometimes be overly complex and made it more accessible for those who maybe aren’t looking for a 100 hour quest loaded with side quests. The game definitely takes some cues from Breath of the Wild as well with a stamina based climbing system, a colorful art style, and the ability to glide around the world. I guess if your game is going to take inspiration from something, Breath of the Wild and Assassin’s Creed aren’t bad ones to pick.
The game stars Fenyx, a soldier who is washed up on shore after their ship is wrecked and ends up entangled in a plot with the gods of Olympus. Fenyx is a pretty vanilla character, with most of the personality being devoted to the gods themselves, but you can use a character editor to make Fenyx your own. You can choose to make Fenyx either male or female in appearance and customize their look. The options are fairly limited but it’s nice that they let you tinker with the look of the character.
As soon as she picked up the controller for the first time, Chloe was jumping, gliding, and slashing her way through mythological creatures with ease. We started her out on the Easy difficulty level as she doesn’t have much experience with these types of games, but Immortals also does a really good job of slowly introducing all of the controls and gameplay elements over time, making it easy for younger or inexperienced players to get the hang of things.
Fenyx Rising also makes things appealing for younger players by featuring a fun and humorous attitude and cartoonish art style that makes it feel very welcoming. The visuals are something of a combination between Breath of the Wild and Fortnite, with simple and clean looking characters and bright, colorful environments. It’s not going to wow you visually, but everything looks good.
The sense of humor is also a fun aspect that makes it stand out from other games, and it actually had me chuckling from time to time. Zeus and Poseidon narrate the entire game, and there is a lot of fun chatter back and forth between the two. When the title screen pops up after about two hours they complain “How was all of that only the epilogue?” and when Fenyx appears to meet an early demise, Zeus rolls credits (most of which belong to him) before Poseidon stops him to continue the story. Not all of the jokes land, but it’s overall pretty entertaining. Be careful though if you’re playing with smaller kids, some of the humor could be inappropriate for young ones and there is some very mild swearing.
Despite being apprehensive in the beginning, about fifteen minutes into the game Chloe was grinning from ear to ear every time that the game mentioned a character or legend that she was familiar with. Every five minutes she would paused the game to fill me in on the stories that I obviously had no idea about. “Dad, do you know about how Icarus flew too close to the sun?” or “Dad, can I tell you the story of Sisyphus?” This is a game that feels custom made just for her, and being that I don’t know a Gorgon from a Hippocampus, she was more than happy to give me an education.
She explored the bright and colorful world, solving puzzles, completing platforming challenges, and slaying beasts. There were a couple of brief moments when she would get frustrated at a tricky jump or tough enemy giving her trouble, at which point she would look to me for help, but other than those short moments I never got a chance to touch the controller the entire night. She was in the zone.
Eventually I had to tap her on the shoulder to tell her that maybe we should call it a night. She gave me a look like I had told her that we had to put her cat down, but when I explained to her that it was after 10pm and that she’d been playing for over 3 hours she couldn’t believe it “Are you serious?!” The old saying is true that time flies when you’re having fun, and she would have probably stayed up until midnight and had no idea if I hadn’t stopped her.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising is a great game for kids that are maybe aging out of things like Roblox, but are too young for more mature open world adventures like Assassin’s Creed or Ghost of Tsushima. It features lots of options to adjust the difficulty to whatever skill level they’re at, and it’s a well enough made game that mom and dad will have fun with it as well (not that I got a chance to play it myself). If you have a kid that fits that description, or if you’re an adult with a penchant for Greek mythology, Fenyx Rising is going to give you a lot of family fun for a few weekends.