I liked the name Gods and Monsters. It was a bit plain, perhaps, but pulpy and straightforward. You knew what you were getting. It suggested some big godly powers and even bigger mythical beasts to whack them with, all set in a fantasy Ancient Greece. This would have been fine, I suppose. But it’s clear from a few hours’ play that Ubisoft has grander ideas, and that after a lengthy delay, some re-working and a new 3rd December release date, the game now known as Immortals Fenyx Rising wants to be something quite a bit bigger.
Despite its MOBA-ish moniker, Immortals is an action RPG from the talented Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Odyssey team at Ubisoft Quebec. The narrative is told in a very different way, but there is a similarity to the feel of its light-hearted storytelling, while its combat and gear systems are even more familiar still. It’s immediately apparent the other big influence is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild, which is riffed on to a surprising degree.
Plenty of games now use Zelda’s stamina meter, or employ a similar glider. But Immortals’ landscape is essentially defined by Nintendo’s Switch opus, with a mix of Odyssey’s more fantastical realms thrown in for good measure. Spread across its world are combat and puzzle shrines – sorry, “Vaults” – and tricky little puzzle areas on the open map that require the use of the game’s physics engine to solve. There’s a limited version of cooking. There’s a power to pick up items with magnets. You can head straight to the world’s toughest areas from the very beginning. I could go on. If Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was Ubisoft’s take on The Witcher, this is its version of Zelda, in a year where the closest Nintendo fans will get is a spin-off hack-and-slash.