Immortals: Fenyx Rising is Ubisoft’s take on a Breath of the Wild-style open world game. With a colorful stylized aesthetic, open world that you traverse through climbing and gliding, and puzzle based “Shrines” in the form of Vaults, the influence is clear. But that also invites an enhanced level of scrutiny into how this structure meshes with the game’s moment to moment mechanics. We discuss how Immortals feels in light of it’s source of inspiration, revisiting Umurangi Generation, and more on this episode of Waypoint Radio. You can read an excerpt and listen to the full episode below.
Patrick: I think the [worst shrines] in Breath of the Wild [are better than] Immortal’s [worst]. Just a lot of the puzzles are, “yeah, okay, I did a puzzle.” I have not done many that at the end I go, “fuck yeah, that was a really interesting way to play with the abilities I have here,” it feels more perfunctory. Which is true of a lot of puzzles in a lot of games, it's just a way of mixing up what the player is doing, whereas Breath of the Wild really tried to stretch your brain on what was possible with the power sets that you had in front of you. Instead in Immortals, at least in the five hours I played, it has a lot of “yeah, okay, that was just [okay]” kind of like any incidental combat is like, “yep, that was a combat. Yep, that was a puzzle.” And the highs don't feel all that great.
Austin: I ended up often feeling like I can feel the cleverness of the designer in trying to make the thing with the tools that they had, but that doesn't mean that I feel clever doing the thing. So the example there is this one that I did where I'm inside the kind of vault space where you can't climb on everything, you don't have freedom the way you do outside in the same way. And what was happening is, in front of me there was a gap, a little chasm, then a long pillar with a bunch of crates and stuff on it. And then there's more stuff behind the crates. But I can't see beyond the crates.
Then, right in front of me is like a little trench. And on the right hand side, a big boulder will appear and then it'll roll down the trench. At any point I can pull a switch and a big burst of air will shoot through the trench, which will then shoot the ball into that big wall of crates, slowly breaking down the wall of crates until finally I can get one of these [boulders] past the wall of crates to the next line which is another wall creates I have to knock down, or into a different trench where it'll roll into a stoppy spot where it'll hit a button and it will let me advance further.
Patrick: Classic stoppy spot.
Austin: Classic stoppy spot dungeon design. It's just one of those things where a puzzle for me shouldn't just be “when do I pull the switch” or especially in this one where it's like, “let me just wait and pull the switch again cause I have to slowly break my way through these walls.” This isn't even a thing where if I do it right the first time I'm going to land it, I have to just like “okay, hit the switch, hit the switch, hit the switch.”
And that's not a particularly heroic action. I can't tell a story about that that sounds fun, because it's my character standing in front of a switch, hitting it over and over again. And that's not like a clever use of their powers. That's just the hitting the switch. That's just doing the thing that the space was designed for in a way that feels repetitive and like a factory because of the way that it is just like a bunch of conveyor belts connected with switches that you're hitting. And that is not a particularly fun thing to do and it doesn't narrativize well.
Weird, Zeus shut the fuck up about that. Prometheus didn't have some fun story about how I stood in place and had a switch 30 times in a row. And at the end of it I got a thing, it's fine. I think I may have gotten a “Zeus's lightning bolt” or whatever. And it's like, okay I spent 15 minutes doing that. I don't feel particularly moved from that, which is a disappointment because I would love to have another one of these types of games, but that stuff has to be so on point. I think this game will do well, I think this game will find an audience.
Patrick: I think it's a good game, but when people started [saying], “oh, I want to have the Breath of the Wild itch scratched,” just by point of comparison that like your expectations start going [up]. Even if you're someone that bounced off Breath of the Wild because of certain design choices–
Austin: Yeah, this is actually maybe a good thing for a lot of people who don't want to deal with [some of the systems in Breath of the Wild]. We said this before–
Patrick: The weather, or don't want to deal with weapons breaking.
Austin: Totally, “the numbers go up” in this game, baby! So many who wanted a combat system with way more options, because that's a focus here. If you want to invest in the bird that does a dive bomb attack versus doing the upper cut knock up air combat stuff.
This transcript was edited for length and clarity. Discussed: Immortals: Fenix Rising 12:09, Chronos: Before the Ashes 56:03, Umurangi Generation 1:03:11, Spider-Man: Miles Morales 1:16:45, Twin Mirror 1:22:32, Question Bucket 1:38:11
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