Immortals Fenyx Rising Deaf/HOH Accessibility
Robust accessibility features in this delightfully funny and stunning new IP from Ubisoft Quebec will have Deaf and hard of hearing players living their best Greek hero lives.
Score9.9 out of 10
I am living my best hero life in Immortals Fenyx Rising. This new IP from Ubisoft, developers of massive photorealistic open world games like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed, is the most delightfully unexpected good time I’ve had in a long while. Immortals feels like Breath of the Wild (but actually enjoyable) and Assassin’s Creed (but funny and stylized) had a baby. An accessible baby at that! Laughing from the moment I started character creation, Immortals is the game I needed to close out 2020.
In Immortals, you play as Fenyx, a mediocre and mortal shield bearer. As you make your way through the world of Immortals, you gain godly powers and become the hero you never thought you’d be. The mystical world is full of enemies, beautiful sights to behold, and puzzles, leaving you never wanting for stuff to do, even though there are no side quests to speak of. I’ll admit the puzzles had me worried. There is no one worse at puzzles than me and nine times out of ten, puzzle-filled games leave me walking away from a game, never to revisit it. Ubisoft has pulled off the incredible though! While Immortals is chock full of puzzles of all sorts, they have found the sweet spot of challenge while not punishing failure.
Many of the puzzles have super helpful…helpers…to guide players (me) through finishing them when they’ve been standing idle, wondering WTF to do next. Like the fresco puzzles shown above. Players can toggle on the option to display those handy little arrows that appear after you’ve just stared at the thing for a short time.
Like Breath of the Wild, Immortals is full of vaults, each with a unique challenge. Unlike Breath of the Wild, Ubisoft has made vaults that I don’t dread because I can choose just how hard I want those vaults and their challenges to be. And there are multiple save points throughout vaults, so no matter how many times you accidentally leap to your death, you never have to start all over again.
I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible the lyre puzzles were. Sound based puzzles are often a barrier to Deaf and hard of hearing players because far too often, they’re not paired with any visual component. The lyre puzzles in Immortals are based on sound and memory. Each note lights with a different color, helping players remember the position of the note played, instead of simply the sound.
It should come as no surprise that Immortals has incredible subtitles. With size options, a semi-transparent background, speaker names, and a nice, legible font, the subtitles in Immortals are as close to perfect as I’ve seen in any game.
Another amazingly well done and helpful feature are the puzzle captions. Many of the puzzles have off-screen sound components that let players know something has happened. They’ve moved a box to the right spot, a portal opened, helpful bits of info that aid in the completion of the puzzle. The only way these could be made even better would be to allow for an optional background to make the large text even easier to spot.
Directional enemy awareness indicators are nothing new to Ubisoft games. But unlike the subtle indicators that can often be easy to miss in Assassin’s Creed games, Immortals puts them right where the player’s gaze is likely to be.
One of my favorite things about Immortals is all the stuff there is to do and collect. The map is absolutely peppered with chests, challenges, corrupted areas to clear, and vaults to explore. When scouting from atop one of the game’s many giant statues, players have the opportunity to get the lay of the land and note every important spot in the game. Paired brilliantly with this visual component is a helpful controller vibration mechanic that really makes perfect use of the refined vibration of next gen controllers. Vibration grows more persistent (though not intense so as to hurt accessibility) as players zero in on a discoverable spot.
I didn’t know quite what to expect in Immortals, coming from a studio so well known for their super serious, bloody, and bleak games. A humorous, stylized IP seemed an odd choice when Ubisoft has done realism and seriousness so well. But Immortals Fenyx Rising, in the 20+ hours I’ve spent with it, has quickly rose to the top of my list of favorites because it’s a rare gem in which everything, from world size to challenge to accessibility just feels good.
A review copy of Immortals Fenyx Rising was provided by the developer / publisher.