Immortals Fenyx Rising was one of my favourite games of last year. It had quirky characters, beautiful environments, and really enjoyable gameplay. Its first DLC, A New God, was disappointing in that it focused on the puzzle aspect of the base game, leaving behind the charm, exploration, and combat that made Immortals such a great game. I was cautiously optimistic about the planned story-based DLCs, as they seemed like they’d be more in line with what I wanted.
Myths of the Eastern Realm has all the elements that made the base game awesome, but it somehow manages to miss the mark a little bit. In fact, it’s perhaps one of the strangest DLCs I’ve ever played. Instead of taking the base game’s formula and adapting in new and interesting ways, Myths of the Eastern Realm is almost identical to the base game, albeit on a much smaller scale.
This time around, you play as Ku, a young (and sadly non-customisable) wannabe hero whose friends and family have all been turned into clay statues. He finds himself in a mythical land where some great evil has banished the gods and petrified all the humans. Sound familiar? Ku is guided by the goddess Nuwa and Lord Gong Gong, the only surviving deities, to restore balance to the world and save everyone from their horrible fates.
The land you find yourself in has two major areas, which mirror Aphrodite’s green lands, and Ares’ war-torn realm from the base game. These lands are filled with beasts and monsters, Eastern-flavoured reskins of the creatures in the base game. The buildings have an Asian vibe, and the collectibles have been given new names and models, but you’re still basically collecting ambrosia and various plants and gems to improve your gear and abilities.
Speaking of Ku’s abilities, these are more or less exactly the same as Fenyx’s, with a few new animations or spell effects. You start out with most of these and unlock the last few in the early parts of the DLC. Character upgrades now come in the form of enhancements to your two major abilities, Ares’s Wrath and Hephaistos’s Hammer, activated as you increase the combo metre during fights. All of Fenyx’s abilities have been renamed to fit into the new setting, but they are functionally identical.
To further this feeling of deja vu you’ll be experiencing throughout this DLC, Ku’s animations are almost all the same as Fenyx’s. While I’m fully behind the reuse of resources where appropriate, Ku rather lacks Fenyx’s spunk and attitude, so he sometimes looks a bit odd striking some of Fenyx’s iconic poses.
Gameplay wise, things are very much the same as the base game. Before playing this DLC, I would have said that this would be a good thing, as Immortals had a good formula going. However, having spent 70+ hours in the base game, the myth challenges, puzzles and races have lost some of their charm. I don’t know if it’s because of my own fatigue from playing the base game so much, or because these puzzles and challenges are actually less fun, but they certainly seemed to have lost their charm.
Still, the nearly identical gameplay is not where Myths of the Eastern Realm really stumbles. The gameplay of Immortals was not the only factor in making it such a joy to play. There was the cast of characters: the four gods were great, as was Fenyx herself, but the irreverent narration of Zeus and Prometheus really made a difference. This was noticeably absent in A New God as well as Myths of the Eastern Realm, and the experience is poorer for it. I even missed Hermes’ general silliness. The characters in Myths are lovely, but mostly feel like poor copies of characters from the base game – Lord Gong Gong is a good example: he’s essentially just reskinned Ares.
The core story of Myths of the Eastern Realm can be completed in under 10 hours, though there are of course many puzzles you can complete to extend your playtime. There’s some new skins to collect for your armour, weapons, and pets, and these get imported into your main game after completing the DLC, which is a nice touch. The story itself is almost identical to the base game, except the Big Bad is only properly introduced right before the final boss fight.
Sadly, all of this left me very disappointed, and I found myself trying to get to the end of the story as quickly as I could, the opposite of how I played the base game. The new area and characters look amazing, and there’s lovely music that matches the new realm, but it’s just a fresh coat of paint on a poor copy of the original.