Immortals: Fenyx Rising is currently the latest game from Ubisoft. With graphics and game mechanics that can make you believe you are playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild instead, the game tries to paint itself differently by having a Greek myth storyline.
The game sees the terrifying monster Typhon awake and finally defeat the Olympian deities. Zeus, out of options visits his old frenemy Prometheus, who is still chained up and having his liver eaten out daily by an eagle – his punishment for giving fire from Olympus to mortals (us humans).
As Zeus pleads, the titan says he will help by telling a story about a mortal named Fenyx, who will undo the damage Typhon did, returning the fallen deities to their former glory and undoing Typhon’s mess. And so, begins the game, as you venture out as Fenyx, with Prometheus narrating your journey across the Golden Isles.
Compared to the game’s original counterpart, Breath of the Wild, and every other game we’ve reviewed, Immortals has a surprising lack of volcanic activity. The only area main area of volcanic activity is the central region, known as ‘The Gates of Tartaros’. Tartarus is the Greek mytho’s Hell of hells. A place deep down in the Earth, even deeper than Hades the Underworld. Most portrayals of the hellscape class it as the afterlife for slain monsters.
At the heart of this hellish landscape rises what appears to be a volcano! While it may have a faint pinky-red magical glow rising from it, and several floating rocks for added effect, it is most certainly a volcanic peak in appearance. The crater itself is a direct decent to the depths of heart of Tartarus.
Given this is where Typhon resides, it could be said that this volcano is Mt Etna, making the Golden Isles (the map in which you run around on), Sicily. In most of the ancient stories – many of the Greek myths were rewritten numerous times – Zeus cast Typhon into Tartarus, with the scriptures stating he lies directly under Etna itself. And it is his rage that triggers the volcanic eruptions as he yells out in frustration.
These outbursts of rage plague Fenyx, as Typhon send the wraith of a great hero after you, while flinging bombs across the map, with many being aimed at you. Just like the theatrical look of Mt Etna, these lava bombs aren’t the most accurate as they can be launched all the way across the map to wherever you are standing. After crashing down and scorching the ground around them, they have a short delay before exploding.
The central volcano is not the only entrance to Tartarus. Dotted around the map are numerous smaller ‘volcanic vent’ looking structures, caused by Typhon’s awakening. Each lead to a different ‘vault’ that contains a puzzle, which can gain Fenyx a lightning bolt of Zeus’ to boost his stamina (questionably similar to the shrines in BotW…). From a volcanological point of view, these smaller vents could be considered similar to parasitic cones. These occur from magma erupt away from the main vent by passing through fractures within the volcano’s internal structure. However, instead of peeking out from the volcanic slopes they are found throughout the island.
There are a few reddy-brown bubbling pools that do erupt in places from time to time found within the Gates of Tartaros. At I first believed them be lava, however, seeing as you can swim in them without taking any damage, and are clear under the surface then I guess these are just normal pools of dirty water. The bubbling and eruptions could be caused by hydrothermal activity, with some near-surface magma.
Beyond this I have experienced very little volcanism in the game. That being said, there is still one other volcano-related thing I can talk about in this game.
While the study of volcanoes is very important for a large number of reasons (hazard-mitigation, climate, geothermal energy etc), they also have a very deep-seeded root in human culture. All over the world volcanoes have captured the spiritual imagination of countless civilisations.
On Hawaii they worship the volcano goddess Pele. Māori believe in god of earthquakes, volcanoes and seasons, Rūaumoko. Filipinos have Lalahon, goddess of harvests and volcanoes. No matter where you look, or how far you trace back, they are always there in our cultures. And the Greeks, from whom Immortals is based off, were no exception.
The Olympian of the Forgeland
One of the four Olympians you are tasked with saving from Typhon is Hephaestus, god of the forge and the fire in Greek mythology. His Roman persona is Vulcan, who gave his name to the volcanic island Vulcano, from which we get the word ‘volcano’ from. Therefore, Hephaestus has some serious ties to volcanoes.
When Typhon defeats each of the Olympians he weakens them by removing parts of their essence (parts of their soul and memories), which results in them becoming either physically weak (like with Athena and Ares), or mentally complacent with their new lives (Aphrodite and Heph). For Hephaestus, he loses his pain and suffering. This may not seem like a bad thing; however, it results in him becoming one of his automatons – willing to take orders but lacking in creative and original thought.
This sends you on one of the best story-arcs in the game, roaming the Forgelands to reignite Heph’s forge and get his essence back! On the way you learn a lot about the god, from his extremely rough upbringing, to his attempts at earning his place back home. Seeing as he has decent ties to volcanoes, I am going to go through his story, as mostly told by Immortals: Fenyx Rising.
The Cast Out Baby
Hephaestus’ struggles start from Day 1. Being the son of the king and queen of Olympus meant there were high expectations for him to be born this amazing specimen of a god. At the first sight of his ugly baby face and deformed body, both Zeus and Hera were so ashamed of themselves that they cast him out. But instead of kindly placing him on the doorstep of someone else and running away, they literally threw him out of Olympus! The baby bounced down the rocky mountain for a full day before reaching the bottom, causing further disfigurement to his repulsive body.
Thankfully not all characters are unkind on the ancient stories. The broken baby was found by the nymphs Thetis and Eurynome, who raised him on an island safe from his heartless parents. It was here that his skills with metalwork and craftsmanship developed.
Take a seat
Eventually as Hephaestus grew up, the desire to return home to Olympus grew too. But that would be no easy task. Even though his godly skills and heritage certainly were deserving of a spot in the great mountain-top palace, his appearance still wasn’t. If he was to stay in Olympus without his father, Zeus, kicking him back down again he would need to earn his way back.
His opportunity came when Hera wished for a throne fit for an Olympian queen. Stories vary from the throne being a wedding gift to Hera after getting hitched to Zeus, to a competition of who could make the best. Given his natural talents, Hephaestus was more than capable of creating such a throne. As soon as Hera saw it, she knew it was the one. But no sooner has she sat in it did she regret her choice. Heph had rigged the throne to trap Hera from ever escaping the throne. The trap was so well made in fact that none of the other deities should break her free.
Eventually after much cursing from Hera, the orphaned god made his way back home. Everyone was shocked at the sight of him walking into the palace. For most they probably didn’t even know who he was. But Heph announced himself and claimed that only he was able to release his mother. Against their best wishes, his parents had to admit defeat to the child they threw off a mountain to die. The only price they had to pay was to accept their son back and let him have a throne next to them as one of the twelve Olympians. With no other choice, as every other option had proved useless against his ingenious trap, Hephaestus was finally home.
Beauty and the Beast
Not long after returning home to Olympus wedding bells were ringing out for Hephaestus! The ugliest sight in all of the godly halls was to marry the most beautiful goddess of them all, Aphrodite, the goddess of love!
Stories vary about how their marriage came about. One was that he won her hand in marriage for releasing Hera from the throne. After Zeus failed to free his wife, and with Aphrodite’s beauty causing fighting to breakout with the male gods (Hermes, Ares, Apollo and any others), the king of gods announced a competition. Whoever freed Hera would be rewarded the goddess of love’s hand in marriage.
In reality, Zeus was looking for an excuse to marry his son Ares, god of war to Aphrodite. The couple already had a thing going and they appeared to be a perfect match. Afterall, name a more iconic duo than Love and War. Ares was Zeus’ strongest child, so Zeus didn’t fear that he was giving chance gave the other gods a chance to earn Aphrodite. It would at least stop them arguing over her after they failed. But as we know, that plan epically backfired.
In Immortals, Fenyx stumbles across a memorial to the event, with automatons enacting the wedding. While you explore the scene, Zeus can be heard sharing his discontented opinion of the union. Just one more reason for Zeus to not like his son…
As with nearly every Greek deity out there, Aphrodite didn’t remain faithful to Heph, having multiple affairs, often with Ares. This is something you can hear the three discussing from time to time in the Hall of the Gods (the game’s main hub) while Fenyx continues his adventures.
Worthy of a God
As much as Zeus tried to despise his son, there is no way that he could fault Heph’s creations. In fact, he was so good at creating things many of the gods, goddesses and even Greek heroes asked for commissions:
- Designed Zeus’ lightning bolts
- Artemis and Apollo’s bow and arrows
- Athena’s Aegis shield
- Hermes’ winged helmet and sandals
- Perseus’ knife
- Achille’s armour (though he should have done a better job with the boots…)
- Pandora’s Box (yes, he actually made that!)
- Automatons for himself and as guards to protected locals
And so much more!
Whilst having a forge on Olympus, his main workshop was said to be within Mt Etna. Typhon’s rage was meant to be the trigger for it erupting, but it was said that the loud bangs heard from within the crater was the sound of Hephaestus striking his hammer down on his anvil (and sometimes erupting when he accidentally hit his thumb…).
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
It’s fair to say that Hephaestus didn’t have the easiest life, even if he was one of the greatest gods in the mythos. From being thrown off a mountain, to having an unfaithful wife and being bullied all the time. In Immortals, Typhon bottles all of the negative emotions that came from these moments and stores them in the Pandora’s Box.
While Heph is enjoying his new life as a nameless automaton, Fenyx convinces him that it was these painful memories that helped the god to craft some of his greatest inventions. It was Zeus’ constant displeasure for his son that drove Heph to build the best things possible and change his father’s mind. And so, he eventually agrees to take back his essence and become a fully formed god once more to help take down Typhon.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising may not be the best commercial video game to be used as an educational tool for volcanoes like the others we have reviewed. However, it is an amazing game for teaching the player about the stories of a volcanic god, which is almost as important. The ancient stories of Greece may now be considered myths but to all the other cultures around the world it is very important for us to understand and respect them. This is particularly important within geology/volcanology, where we could trample across sacred land or take rocks that the locals consider holy. By understanding the stories behind such deities, we can learn to be a little more respectful in such situations. Even Zeus learns to be more respectful of his son by the end.
I hope you enjoyed the story of the Greek volcanic god, Hephaestus as told by a video game!
If you are interested in more volcanic video game education then please make sure to check out our other blogs!