Ubisoft’s Gods & Monsters looks so much like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that I’m still not sure if I just witnessed a game demo or an act of grand larceny. As the game’s creative director presented his PowerPoint to me, and spoke about “innovation,” I wondered if I was supposed to laugh at his chutzpah. (I most definitely was not.)
From swishy, fairytale meadows of grass, to the heroic pose of the elf-faced protagonist, this game screams “daylight robbery,” or in the argot of the copyright lawyerly class “respectful tribute.”
I know Nintendo and Ubisoft are best buddies, but even so, I can’t help feeling that a Kyoto attorney is, right now, feeling a strong urge to brush up on her “look and feel” fundamentals. I’m not a copyright expert, so it would be gravely inappropriate of me to suggest that Ubisoft has done anything that contravenes legal guidelines here but this game really, really looks a lot like Zelda.
Anyway, that point made, let’s move swiftly along to the pitch. Gods & Monsters is from the same team that made the joyful Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which is one of the best games ever made. It makes use of Odyssey’s engine, though not its combat mechanics, nor its geography, nor its art style.
Instead, this game takes place on a fantasy island in which the myths of Ancient Greece serve as a narrative palette for 3D map exploration, fantasy combat and dungeon-esque puzzle solving (I’m guessing the dungeons in this game are not going to be called “shrines,” but you never know).
Homer narrates the tale of Gods & Monsters to his grandchildren, using a magic lyre to transport the kiddies to this magical world. At that point, the player creates their own hero, called Fenyx, who embarks on a mission to help Zeus and the denizens of Olympus do battle with Typhon and his monsters.
In Greek mythology, Typhon was a giant snake-like creature that tried to hustle Zeus from his throne. This opens up the story to tons of mythological creatures from ancient Greece. In our modern world of multiple fantasy universes, mostly derivative, I welcome this effort to introduce kids to the Hellenic pantheon.
And yes, Gods & Monsters is certainly a game that caters to kids, in terms of its combat, which is much less brutal than Assassin’s Creed’s. It also makes heavy use of mystical powers and light RPG and crafting elements.
It looks like a really pretty game, from a highly competent studio and I’m excited to play it when it arrives on Google Stadia, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox One, and (wait for it) … Nintendo Switch.
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