'Tis the season for Ubisoft's latest round of open-world murder simulators, but this year they have a family-friendly one too. Immortals Fenyx Rising seems like it might be a fun one, smashing Zelda: Breath Of The Wild into Ancient Greek mythology, and you can try it for yourself in a demo. Ubi have palled up with Google to release a Fenyx demo playable for free in your browser using Stadia, the cloud gaming jazz. Yeah, it has the usual cloud gaming problems, but it gives a fair sense of the game. You've only got a few days left to try it, mind.
Alice Bee was quite pleased when she played Fenyx Rising in a lengthier preview version. She said it is "something you could happily give to your slightly older child, or play with a younger one sat on your lap helping you out. Importantly, you can also play it as a grown adult who pays rent and makes their own spaghetti, and still have a blast. Because I did. For hours. I... I think I might be more up for Immortals than I am Assassin's Creed Valhalla – which is normally the sort of thing I'd only say to let my family know I'd been kidnapped and wasn't okay. But I'm fine (honestly), and I'm looking forward to seeing if the final game holds up as much as its opening hours."
Hop on Stadia to play. You'll need a Google account. The demo started last Thursday but I'm telling you now, okay. It'll be available until 4pm on Thursday the 29th (9am Pacific? I think? Stupid misaligned summer timezones). It has a small area to run and climb and fight in, a few puzzles to solve, a few optional bits to find, and some banter between Zeus and Prometheus to introduce and bookend it all.
It's been nine years since I played Demos for Dead Space 2 and Mass Effect 2 through now-defunct cloud gaming service Gaikai and I still have no interest in using it for much more than getting a rough sense of something. The Fenyx Stadia demo was just laggy enough to annoy me, like I was playing with an old wireless mouse which craps outs when someone's using the microwave. Yeah, I could still play it and it wasn't so laggy I couldn't dodge or parry, but it wasn't pleasant.
Stadia also has a demo for Humankind, the new Civilization-ish strategy game from the makers of the Endless games, until Wednesday.
I can see some niche uses for Stadia but still don't see cloud gaming taking off this time around. Stadia's basic package is rubbish, still having to pay retail prices for games. The £9/month Stadia Pro subscription games with access to some games, but it's certainly not a 'Netflix for games' or anything. It's especially wild compared to £25/month for a new Xbox with the mighty Game Pass. Why would you?