Immortals of Aveum Review
Immortals of Aveum Review
Immortals of Aveum is a brand new first-person magic shooter from EA Originals and developer Ascendant Studios, helmed by Brett Robbins, who has worked on titles such as Dead Space and Call of Duty. Their industry goal is to create well-developed games of the highest quality, and with this as their first foray into the scene, they look to be starting on the right foot.
Immortals of Aveum tells the story of Jak, a talented former street rat who has been recruited to become part of an elite battlemage force, The Immortals. They are tasked to win the Everwar with their longtime enemies, The Rasharn, led by the fearsome Sandrakk.
All the while, the world of Aveum is ravaged by the Wound, an irreversible calamity that threatens to consume the world and all its inhabitants. Will Jak and the Immortals win this neverending war and ultimately save the world from destruction? Strap on that sigil, soldier, and be the battlemage that Aveum needs!
Some Kind of Magic
“Magic shooter” is a fitting description for Immortals of Aveum. As a master of all the magic disciplines, Jak can wield all magic types that lend themselves to the familiar shooter aspects seen in popular titles. Instead of guns, you have sigils, which is a nice change of theme from the usual shooters that we’ve seen over the years and harkens back to classic titles like Hexen.
The convenient part about designating weapons with a particular color is that you don’t even need to know the proper term for it to know how it works and is easy to remember. The Blue Sigil is your basic semi-automatic shot that also controls your shields and lash (grappling hook). The Red Sigil is your shotgun, which also controls the disrupt tool (spell interrupt). The Green Sigil is a homing automatic shot, which is also responsible for dodge and limpets (time control).
The tri-magic system works seamlessly and intuitively throughout the combat sequences as each magic color also corresponds with breaking a specific defensive spell and an enemy weakness. Because of its dependency on colors, accessibility-wise, Immortls of Aveum features a color blind mode that allows players to still recognize the specific magic type.
As you progress through Immortals of Aveum, the entire arsenal and skill tree come together to create a frenetic shooter that doesn’t let up. The developers took care to provide an accessible experience that allows both novice and more experienced gamers to feel skilled as the enemies scale well across all difficulty settings, but still need to utilize their full arsenal to beat the more challenging foes.
Apart from your basic magic skills, you’re imbued with color-corresponding Fury skills, which use up your Fury meter. They are more powerful skills that deal more damage and can disrupt enemy actions or even provide an area of effect that could be used for board clearing. Lastly, you also have a powerful Ultimate, The Dominator, which is a death ray that could be used for crowd control or taking out tanky bosses.
You can build up your Talents as a battlemage, which adds secondary abilities to your Fury spells and some secondary passive bonuses to your basic shots. That would require building up your Ascendant meter and vanquishing more enemies. As you progress in Immortals of Aveum, you can tailor your character to your preferred combat style with these Talents.
Gear in the Immortals of Aveum is streamlined, which doesn’t force you with unnecessary gear grinding. You can also craft gear in forges using gold and the corresponding color essence. Upgrades work the same way and you can deconstruct gear to aid in crafting. Depending on your skill level, you need not upgrade your gear until it’s absolutely necessary, putting the choice in the hands of the players should they choose to engage in crafting or not.
The combat in Immortals of Aveum is possibly the best part of the game as it combines the run-and-gun boomer shooter playstyle with a well-crafted magic system that is highly enjoyable.
The enemy variants of Immortals of Aveum are introduced right away at the beginning of the game and don’t deviate too much from the norm. The bulk of your enemies are Rasharn forces that are also color-coordinated to incorporate specific attacks. Blue Nightblades are nimble types that use shields, arrows, and heavy types such as brutes; Red Swordsmen are close-quarters types that have thick armor; and Green Grenadiers are support types that disrupt and attack you with homing projectiles.
Besides the regular enemy types, you’re also pitted against invulnerable Constructs with specific weak points, Gestalts that can only be damaged by their color type, and Guruks and Oathbreakers are swift juggernauts who require being slowed down as they are hard-hitting. As you progress through Immortals of Aveum, you will face various mini-bosses such as veteran Magni, who are highly skilled with their color magic and have a larger life bar. You will also face off against formidable entities such as Leylodons and Archons who can one-shot you if you’re not careful.
As you progress through the game, some enemies fall into the shooter trope of becoming damage sponges, which can be a source of frustration. I actually expected this issue to arise as it is a common design convention seen in almost all modern action games. Thankfully, with a combination of strategy and skill, every enemy can be vanquished in due time as health crystals are abundant and different tactics can be used with your varied arsenal.
It’s The End of the World as We Know It
Aveum is a fully explorable world with various secrets and puzzles to solve. Treading away from the beaten path is encouraged, as you are rewarded with gold chests and gear chests that contain rare gear. Puzzles are mostly straightforward and involve shooting corresponding color prompts, but they become more involved by adding timed shots or requiring you to use your skills in combination the further you are in your playthrough.
Shroudfanes (puzzle mazes) are some of the more enjoyable areas to explore in Immortals of Aveum. It involves using your different augments such as Grapple to extend your traversal. You’re given a double jump and hover skill as well to explore unreachable areas, and you can also Refract light to open specific doors and Animate to manipulate platforms. You’re rewarded with increased life and mana bar as well as improved gear, which will do well to guide you through the treacherous world.
That said, the world of Immortals of Aveum doesn’t feel too lived in. While you can pick up lore pieces for your codex, you’re bombarded by so much exposition that it’s hard to grasp how the actual populace feels about the world besides your circle of influence. This is where side quests would normally aid to make your world feel alive or a more active codex with audio logs and the like.
Besides the combat and the puzzles, the rest of the world feels static. You’re able to destroy specific containers, but the rest of the environment remains the same. You can interact with specific characters, but there’s no dialogue with the other bystanders. If you don’t do your extra reading, Aveum feels like any other fantasy world, which is a shame because of its rich lore.
Immortals of Aveum takes about 15-20 hours to complete on the default difficulty, mileage may vary, of course. You can continue to explore the world after the campaign, where you can take on the Den of Six–the legendary battlemages. You can scour the world to improve your gear and talents in order to prepare for this extra challenge, which is as challenging as it sounds.
Playing an early build of Immortals of Aveum on the PlayStation 5, the game has some issues that were promised to be which of course has its issues that will be addressed in a future patch. There were graphical hitches such as uneven lighting, some unwelcome motion blur, and frame rate dips, but the game was generally stable without any sign of game-breaking bugs, save for a weird glitch that was easily fixed by restarting the game. Otherwise, our experience was generally smooth, which is somewhat rare in this day and age of triple-A titles.
My major complaint about Immortals of Aveum lies in its story, dialogue, and general narrative presentation, which suffers greatly from being tonally inconsistent. If the game isn’t bombarding you with endless exposition, you’re subjected to forced “funny banter” that results in an alienating experience where I could not relate to the protagonist or even root for him. Like Forspoken, I just wanted the cut scenes to end and get back to the gameplay.
It is a shame because of the beautifully rendered facial animations and character models by Unreal Engine 5. The cast looks photo-realistic and is impressive to watch, but even that did not draw me due to their performances. With the exception of Gina Torres as General Kirkan, the rest of the characters fail to charm, especially the overly smug protagonist.
Jak is annoying, and I’m surprised he actually keeps his mouth shut during the gameplay, which may be because of how the dialogue is written. They easily go from formal fantasy jargon to contemporary slang that adds to the cognitive dissonance, making every time that Jak speaks unenjoyable.
Ironically, the saving grace of Immortals of Aveum is its fantastic resolution. The story setup that’s been buried in endless exposition and banter pays off well, albeit a few chapters too late. Sadly, we have to go through a cringe-inducing eight-hour crucible of terrible dialogue and unnecessary repetition. Because Immortals of Aveum features a linear story, there were no side stories to distract us from the tedium, but thankfully the gameplay is fantastic. I’m relieved the game found its stride in the end, even when I thought almost all hope was lost.
What We Liked:
- Frenetic shooter combat allows you to tailor your shooting style with its many skills and talents.
- A well-crafted magic system that lends itself seamlessly to shooter conventions.
- Beautifully rendered visuals especially impressive facial animations by Unreal Engine 5.
- A fully explorable world with many puzzles, secrets, and bonuses to discover.
What We Didn’t Like
- Story was tonally inconsistent and expository for most of the game.
- Dialogue was distracting and tried too hard to be funny.
- The world does not feel “lived in”, its codex is basic and the world lacks environmental immersion.
Verdict: Buy It!
Immortals of Aveum is a fun time despite its inconsistent story and dialogue. Personal feelings about the story may vary, but it doesn’t change the fact that Ascendant Studios delivered a well-crafted shooter that sidesteps the norm and provides us with something new and exciting thanks to its magic systems and well-implemented shooting.
I would say that Immortals of Aveum had me hooked on its nuanced combat and fully explorable world filled with puzzles and secrets. There’s still much to do after the main campaign including maximizing its streamlined gear and talent system, which certainly adds to its replayability.
If you’re able to forgive the story bits, Immortals of Aveum can provide a frenetic next-gen experience that showcases fantastic visuals and engaging combat systems that end with a satisfying conclusion.
*Immortals of Aveum has been reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.