Immortals of Aveum is the debut title from AAA indie studio Ascendant Studios and published by EA Originals. This ambitious studio is led by CEO and Game Director Bret Robbins, who was the Creative Director of Visceral Studios’ Dead Space and several Call of Duty games. After five years, they’re finally able to unveil this single-player, first-person “magic shooter” seen in classic games such as Heretic and Hexen.
We got a chance to sit in with Robbins, along with a few key personnel working on the game, to show us a hands-off preview of Immortals of Aveum, showcasing a lengthy gameplay trailer that looks fantastic as it is engaging. No, this isn’t simply an FPS game with magic instead of guns but promises to be so much more.
The game is about the war-ravaged world of Aveum, where combatants fight for supremacy since the discovery of magic. The stakes are high as two factions remain in their war, but once Lucium falls, Rasharn is poised to take control of everything. There is a strong narrative push in this game, and it is something that could not be told in a present-day setting, further distancing itself from being “Call of Duty but with magic.”
You follow the story of Jak, an Unforeseen – someone who unexpectedly manifests magical abilities later in life. He aspires to become an elite battlemage, or Immortals as they’re called, but little does he know that he is now thrust into the frontlines of the war to save the future of Aveum against the forces of Sandrakk. Wielding the power of a Triarch Magnus, Jak can control the three forms of magic – Force (blue), Chaos (red), and Life (green), and must master them to save the land.
From the trailer alone, one can definitely tell how amazing Immortals of Aveum appears with its visual panache mixed with its frenetic magic shooter action. Given the context of the creative direction, players can expect an original universe that’s engulfed in magic and other fantasy elements that make the game stand out in the current landscape.
Immortals of Aveum is an epic single-player campaign spanning 25 hours long and throughout the game, we are introduced to a talented cast of voice actors, including Gina Torres as General Kirkan (Firefly, Suits), Darren Barnett as Jak (Never Have I Ever), Antonio Aakeel (Slow Horses, I Came By) as Devyn, and Lily Cowles (Roswell, New Mexico, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War) as Zendara.
Seeing Unreal Engine 5 in action really makes the cutscenes stand out in an impressive way. The character designs are as photorealistic as they can be, and the fidelity of the visuals is jaw-dropping. The transition from cut scene to first-person combat is seamless, and it feels as though the line between gameplay and cinematics is blurring ever so slowly.
Immortals of Aveum‘s shooting is fast-paced and action-packed, but it also employs strategic elements such as the ability to control three sets of magic. Blue is the standard issue accurate long-range shot, while Red is a close-range high-damage scattershot. Jak also has control of Green magic, which is a rapid-fire projectile that can home into targets.
The colors aren’t just for show, as Jak will need to use the right type of magic for the right situation. Blue-shielded enemies will require magic to break, and the same goes for the other colors. As enemies get tougher, Jak can gain talents to use on a robust skill tree to improve his magical capabilities, personalizing his playstyle through these upgrades.
Proving to be an offensive juggernaut, Jak has access to greater spells known as Furies. One such example is a Shatterspell, which shoots magical ground spikes at unsuspecting foes. These are a drain on Jak’s resources and will require mana crystals to use again.
When not upgrading talents, Jak can also upgrade his arsenal through the sigils in his right hand, which can also be upgraded, purchased, and customized to suit the player’s playstyle. He can equip magical equipment such as rings and bracers to increase his magical ability, along with finding chests with gold and arcanum to help purchase better equipment and talents.
Furthering the strategic aspect of gameplay in Immortals of Aveum, Jak has access to the Lash, a tool that can pull enemies toward players to control the advantage on the battlefield. Furthering his magical abilities, Jak can also utilize a blink spell to get away from danger, giving him another avenue of defense apart from blocking with his magic shield.
While there are puzzles and exploration elements in Immortals of Aveum, the real highlight is the exhilarating combat that Ascendant Studios seem to have nailed quite well. Combat looks punchy, and the visual effects really splash color into the ravaged world of Aveum.
Overall, Immortals of Aveum looks like another very promising effort from EA Originals. Focusing on a single-player experience, the developers have no plans at the moment to add multiplayer capabilities but have also mentioned that there is no in-game monetization planned, and players will not be required to always be online to play, which is always a good thing.
Immortals of Aveum launches on July 20, 2023, for PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC.