When I originally previewed Immortals of Aveum, it was a game that really grabbed my interest primarily due to the calibre of the developers bringing it to life, but also because of its very apparent and deep world building and it’s incredibly flashy visuals. I was very curious at the time about how the game would actually play and if its mechanics and characters would hold up over the proposed 25 hour long experience. Thankfully after playing it, I was glad that the team at Ascendant Studios have managed to nail most of what they were going for and delivered a game that is fun to play, and offers a fresh break from so many of the large scale, very lengthy games that have also been releasing in recent months.
For those that may not be aware, Immortals of Aveum is the debut title from Ascendant Studios. But despite being a new studio, the team is made up of many veteran developers that have worked on previous AAA titles such as Bioshock, Call of Duty, Borderlands and Halo. Game Director Bret Robins has previously been the creative director for Dead Space as well as multiple entries in the Call of Duty series, so I knew the talent was there to make Immortals of Aveum something of quality.
Immortals of Aveum is developed using Unreal Engine 5 and is a first person single player, story driven, magic shooter experience. In the game you play as Jak, a Magnus, which is the game’s term for a battlemage. Events early in the game lead to Jak manifesting his magical abilities and Jak is quite unique within this world as he’s referred to as a Triarch, allowing him to wield all 3 colours of magic that exist in the world of Aveum, blue, red and green magic. Because of his abilities, Jak is then recruited into a group known as the Immortals, a group of powerful battle mages that kind of act as the special forces of this world.
The world of Aveum has been ravaged in an ongoing battle for over 1000 years in an event known as the Everwar, a fight over the control of the worlds ley lines and its magic, fought between the kingdoms of Lucium and Rasharn. Jak being a Triarch becomes a key component in fighting back the forces of Rasharn and preventing their takeover of the world’s magic.
One of the best things about Immortals of Aveum that I enjoyed the most was its worldbuilding and lore. I would love to see this world explored more in follow up games, even with or without the established characters or even in spin off media such as novels, comics or even an animated series, which I think the lore would fit quite well with.
Gameplay wise, I was impressed by how Immortals of Aveum’s systems blended to create a flashy and fun experience and also how nicely it felt to play. I was worried that the gameplay may not hold up or stay fun for the overall length of the game, but slinging spells through hordes of enemies always felt great and the experience stayed fresh thanks to the gameplay changeups the different magic types and the customisable skills offered. And the story of the game also retained my interest thanks to the numerous twists and turns the narrative takes, some of which I didn’t see coming at all.
As briefly mentioned, Jak is capable of utilising 3 main magic types. Each have different uses, and are then further customised with the various sigils that can be unlocked and equipped. Blue magic acts like an accurate long range magical shot, red magic is a high damage, close range shot similar to a shotgun blast and green magic unleashes fast paced fully automatic bursts of magic. Jak being a triarch is able to wield all three types and the magic is focussed through his Sigil, the device seen on his arm in the game’s key art. Throughout the game, Jak is able to gain access to new Sigils, upgrade the ones he has and you’ll have the ability to customise them to better suit your individual playstyle. Jak’s magical abilities aren’t just for attacking your foes with magical bolts of energy. Jak also has the ability to summon a magical shield at any time that can protect against enemy attacks and Jak can even blast his own spells back through the shield to take down enemies while still being on guard with the trade off being some movement speed.
The game also features a progression system where you’re able to find or buy new gear or items and also unlock new Talents. These Talents act as skills that you may be familiar with from other games, and there are separate Talent trees each for red, blue and green magic to increase your abilities and strengthen these types of magic to your own preference. This combined with Jak’s skills unlocking progressively throughout the playthrough allows you to feel like you’re actually enhancing the more you play and unlocks like the control spells, sigils, jump hover along with other abilities that assist in the traversal and puzzle aspects of the game, allowing you to access a wider range of areas and solve challenge puzzles that are scattered throughout Aveum, bringing a MetroidVania aspect to the game, granting new things to access and see when retreading through areas you’ve previously cleared but now returning with new abilities that weren’t present when you first traversed the level.
When it comes to the game’s visuals, I was impressed for the most part by how the game looked and performed. The world itself world is very lush, rich and highly detailed and features a diverse range of biomes to explore which keeps it visually interesting. The character models are quite realistic and capture the likeness of the actors well, and the clothing, armour and magical effects are rendered in incredible detail thanks to the latest iteration of Unreal Engine.
The character performances are really well done and showcases the acting talent of the main cast. The writing isn’t always top notch but it also plays into the game’s tone that’s been established and doesn’t feel out of place, just somewhat jarring in the moment at times. It’s a shame that the rendering capabilities of the engine still haven’t perfected mouth movement and realistically depicting teeth, as the game still slips slightly into the uncanny once the characters actually begin to talk with one another. It’s a problem many games still have, and I hope that in the coming years it can be eliminated so that the overall performance can be taken to the next level and match where we’re currently at with visually capturing the likeness of actors which is hitting incredible levels.
The art direction overall is another key highlight of the game, especially when it comes to the creature and world design. The environments are varied and rendered with a lot of detail, really pushing the fantasy aspect of the setting to the forefront. Some of the common cannon fodder enemies do look very similar, fairly generic and in some stages are way overused, but when it comes to the more notable characters and especially the bosses I was really impressed with how awesome they looked, their individual abilities and the challenges they presented.
I played through the game on PS5 and found the performance on console to be great for the most part. It does occasionally have what i call the vaseline effect during some of the sequences, notably blurring some of the features or perhaps rendering at certain times at a lower resolution so to not tank the performance, but otherwise the game for the most part looks and plays really great. I’m glad they were able to pull it off as I was a little worried that performance would take a hit trying to render all of the flashy effects, the magical blasts, the environments and the numerous enemies all at once but thankfully what was shown in the trailers is a true representation of the final game.
Overall, Immortals of Aveum is a great first effort from the team at Ascendant Studios. The world itself and the story being told is really interesting and it features some great performances by its core cast of characters. The writing isn’t always perfect and there are some minor visual gripes but I enjoyed the what the game had to offer overall and am most keen to see where this world can be expanded on either in sequel games or via branching out into other types of media.
A PS5 review code was provided by EA for the purpose of this review.
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