Immortals of Aveum is like a typical tentpole action film franchise; most of the elements are well-tuned, but there are some factors that make you question if you’re actually enjoying yourself. While the combat is thrilling, and the story turns out to be solid, there might be some wince-worthy writing and repetitive gameplay that prevent greatness. Immortals of Aveum is so close to being great, but you might understandably hesitate first before grabbing this game.
Immortals of Aveum (PC, PS5 [reviewed], Xbox Series X/S)
Developer: Ascendant Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: August 22, 2023
An intriguing concept
Immortals of Aveum is set in a fantasy world with FPS mechanics and mighty bosses to defeat. Your weapons emit magic, and yet, they feel just like man-made guns straight out of a first-person shooter. You send out submachine gun-like shots at a dragon called the Howler with green magic. Then there’s the shotgun red magic, and the long-range sniper-like blue magic: you’ll get the gist quickly. In other words, Immortals of Aveum takes traditional FPS guns and mechanics and brings them into a new space. It’s like Call of Duty: Magical World at War.
Each of the “guns” feels satisfying, and while the sensitivity may need adjusting at first, it’s a blast to take down waves of enemies with your magical abilities. You also have more powerful attacks that are governed by mana, and are more of what you’d expect from a fantasy game like Dragon Age. You’re sending out a wave of blue energy, and exploding a ball of red matter on the spot. While Immortals of Aveum doesn’t add anything creative with these spells, they are effective during battle. It does feel a bit lackluster though, and I wish the developer Ascendant Studios was a bit more outside the box for these mana attacks.
It’s a good thing then that you can use utility spells like a shield and a whip to give you a strategic advantage on your foes, which happens to be a fantastic way to get around the levels of Immortals of Aveum. You can jump from place to place in an instant, and it’s engaging to see them move so fast. The foundation of a great battle system is here, but it would have been neat to see a deeper variety of spells from Jak after his five years of training.
The repetitive nature of Immortals of Aveum creeps in
Even if the combat system is solid, Immortals of Aveum does suffer from a repetitive gameplay formula. You’ll see the same enemies over and over again. Halfway through the game, you’ll see these giant Slender Man-like figures stomping around: when they attack you, they’ll fire a powerful beam at your face. They’re entertaining to fight at first as you hide behind pillars and try to time your shield perfectly. However, they show up around five times during the main campaign with two of them appearing at once.
Additionally, there’s a serpent-like creature that emerges from an evil substance after it’s cleared out. It pops its head out, spits out poisonous damage, and then leaves before it goes to another hole in the ground. It’s like Whack-A-Mole. These creatures don’t require much strategy, so after they’ve appeared for the 10th time, you’ll get sick of them. About seven or eight hours in, I grew numb to the same enemies popping up time and time again. While the “gunplay” is entertaining as foes frantically run up to you and you’re firing back with fun-to-use guns, it gets old halfway through the game. Ascendant Studios does throw in a new foe type every once in a while, but they don’t come often enough.
The boss battles, however, do impress. You have to be cautious, agile, and smart with every action you make: they’re intense. The final boss battle, which I won’t spoil, is an absolute spectacle and requires mastery of all three elements and your shield. That shield is a lifesaver!
Something else you need to master is how to upgrade your character. There’s a skill tree that truly affects your damage output and strategy within the game. You can also increase your armor and cause a Corrosion effect on your foes. After you finish the story, it encourages you to find loot around the levels and open spaces of Immortals of Aveum. Unfortunately, the loot really didn’t grab me and wasn’t rewarding enough. I rarely drifted apart from the Deluxe Edition DLC weapons because they were so powerful, but the differences in the weapons are so minimal that there’s no incentive. I did like the spear-like alternative for the blue magic, however, which provided a zoomed-in perspective.
The story will be divisive, but it grew on me
I was not fond of the main character or the fantasy world at the beginning. The protagonist is one-note and somewhat irritating, and the dull lore flew over my head. However, as the story progressed, I became more invested. The unlikely group of friends Jak builds in the game, specifically Zendara and Devyn, are delightful and progress personally as they get to know each other. There are twists and turns you don’t see coming. The lore actually begins to get intriguing when the game actually makes you want to give a damn. As the gameplay began to suffer, I stayed for the compelling storyline in the third act.
While the antagonist is just like your average Marvel villain, the morals of your faction and your character come into question: it’s not just a good guy beating bad guy situation. The script for Immortals of Aveum has some nuance that’s rare in the FPS genre. Also, Gina Torres dazzles with a spectacular performance as the controversial leader Kirkan, especially towards the end. Torres has the gravitas for the demanding role, that’s for certain.
Something that doesn’t work so well, however, is the writing at times. Some of the jokes do hit, but most of the time, the one-liners sent a shiver down my spine; and my face winced at some of the dumb phrases that Jak says. The performance behind some lines also feels forced and unnatural. The actor Darren Barnet sounds like he did the best with what he had, but sometimes I just wanted to look away from the screen.
A few minor gripes with Immortals of Aveum
While I mostly enjoyed my time with Immortals of Aveum, there were a few frustrating moments, particularly with the puzzles. While I loved the puzzles revolving around the timing of your spells and using the right color for certain switches, there’s a significant element of the game that is easy to miss. The core issue is that key animations are incredibly downplayed. If you see a green swirl on an object, you can move and twist it to your liking. The problem is that it’s so easy to miss! You have to be directly looking at it to pop up the hard-to-read text saying “Hold [button] to animate.”
I ran around the level like a headless chicken, trying to find a way to get up to a platform, and then by sheer luck finding the animate mechanic. This happened many times, and the game designers did not make it obvious enough. When you are animating a statue, rocks, or any other object with the mechanic, however, it looks incredible. Making a larger-than-life statue shift its body or hands to create a bridge is neat to see.
Immortals of Aveum is gorgeous
Despite some of my gripes with the gameplay, Immortals of Aveum‘s environments are absolutely stunning. At one point, you’re standing on a moving bipedal machine as warships are hitting it with cannon fire. You’re seeing pieces of the wooden bridges fall off, and seeing the huge arms of the robot moving takes your breath away. At another point of the game, there’s a river of lava that is split open, revealing a path forward. There are some incredible set-piece moments that I’ll remember for months because of the size and scale of these scenes. It made those frustrating moments worth it, and pulled Immortals out of the depths of the “okay” realm.
Man, I hope this gets a sequel somehow
Despite this game’s flaws with repetitive combat and an awkward beginning to the story, I hope there’s a sequel on the way. The combat’s thrillingly fast-paced, and the storyline actually grabbed me during its final hours. If a sequel adds way more enemy variety and improves the MCU-like script, Immortals of Aveum 2 could be a hit.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]