Immortals of Aveum is the first game of the brand-new Ascendant Studio. Jumping into the game, I was excited as well as skeptical, as new studios sometimes bring new ideas to the gaming world in the cutthroat state of the industry. These games are often broken, but it was a breath of fresh breath to see that the game was not in the state I expected it to be.
As the director Bret Robbins said, the game is a Fantasy Call of Duty with Magic. That is literally the only explanation for the game. Even though the game is inspired by FPS, like Call of Duty and Battlefield, I found the game closer to Bulletstorm, developed by People Can Fly and Epic Games, also published by Electronic Arts. The fight sequences, characters’ conduct, and side abilities all seem quite similar to Bulletstorm.
Briefly discussing the plot, keeping it as spoiler-free as possible, the world of Aveum is plunged into the Everwar, a war that’s been going on forever. The main character, Jak, is a fearless, fun-loving, wise-cracking, sarcastic son of a gun who doesn’t care for the war at all and is friends with a girl who wants to participate in the war. You already know where this is going and what will set up the main character’s intentions.
The game revolves around the war for magic and it’s effect on the world, which brings about a catastrophe due to the overuse of magic. The war is fought over magic, for the control of magic is to control the use of magic so that the use of magic doesn’t bring about the end of Aveum and is being fought by magic, drawing some clear inspiration from some real-world issues.
The only way characters in Immortals of Aveum fight is by basic melee weapons and magic. This is because the world is divided into those who cannot use magic, the Lightless, and those who can. Similar to most big first-person games, players only see a right arm on the screen, which is basically the gun. The sigil on our hand determines what magic you are using, and different sigils allow players to concentrate and shoot their magic in different ways, whether you want to use a sniper-type spell, a basic rifle-type spell, a basic shotgun-like spell, a basic LMG spell or a goddamn minigun. If the arm were covered in any more metal, I would have thought I had an all-in-one gun in Immortals of Aveum.
I can’t say that I felt connected with all the characters in the game. Jak is too wise cracking for a soldier, always being a smart ass, even five years deep into his career as a soldier. Of course, this all is covered by the fact that Jak is ‘Special” and is the key to ending the war and other cliché blah blahs. Jak’s General, Kirkman, is too soft on a disobedient soldier because he is ‘Special’ and is the key to ending the war and other clichés blah blahs. Every moment in the game was set up to hype Jak and make him stand out, but he never did, and it felt forced and awkward. Those old CoD protagonists who didn’t even have a face had more personality.
Speaking about the spells game offers again, and I want to say that the studio struck gold. Other than helping differentiate between their functions, the different spell colors also allow players to solve different puzzles. This also helped me determine how to engage different enemies depending on their spell color. Besides the offensive gunner spells, players also get other totems that allow them to use particular spells, such as a lash that works as the ‘Get over here’ from Mortal Kombat spell or the green orb that slows anything it touches. These spells help flush out the already fast-paced Doom-type combat style of Immortals of Aveum and work smoothly with all your arsenal. Lastly, players also get those classical OP wizard spells that send shockwaves through the ground or throw rocks at your enemies, all found in RPGs; I had a lot to play around with in my time with the game. I would have appreciated a Dodge mechanic, but the jump seems to get me out of tight spots so well.
The skill tree for Immortals of Aveum is quite small and timid, but it is versed enough to make a difference. Every new skill node players unlock matters and affect one of your three spell colors. Either red, blue, or green, different color skills bring different buffs to your spells, such as blue determining your critical hits and defense, green determining your agility and your HP, and red determining your basic damage. The skill tree wasn’t too complex to make things difficult for me, and getting to the nodes I wanted was easy as Ascension points, which are the skill points in simple language, were simple to earn.
Speaking about the world of Immortals of Aveum, it is beautiful even when it has been devastated by the Everwar. The land has flourishing forests that are a delight to explore, old fantasy elfish villages, and beautiful strongholds, and those streams of magic flowing through the air act as the cherry on top. Playing Immortals of Aveum was the first time I had to stop to absorb my surroundings after Red Dead Redemption 2. The lighting, the shadows, the ruins of the past, and the ambiance were mesmerizing. Even with heaps of corruption lying around, Immortals of Aveum doesn’t create a gloomy world, although it would justify the absurdly long war taking place.
The world, although linear, rewarded exploration. There are a lot of small side paths that, although often dead ends, hold chests and upgrade materials and gear pieces. Some of these side paths are locked behind the game’s upgrades and abilities as you progress. This encourages exploring the word even more and messing around with the various puzzles to look for new places and hidden chests.
Players can freely interact with the world, and even though the game gives you a straightforward objective, players have complete freedom to travel to eras they have discovered using a vast channel of teleportals across Aveum.
Ultimately, I won’t say that Immortals of Aveum is a totally new experience, something that I never saw before, or something totally out of the box. It’s just a fantasy shooter, but it did feel fresh for some reason.
Immortals of Aveum is, in short, just a fantasy FPS with magic hands instead of guns, but it somehow captures my excitement and attention. The game was good, yet I hadn’t seen anything. A solid 7 and a half for this experience. I would recommend but not as a new main game.