Immortals Of Aveum begins with army general Kirkan telling main character Jak he’s special, and that’s a great way to summarise my time with the game. Ascendant Studios’ debut title is a first-person shooter that’s traded guns for magic, and while the game takes a few missteps, it generally gets things right and offers a fun experience.
Immortals Of Aveum places you in the magical hands of Jak, a former street rat turned Magnus – someone who can wield magic – who is recruited as an Immortal into the Everwar between the regions of Lucium and the evil Rasharn. While most of the game’s Magni can only wield one type of colour magic (Red, green or blue), Jak is a Triarch and can harness all three but lacks the ability to be as strong as someone who specialises in just the one.
Arm Up, Magic Out
For much of the game, you’ll spend your time wandering around the semi-open areas of Aveum with your right arm raised up gun-like, making your way to the game’s next destination to complete an objective and move the story along. The story itself isn’t groundbreaking, but it was an enjoyable experience nonetheless, following Jak as he and the Immortals attempt to win the Everwar, all while Jak faces the demons of his past. There are plenty of twists and turns to enjoy throughout, although some were a little predictable.
The story takes place within the gorgeous world of Aveum, which Ascendant Studios crafted with a lot of expansive lore. There are notes and other readable documents that can be found while exploring the world that offer additional details into its history, and the game’s characters and enemies all have data entries with plenty of information to read up on via your Journal.
Despite the heavy lore, the world of Aveum is devoid of life and interaction. There is no wildlife or people, except at the army camps you’ll frequent throughout the game, and most of your time will see you following paths to destinations or exploring the small parts of Aveum’s countryside. You may find clusters of buildings, but none can be entered, and it wasn’t until the halfway point of the game where its environments began to get more interesting, including the likes of underground caverns, old ruins, majestic libraries, and a floating and crumbling region of Aveum.
The small interactions that you will have are relegated to shooting open crates and pots for gold and Healing or Mana crystals (Consumed to perform special abilities). Outside of that, there are puzzles you can complete to uncover higher-powered Sigils (The game’s equivalent of guns), Bracers that provide armour, and rings that boost your power.
The challenges can involve manipulating environments with magic to uncover pathways to out-of-reach areas, illuminating crystals to shine lights and unlock doors, and shooting coloured targets with the correct magic type for the same reason. Alongside that, the game also comes with tough challenges that you can complete to unlock some of the game’s final magical abilities – you can finish the game without acquiring all magic abilities, but said abilities are somewhat optional and didn’t impact my end-game much.
Enemies, Beasts, And More Enemies
Between all of the above, you’ll regularly be invaded by groups of enemies, which you’ll mostly need to face before you can proceed to the next objective. Thankfully, combat is one of the best aspects of Immortals Of Aveum. Mowing down enemies – beasts of the Aveum world, soldiers, phantoms, and stone constructs – with Jak’s magic was fun, with the game offering you the ability to freely switch between the shotgun-like red magic, the machine gun-like green magic, and the pistol-like blue magic.
While several enemies are defeated within a few hits, others can only take damage from a specific colour of magic, as indicated by their appearance – green phantoms can only take damage from green guns, red Rasharnian soldiers can only take red damage, and so on. Some also have the ability to equip coloured shields, which, as you may have guessed, can only be removed by inflicting damage from a specific colour of magic or performing Jak’s shield-smashing ability.
To accompany your basic magic, the game comes with several unique skill spells you can perform, such as the blue shield smasher, a red shockwave that stuns enemies, and more. You also have several other abilities that you can unlock while progressing the main story: limpets that slow enemies and objects for platforming, a grapple that can be used to swing around the world or access out-of-reach areas, and a laser that can be used to destroy tough crystals for loot, damage enemies or illuminate puzzle lamps to access locked areas.
You’re not just limited to using coloured magic when fighting, as Jak can use a shield to block attacks, can perform melee punches, and can dodge, although there’s a cool down to prevent you from overusing it. Finally, collecting enough power allows Jak to unleash a short burst of Triarch magic that deals huge amounts of damage to enemies and bosses.
Despite all of these cool and flashy abilities, I always felt a little underpowered as Jak. Throughout the game, and particularly towards the end, I found myself getting hit hard by singular stronger enemies and waves of weaker enemies while inflicting little damage, and this was despite upgrading Jak’s highest damage-dealing Sigils. It made enemies feel spongey, and combat occasionally frustrating when the game would send waves of enemies at me or when groups of enemies would teleport into previously-cleared areas, usually on paths to objectives.
Jak’s Got Talent
One of the reasons for the above was the game’s slow progression system. Defeating enemies awards Arcanum (Experience points) that contribute to the Arcanum Bar. Once filled, you’re awarded with Ascensions, which can be used to purchase talents that boost your magic damage, decrease cooldowns, bolster your shield, unlock abilities, and more. There are three skill trees available, one for each of the magic types, but by the end of my playthrough, I had barely made a dent into any of the trees due to the number of Talents available and the too few Ascensions awarded.
Health is improved a little more organically. Jak’s health bar expanded as I defeated prominent bosses throughout the game. Healing is done via healing crystals that can be found in destructible crates and pots or by defeating enemies, and you can increase the number of crystals you can carry at any time – the game starts with three and maximises at five. It wasn’t until late in the game that I realised this though, which meant I trudged through most of the game with much lower healing abilities. Occasionally challenging, but still plenty of fun.
Upgrading also applies to the various sigils Jak can acquire throughout the course of the game. Everything that can be upgraded – sigils, cosmetics, and Health and Mana Crystals – are done so at Forges found throughout the world by using gold and coloured magic essence, which is collected by defeating enemies, opening chests, and smashing open chests and other destructibles. The upgrades helped, but it still left Jak feeling weak throughout the game, and took away some of my enjoyment from the game.
Is Immortals Of Aveum Worth The Buy?
Despite missing some marks, Immortals Of Aveum was an overwhelmingly enjoyable game, and worth a purchase – potentially at a discount – for anyone who enjoys the unique combination of expansive fantasy worlds and first-person shooter gameplay mechanics. The story was fun albeit predictable, the characters suffered from plenty of Marvel-like quips but are memorable, and the progression system was a little too slow for my liking.
But the game was an entertaining ride, with several fun locations to explore, exciting boss fights, a fast-paced combat system, and a story with an open-enough ending that can lead to sequels down the line. If anything, Ascendant Studios has established a great foundation for Jak and the Immortals that they can continue developing in the future, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing where Jak’s adventures take him.
Immortals Of Aveum (2023) Final Thoughts
Immortals Of Aveum is a great debut title from EA’s new Ascendant Studios. The game has its drawbacks but ultimately offers a fun experience with great combat, a gorgeous world, and forms a solid foundation for future titles.
Review copy provided by Ascendant Studios for PS5.
Immortals Of Aveum is out now for PC, Xbox Series consoles, and PlayStation 5.