Immortals of Aveum is the debut title from Ascendant Studios, a developer founded in 2018 by Bret Robbins, former creative director of Sledgehammer Games, one of the studios responsible for the franchise. Call of Duty. Precisely for this reason, comparisons between the magic shooter and the Activision series were inevitable, even if the game leans more towards the side of DOOM.
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In addition to the aesthetics, focused on the fantastic and supernatural, some design decisions, gameplay and progression refer to id Software’s FPS, although the game also borrows concepts from CoD, Battlefield and other FPS, which highlights its biggest defect: Immortals of Aveum it’s a patchwork quilt, which brings together other people’s ideas under a magical skin.
War is war, with or without magic
The main plot of Immortals of Aveum it’s a bit beat up. The world of Aveum is ravaged by a war for control of magic, involving the five nations of the planet. The population is divided between those with more and less affinity with magic, and needless to say that the first, the magni, are the nobles and exercise dominion over the lightless, the cannon fodder.
Jak (Darren Barnet, recently seen in the movie Grand Touring) is a man without light who lives in a slum under a bridge in the kingdom of Lucium, the only one who still manages to resist the onslaughts of the kingdom of Rasharn and its bloodthirsty leader, the great magnus Sandrakk (Steven Brand, Lord Vitomir of Vikings: Valhalla).
On one of these forays Jak’s entire family goes into the ditch, and of course, that releases his uncontrollable fury (Careful, TV Tropes), in which he launches a devastating magical attack on his enemies.
Jak is then revealed as a “fortuitary”, a rare case when a lightless one gains access to an enormous amount of power, equating him to a magnus, but our protagonist is even more special, a “triarch”, and can manipulate all the three aspects (colors) of magic, where most can only master one. Yes, the ready joke of the How–of-All-Tradesand I already told you to be careful with the TV Tropes.
Jak is then trained for 5 years by Kirkan (Gina Torres, Zoe Washburne from Serenity e Firefly), Lucium’s grand magnus to become an immortal, the elite of Lucium’s magni elite, and a key to winning the war and Sandrakk, before the world of Aveum itself is destroyed, by abuse of magic.
Deja vu magico
Immortals of Aveum it’s a fantastically themed FPS, but it’s definitely not a Call of Duty with spells, as almost all the specialized media claims to be. He uses a number of conventions of the genre, but his cadence leans much more to the side of DOOMthanks to its mechanics.
There’s no crosshair focus mode, for example. The player needs to use the directional pad and position the reticle perfectly over the target, which slightly increases the difficulty of casting precision spells, but most of the time, you won’t need it.
Thanks to Jak being able to use all three colors of Aveum’s magic, his repertoire of enchantments and customizations is vast. The blue seals (bracelets) provide accurate shots at medium distance and medium power, the red ones have powerful area attacks, but with low “ammo” and short range, and the green ones deliver great ammunition at long distance and great cadence, but low accuracy.
Basically SEALs are assault rifles, shotguns, and machine guns respectively, but there is also other equipment. Jak can use additional accessories on his left hand, such as a lasso that pulls an opponent and opens his defense, and a slowdown that applies the slow motion effect, useful also for solving puzzles.
Equipment includes rings that improve your stats, and there is also a progression tree that unlocks new spells, strengthens your attributes, etc.
In addition to seals, Jak can use spells with combinations of buttons, which allow him to break enemy shields, or hit targets at great distances with medium-powered homing firecrackers, in addition to his special (and limited) ability, which is basically a Kamehameha.
Moving on to the technical part, Immortals of Aveum it earns points for building a very original world, with a large and rich mythology that leaves much to be explored in the future, but as an FPS, there’s little to highlight. Apart from the theme and some original ideas, most of its elements came from other games, inside and outside its genre. It’s as if Ascendant Studios had made a “stone soup” and tossed everything they found in the fridge into the pot.
The visuals of the game are beautiful, but not impressive at all and could very well pass for a PS4 or Xbox One game. The soundtrack uses instrumental themes and other more modern ones, to give a cool air to the combat, which can cause certain strangeness.
In addition, the localization by EA was done correctly, and we have all the texts and subtitles without any apparent error, to a good job of dubbing.
Immortals of Aveum is a curious FPS for the end of 2023, and an option to the remake of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. While not on the same level as Activision’s franchise, Ascendant Studios’ debut more hits than misses, even using several ideas from others.
In my view, it’s an exercise in curiosity and an honest variation on the genre, which escapes the commonplace.
At the end, Immortals of Aveum is one of the most curious releases of 2023, and even if it’s not memorable, it opens up possibilities both for future titles set in the world of Aveum, which deserves to be better explored, and for Ascendant Studios, which deserves to get on the public’s radar.
Immortals of Aveum – Datasheet
- Platforms — PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows (reviewed on PS5, copy provided by Electronic Arts);
- Developer — Ascendant Studios;
- Distribuidora — Electronic Arts;
- Parental Rating — 14 years old.
- Well-executed world-building, and its own mythology;
- Interesting plot, with several plot twists.
- Take away the magic skin, and few innovative mechanics remain.