Immortals of Aveum Is a Visually Impressive Spell-Slinger that Makes You Feel Powerful (Hands-Off Impressions)
Spells go pew pew.
Right off the bat, Immortals of Aveum gave me major Destiny vibes. It was all there. The magicky sci-fi setting, the mesh between medieval clothing and the polished sheen of futuristic metal. Really, the only thing that was missing was the guns, and the distinct absence of multiplayer, and maybe that really does make all the difference.
Developed by Ascendant Studios and published under the EA Originals project, Immortals of Aveum has been billed as a futuristic spell-slinging first-person shooter game, except with fewer gun pew pews. In a hands-off presentation last week, I got to check out an extended preview of the game and got a better sense of what to expect with Ascendant Studios’ big outing. Immortals of Aveum has been in development for the past five years, and while I wasn’t necessarily blown away by what I saw of the combat and story, the fact that this is going to be a single-player, story-driven adventure is actually pretty exciting.
Aesthetically, it’s hard not to compare Immortals of Aveum to the likes of Destiny, Anthem, and Godfall. All multiplayer-focused games with an emphasis on loot, grinding, and whatever other arbitrary numbers and stats slapped onto a piece of gear designed to kick your lizard brain into overdrive. You’ll play as Jak, an Unforeseen, which is really just another word for Muggle, or someone born with no magical abilities. But of course, due to plot reasons, he eventually gains magical abilities and becomes a Triarch — a person with the power to wield all three colors of magic.
It’s not long before he joins up with the titular Immortals, a group of spellcasters committed to ending the Everwar, a long-lasting conflict between three major factions over magical control. Aveum has been ravaged by war for thousands of years, and the world itself is as fractured as it is beautiful. Truly, this game’s cinematics are pretty darn impressive, with stunning glowing leylines sprouting everywhere, all of them leading down to the Shrouded Realm, an entire world that lies beneath the surface.
The world isn’t just there to look pretty, of course; there are plenty of environmental puzzles to take on, and tons of optional routes to explore. As you’re adventuring, Jak will learn new abilities and spells to help him tackle more puzzles and defeat his foes in more interesting ways. At its core, though, Immortals of Aveum’s combat system seems to operate around a color-based mechanic similar to what we saw in the recently released Hogwarts Legacy.
There are three spell colors: blue, red, and green. At some point, you’ll start encountering enemies with color-coded shields, and you’ll need to break them with an appropriately colored spell. It all seems rather basic, but the combat is made more interesting with various tools that Jak has at his disposal. He has a whip-like spell that lashes out and pulls enemies towards him, along with a personal shield that he uses to defend himself, that also lets him shoot through it.
The basic spells are also kept fairly simple; while Immortals of Aveum certainly isn’t your traditional first-person shooter with guns, the spells bear strong similarities to regular pistol fire, automatic rifles, and shotgun blasts. From what I saw in the presentation, Jak’s movement is also slower and a little clunkier than you might expect. You need to be a little more deliberate with the way you move your character, and while there is some verticality to look forward to in combat, it’s pretty clear that the game wants you to rely more on using your shield to block rather than zip back and forth like a teleporting warlock.
The shield is instrumental in making Immortals of Aveum feel less like a traditional cover shooter, as you’re literally taking your cover with you and using it in interesting ways that haven’t been explored in other games in the genre.
Towards the end of the presentation, we also got a glimpse of a griffin/dragon-like boss fight, where Jak had to be methodical in dodging its fiery breath while blasting spells at it. The sequence was short, but as simple as the combat looked at first blush, it’s hard not to be taken in by the whole spectacle of it.
Ascendant Studios went on to reiterate that Immortals of Aveum is meant to be a single-player experience, and that even if there was going to be any form of co-op or multiplayer content, they aren’t ready to talk about that just yet anyways. The developers were quick to impress upon us that the goal is to make the player feel powerful, and with how crunchy the combat looks and feels, I found myself unexpectedly excited to get some proper hands-on time with it, especially since I’d gone into the presentation with virtually no expectations whatsoever.
I won’t lie to you and say the characters were all that compelling or interesting. Sure, we only got a brief glimpse of the main players, but on the surface level, they seemed like your typical video game side characters. The stoic leader, the joker who makes wisecracks from time to time… you know what I mean. I’ll admit that the characters giving off a less-than-stellar first impression does give me pause, especially for a game that’s supposed to be all about the story, but given how polished everything else looks so far, I might even be willing to overlook that.
A lot of care and attention to detail has gone into the world-building, and just the overall feel of the world. From the insanely clean UI and seamless transition between cinematic cutscenes to first-person view, to the immaculate enemy designs (at one point, I spotted a very daunting looking enemy that I could only describe as a “sci-fi Sauron-looking motherfucker”), Immortals of Aveum is one of the more visually impressive games I’ve seen this year, and that’s saying something, considering the graphical leaps and bounds we’ve seen in the industry over the past decade.
Immortals of Aveum is set to be released for PC and consoles on July 20.