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Immortals Of Aveum

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Ascendant Studios
Release Date: Aug. 22, 2023


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PS5 Review - 'Immortals of Aveum'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 21, 2023 @ 9:00 p.m. PDT

Immortals Of Aveum is a single-player, first-person magic shooter that delivers a visceral, cinematic campaign.

In Immortals of Aveum, the kingdoms of the fantasy world of Aveum are embroiled in a brutal, unceasing war dubbed "The Everwar" over magic. The war is down to two kingdoms, the ruthless Rasharn and the noble Lucium. Players control Jak, a street rat whose seemingly normal life is interrupted by a sudden Rasharn attack that leaves his family dead. His life is only saved when he awakens to his innate magic power. He's a rare Triarch, who's gifted with all kinds of magic, and with this newfound power, he sets out to join the Immortals, a gifted band of Lucium soldiers whose goal is to end the Everwar.

Immortals of Aveum is a great example of how to not write characters. Almost every character is a nonstop engine of anachronistic snark and quips. Every comment, every line, every plot beat needs to be met with some combination of snide and joking. Jak is front and center because he can't stop making snarky remarks. He has a quip for every line, and very few of them are remotely clever or make sense.

This really hurts the world setting. Despite having lived in the world his entire life, Jak treats almost everything like it's the first time he's encountered it. He wants to make sure that you, the audience, know that even the characters think it is absurd. It is difficult to care about anything that happens when everyone seems flippant about it. Even when the villains commit great atrocities or do terrible things, everyone is blasé about it, and that softens most of the impact. Within minutes, they're back to joking. Even games like Guardians or the Galaxy know when to allow moments to breathe.

And even if you discount all of that Immortals of Aveum feels like something thrown together by an AI generator which is told to make a fantasy story. It's just filled with unending cliché after unending cliché. Every twist, ever plot beat, every character moment is so absurdly painfully rote and predictable that it becomes nearly impossible to get invested in the story even if Jak doesn't make you want to throw him off the nearest cliff.

The combat in Aveum is effectively "magical FPS." As a Triarch, Jak can manipulate all three colors of magic, which serve functionally as glowy laser beam guns, of which you can use one of each color. Blue weapons are single-shot all-purpose weapons, red are akin to shotguns or grenade launchers, and green are machine guns. You can equip different gauntlets that change how the gun functions. Blue magic can be a reliable pistol analog, a more powerful magnum, or a scoped sniper rifle. The gauntlet you equip determines the type of weapon, its attack power, and any passive bonuses you get.

In addition, you also have Control and Fury attacks. Control attacks are color-coded special abilities. You have a weapon in your right hand and a Control attack in your left hand, and you can combine them in various ways. Blue is a "lash," which you can use to grab enemies and yank them to you or pull yourself to them, green is a glowing green goo pile that slows down enemies and some objects, and red is a magical focusing laser that can interrupt enemy spells and stun them. You can swap between the three, and they're held in Jak's off hand.  

Fury attacks are bigger special attacks. They have their own mana bar, which is used up by casting and requires you to either use a consumable or have specific upgrades to replenish. They allow you to do things like cast a giant shockwave of energy, fire homing missiles, or create an explosion. They're your big damage items, and they're useful when dealing with high-danger enemies. You also eventually gain the power to immolate foes by combining all three colors in a giant laser beam of death, which charges as you use Fury skills.

Magical colors aren't just for flavor. Each enemy type tends to be vulnerable to the same color of magic they use. Melee fighters tend to glow red, which is your excuse to use close-up red magic, while long-range fighters tend to favor blue. This effectiveness is further increased when enemies use color-coded shields, so you can overwhelm them with the same kind of color attack. It isn't as simple as rock-paper-scissors because you can still make good use of other colors, but generally, an enemy's color coding suggests the best way to fight them.

Defense also is a tad unusual. Jak's primary methods of defense are the Blink and Shield spells. Blink is a rapid dodge, which is good for narrowly avoiding attacks but has an extremely long cooldown, whereas Shield allows you to raise a powerful (but breakable) energy shield that can absorb most enemy attacks but slows you down while you're using it. Both defensive spells can be upgraded to do things like reduce damage taken, improve cooldowns, or add special bonuses, such as a huge boost to armor for a short time after dodging. It means that defense is more proactive than it usually is in an FPS, which is a neat touch.

Combat in Immortals is fun enough, but nothing is super exceptional. The game is fast paced and fluid enough that it's easy to enjoy yourself as you buzzsaw through swarms of enemies and shift between spells. The enemy design is a touch too generic to stand out as much as something like Doom Eternal would, but it's a fun enough experience. The game makes various tools feel distinct enough that I didn't choose one particular weapon and stick to it.

Outside of fighting, Immortals offers some light Metroidvania exploration. You can unlock portals that go back to previous areas of the game that you can take basically any time the plot isn't forcing you somewhere. As you gain new abilities, you'll be able to return to previous areas to find hidden challenge areas and treasure chests that contain more powerful weapons, equipment, and even a few bonus spells. It isn't strictly necessary to do so, as the basic arsenal will get you through the game, but there are some cool things to find if you dig hard enough.

Perhaps the core problem I have with Immortals is that exploration doesn't feel particularly great. It's a game where a more linear plot-driven experience would've probably worked in its favor. While the game looks relatively wide open at first blush, you quickly run into the fact that your nice selection of mobility powers play extremely poorly with the many invisible walls or poorly signposted areas. It flies counter to the game theoretically wanting you to return and explore previous areas for power-ups.

For example, the game gives you the ability to hover, but  so many areas are designed to be inaccessible that trying to use it to explore causes you to run into invisible walls for little rhyme or reason. The game expects incredibly rigid positioning for some powers, and in other cases, you're not allowed to do something that should work because they want you to use a different power instead. There's nothing wrong with this kind of backtracking if you design the game around it, but populating areas with seemingly surmountable obstacles only to block you off with tons of awkward barriers turns the fun of a Metroidvania into something tedious. I normally love backtracking in games like this, but the act of traversing the map and finding the right area wasn't very fun.

That about sums up Immortals of Aveum. You have a mostly linear plot that occasionally lets you re-explore previous areas to obtain some power ups. There are some hidden challenges, including some that are hidden post-game, but that's about the sum of the world. Most of what you explore is going to be largely empty areas filled with some monsters and chests, but some of the better areas don't get a lot of time spent on them. Even the optional bosses are mostly lackluster, with several being bigger versions of existing enemies.

Immortals of Aveum looks OK but not particularly great. The character animations are shiny and cool, but the actual environments are dull as dishwater and feel like something out of a generic fantasy setting. The game runs smoothly most of the time but suffered from some hitching here, and the game swapping into prerendered video was shockingly noticeable for something that doesn't offer a huge improvement to the visuals. The voice acting is mostly good and works well around the lackluster script, but occasional line reads feel like they don't fit the context of the story. I can't complain about the actors, and they work extremely hard to make the story work.

Immortals of Aveum isn't a terrible game, but it is an incredibly forgettable one. Everything it does feels like a paint-by-numbers scenario, and it doesn't feel like it captures any sense of wonder. The annoying quipping dialogue drags you out of the world, and without that, you're left with a solid, if entirely unexceptional, magic-themed FPS. There's not much to recommend Immortals beyond giving you gun-themed magic instead of guns. I could see it perhaps finding an audience once its price point is lower, but most people will probably want to wait and see — or at least watch some videos of Jak's quips and see how tolerable they find it.

Score: 7.0/10

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