STAFF REVIEW of Immortals of Aveum (Xbox One)

Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
by Chad Goodmurphy

Immortals of Aveum Box art Over the years there have been many first-person shooters, but few have involved using magic as a weapon. That’s not the case with Ascendant Studios’ debut, Immortals of Aveum, which brings magic to the forefront. It’s all magic, all the time, and sets itself apart from other games because of that.

Immortals of Aveum is the story of a world in chaos. A war – called the Everwar – continues to rage on, while the realm suffers from a type of blight that’s threatening to consume it piece by piece. We play as Jak; an orphan and street thief, who lives with his friends in a run down home in a very run down and ramshackle city. One that is hardly even considered when people think about regions within Aveum.

Things begin as Jak and a friend attempt to steal money from someone watching a play, but it isn’t long before the proverbial shit hits the fan. It’s after suffering great, and unexpected, losses during this attack that Jak discovers he’s a powerful magic user, and begins to fight back. Following that, he falls under the wing of the leader of the Immortals; a group of battle-mages who are fighting at one end of the Everwar, against the (perhaps) evil Sandrakk, who has the idea of consuming more and more power until he’s the strongest person around. The thing is, Immortals does a good job of presenting things in shades of gray, making you wonder who’s really good and who’s really bad, or whether anyone is actually on the good side of the Everwar.

After proving himself for several years, Jak’s stubbornness helps him become an important part of the Immortals’ arsenal. It’s after that where he truly sets out on his own quest, and becomes wrapped up in the aforementioned shades of gray. This adventure takes him to numerous different parts of the world and has him battling against numerous types of baddies, all with their own abilities, weaknesses and whatnot.

Early on, the player is given quite a few different abilities, which can become somewhat overwhelming in all honesty. It was a lot to get used to and become familiar with, but that happened over time. The nice thing is that Jak’s three different types of magic are all colour coded, as are a lot of the enemies, which makes things easier. There’s blue magic, which is like a pistol or a sniper rifle and shoots single shots, red magic that is basically a shotgun, and homing green magic that acts like an assault rifle of sorts. That’s how the magic translates to first-person shooting, for those who wondered.

There are also three complementary skill trees, which allow you to level up each colour of magic individually, along with their special attacks, which include a shield breaking earthquake, a burning wall of fire, and magical rockets that attempt to home into every nearby target. These skill trees can make your magic types more potent, improve the power of your special abilities and provide other such boosts. You’ll earn points to use towards unlocking nodes by killing enemies, and should get enough to unlock one full skill tree and a bit of another during your play through. I focused on red, and was glad that I did, because it made my ‘shotgun’ very powerful.

Being that it’s magic, and not guns, you don’t necessarily need to worry about reloading as you’d normally do. However, using magic does use up mana, which must occasionally be replenished using mana crystals. You’ll find a lot of these in crates, and when you down enemies, along with health crystals, too. Those are – obviously – used to heal, and Jak can carry three to start. If you visit the different forges littered across the game world, you can upgrade this inventory amount to five, which becomes quite helpful as the game nears its end. By then, you should have enough money to fully upgrade your weapons and your health items, unless you spend a lot on crafting different weapons, armor pieces and rings. Just make sure to search for chests and destroy any boxes you come across.

There were times, though, where I pressed right on the D-Pad and didn’t heal as I should’ve, as there seemed to be a bit of a delay. This led to some unforeseen deaths and a bit of frustration, but nothing major. The biggest issues I had with Immortals of Aveum, actually, ended up having to do with its button mapping, and the fact that you can’t continually dodge out of the way of attacks, which makes things more difficult than need be. I don’t know why they decided to give the dodge button a cool down, but it annoyed me.

Outside of the 'A' button, which lets you jump, double jump and hover, the Right Trigger that helps you shoot, and the left shoulder button’s shield, you’ll find yourself using the 'X' button a lot. It’s mapped to mana crystals, so it’s how you occasionally ‘reload’ once the meter gets low, but is also used for interacting with things like lifts and doors, as well as opening chests. The prompt can be finicky though, making it so that you have to make sure the 'X' prompt pops up instead of just a white circle. If you don’t, and press 'X', you may end up wasting a mana crystal for nothing. I know I did, quite a few times.

Immortals of Aveum also features platforming, involving jumping from platform to platform, using a whip to tether to and access faraway areas, and looking for collectibles. For the most part, it’s solid and fine, but it’s not perfect. However, if you end up falling it’s not a big deal. You’ll only lose a small amount of health.

Platforming can also factor into puzzle solving, with most puzzles involving shooting green, red and blue crystals to open doors, or using split magic to hit two different locations at once. In-game puzzles really aren’t my thing, so that was my least favourite part of this title, as per usual.

Lastly, things can become a bit frustrating at times. Immortals of Aveum likes its chokepoints, at times, and can throw a lot at you at once. The difficulty also spikes near the end, making the last two levels pretty challenging on the normal difficulty.

I’ve heard people say that it took them about twenty hours to beat this game, as well, but don’t think I was in that range, myself. Normally, it takes me an hour or two longer than most because I explore a lot, but I finished this one in three sessions. The first session was five hours, the second one was probably six and the third one was two to three hours long. This included having to restart the final boss battle more than once, and getting frustrated with a blue magus that kept one-shotting me when I almost had him dead.

For the most part, this is a good, fun and interesting first-person shooter where magic takes the place of guns. I had a good time with Immortals of Aveum, and appreciated it being as different as it is, but sometimes found myself mentally comparing it to games like DOOM and Wolfenstein. That’s not to say you face waves of enemies, but it’s the idea of moving around arenas and firing at different types of enemies, some of which require one type of bullet and others of which you can use anything against. The pace can also get pretty frantic, too.

Immortals of Aveum begins like a movie, with a credits scene featuring all of its actors’ names. There’s Gran Turismo’s Darren Barnet, who plays Jak, 9-1-1 Lonestar’s Gina Torres who plays Immortals leader, Kirkan, and Lily Cowles’ Zendara, for starters. The faces are actually the best part of this thing, visually speaking, as they animate very well, look lifelike (especially Gina Torres’) and feature forehead wrinkles that appear when eyebrows are raised. The rest of the character models are also quite well done, as are the enemies, but Immortals of Aveum can look dated at times in other respects. It doesn’t 'pop' as much as some other next-gen games, has some pop-in right now, and features a few dated textures, but it’s not a big deal. It’s generally a nice looking game, regardless of those.

The writing is something you’ll either like or dislike. The characters all have personality, and Jak likes to test everyone’s boundaries, plus make antagonistic or joking comments. I, personally, like the writing and found that it had depth, but the story became a little convoluted at times. Meanwhile, the voice acting which complements it was rather good, with Gina Torres being the best of the bunch.

At the end of the day, Immortals of Aveum is a good game, and a nice first effort from Ascendant Studios. It’s fast, it’s challenging, and it’s decently long. There are some things that keep it from being great, though, and they kept me from loving it overall. I’m glad I played this one, however, and had been looking forward to it ever since I saw its name on a release schedule and Googled it to find out what the hell it was.

**Immortals of Aveum was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series S**

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.6 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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