At a time when original IP is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, Immortals Of Aveum represents a major budgetary risk. Perhaps the last notable example was Forspoken (or perhaps EA's fellow EA player, Wild Hearts), an ill-fated action-adventure , which was plagued by concerns leading up to its release. A similar sense of concern reigned over Immortals, but the talent behind it seemed to give cause for optimism – with Dead Space director and Call of Duty veteran Bret Robbins at the helm.
Immortals of Aveum was originally conceived as a fantasy take on Activision's juggernaut shooter, before adding further inspiration as development progressed. The final product draws on a wide range of inspirations, including 2018's God Of War, Bioshock Infinite, and sonically, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, because Immortals of Aveum takes its cues from some of the most polished games of recent memory, it feels like it's overdone in many ways – and its shortcomings are even more eclipsed.
The game begins with Marvel inspiration on the sleeve. You play as the young wizard Jak, who is reluctantly inducted into an elite order of battle mages called the Immortals after an attack on his hometown during the escalating Everwar – a struggle for control of magic in the land of Aveum. As Jak becomes drawn into the conflict, he soon discovers that both sides are hiding secrets related to the origins of the war and his own role in it.
Jak himself, played by Darren Barnet from the Netflix series Never Have I Ever, is portrayed as a funny, cocky protagonist who gets caught up in a conflict far beyond his post. Imagine Star-Lord, only younger and twice as worthy. A certain level of lameness feels intentional given the other characters' weary reactions, but the script rarely infuse him with anything other than forced, annoying humor as a personality trait. Instead of a versatile underdog to champion, Jak feels like an instrument meant to pierce through the boring lore dumps.
The straight-forward characters fare better, notably Gina Torres as Jak's mentor, General Kirkan, who lends the story some of the seriousness the screenplay lacks. The narration tries to combine the tone of a breezy summer blockbuster with a dense story structure similar to The Lord of the Rings, but it's neither funny nor compelling enough to please both camps.
What binds immortals together is struggle. Your main arsenal consists of three types of magic: blue, green, and red. These essentially act as different weapons: blue magic emulates a powerful pistol, green acts as a machine gun with homing bullets, while red magic is a short-range blast capable of carrying a shotgun equivalent. There is an element of customization for each seal, with different upgradable weapons offering slight variations in stats or firing style. A Javelin Sigil, for example, turns your blue magic into something closer to a long-range rifle.
These are supported by other abilities that you unlock. One of the first is a bulletstorm-style whiplash to pull enemies closer while spawning a green blob limpets can be thrown to slow fast enemies. Furies, on the other hand, are powerful spells tied to a mana meter, ranging from a barrage of homing bullets, to an earthquake wave that pierces shields, to a blast wave that guts nearby enemies. Unlike many other action games, Immortals of Aveum distributes most of these powers within the game's opening hours, giving you an early taste of the full scope of the combat.
This is how you quickly develop a preference for certain magics over others – which you can improve in the surprisingly flexible skill tree. This is split between the three magic types, allowing you to focus on one seal style or ability rather than others, whether that be increasing damage throughout blue magic or specific upgrades to the whip, for example. The game challenges you to use all types of magic, with certain enemies being weak to certain colored spells, but it's forgiving as you can prioritize the secondary skills you find most useful.
While the variety of opponents dries up in the last quarter, Immortals of Aveum as a combat experience is robust, flashy and occasionally exciting. The standout sequence, sadly given away in a recent trailer, is a hasty dash for the control room of a massive humanoid ship while other enemies attack. It's a bombastic spectacle reminiscent of the climax of Call Of Duty. An all-too-rare moment in the 15-hour campaign, where chaotic combat and cinematic ambition only occasionally go together.
“Immortals Of Aveum” finds its footing when limited to willful set pieces. Everywhere in the world there is optional shroud fan Portals hosting custom challenges such as: B. difficult combat runs or the occasional platform game where your skills come into play. These scenarios are often more interesting than the main campaign, offering assault courses with rotating platforms or souped-up bosses on tricky layouts. These encounters, where Immortals focuses primarily on its mechanics, will push the potential of its toolkit to its exciting limits.
Too often, however, Immortals of Aveum desperately strives to become 2018's God Of War. Like the latter, the game is built around semi-open biomes connected via portals, with smaller Metroidvania elements to open up shortcuts and secret areas. The comparisons go even further, including smaller puzzles with colored targets to uncover gold chests, a similar menu design, and an equivalent of the optional Valkyrie boss challenges for post-game enthusiasts.
It's easy to see why they chose the same formula, but the comparison only highlights the game's shortcomings. In its quieter moments, “God Of War” relied on character interactions and excellent writing to carry its momentum – a department in which “Immortals Of Aveum” feels like a relic of Xbox's low-end era 360 feels. The world of Aveum also doesn't entice revisits with the disappointingly boring and generic art design of the various biomes.
As you might expect, Immortals of Aveum on Unreal Engine 5 manages to impress with its fidelity – particularly the delivery of its particle effects. However, it's startling how often it looks so cheap in other areas of presentation. The impact of crucial cutscenes is often undermined by stiff facial animations or bizarrely abrupt directing, in which major emotional moments unceremoniously escalate to unintentionally comic proportions. It heavily impacts whatever goals the story is trying to build and takes the wind out of the narrative from the start.
This is also noticeable in the gameplay. A recurring boss just falls through the ground when killed, which we thought was a bug until it happened in every subsequent encounter. A day-one patch promises to iron out some performance issues, particularly when there's an overwhelming amount of on-screen particle effects, but Immortals is unlikely to feel like a cohesive, polished experience that hasn't been cut corners.
Immortals Of Aveum is an interesting hodgepodge of influences that, on the surface, has all the components needed to create an impressive action game, but rarely coalesces into anything beyond pale imitation. The delightfully chaotic combat may be enough to carry some through the adventure's predictable beats, but in 2023, this derivative gaming blockbuster casts a disjointed, unforgettable spell.
Immortals Of Aveum review summary.
In summary: An ambitious magic-themed shooter that, despite its impressive, flashy combat, caves in under the weight of its influences and sloppy execution.
Advantages: Combat is consistently fun and graphically impressive, with some nice flexes and customization options. Some great action sequences. Gina Torres.
Disadvantages: The world of Aveum is boring, formulaic fantasy flakes. Tries way too hard to be God Of War. The script is often pathetic and many characters falter. Terrible card. Despite the high production values, it often feels oddly cheap.
Formats: PlayStation 5 (tested), Xbox Series X/S and PC
Developer: Ascendant Studios
Release date: August 22, 2023
Age rating: 16
MORE: Immortals Of Aveum preview – a magical take on Call Of Duty
MORE: Interview with Immortals Of Aveum – ‘I think everyone's become more risk averse'
MORE: Immortals Of Aveum preview and interview – the magic of next-gen FPS
To make it easier to submit inbox letters and reader features without having to send an email, just use our Submit Items page here.
For more stories like this, visit our gaming page.
Sign up for all exclusive gaming content and latest releases before they appear on the site.