Even with four months remaining in 2023, there is no doubt that it will go down as one of the greatest slates of video game releases in the history of the medium, with plenty more high-potential titles still on the horizon. As we sit smackdab between the dual RPG nirvanas of Baldur’s Gate 3 and Starfield, first-person magic shooter Immortals of Aveum fills the space by telling a fantasy story worthy of an RPG itself, with a refreshing take on FPS combat to boot. There are a few technical hiccups that Electronic Arts says will be fixed with a day one patch, but even as it stands, EA and new developer Ascendant Studio exceeded my expectations with Immortals of Aveum.
Immortals of Aveum is a cinematic tale that puts you in the shoes of Jak, a low-level criminal from Underbridge (a place with major Arcane vibes) who spends his days picking pockets with his best friend Luna. After Underbridge falls victim to an attack by the game’s antagonist Sandraak and the Rasharnians, Jak discovers he is a triarch – a rare type of magni (mage) that can wield all three forms of magic present in the world of Aveum. He consequently gets recruited into the Immortals, an elite group of battle mages and the protectors of Lucium. The Immortals need Jak’s triarch abilities to defeat Sandraak and end the Everwar – a longstanding war for the control of magic.
Despite really enjoying the story, I must admit that the opening chapter feels a bit discombobulated. It does find its footing soon after, however, and maintains itself at high level throughout. It does a great job of pulling in bits of lore and callbacks to conversations with supporting characters along the way. The story twists and turns across its 20-hour runtime, yet never felt stretched just to have more content. In fact, I haven’t been this interested in a game’s story in a while, to the point that I sincerely wanted to go through all the dialogue options with NPCs to see what bits of lore and worldbuilding they could offer me.
Aveum is built upon thousands of years of history regarding its magic, royal drama, and political intrigue. You’ll get a helping of it organically through the main story, but there is plenty more to discover and enhance your appreciation of the story, should you choose to engage. For instance, I discovered that the Immortals and royal houses of Aveum employ assassins to achieve their political goals. The Immortals also have an oracle named Orphe that can see the past and future, but only at random points in time, making for some interesting conversations. It’s obvious that Ascendant Studio put a lot of love into weaving the tapestry of Aveum, and I enjoyed pulling at its various threads.
Part of what makes the story so compelling is its likeable cast of characters. I know this will be derogatory to some, but the cast reminds me of a group of Marvel characters in a lot of ways. Not Marvel in the annoying, cookie cutter way, but Marvel in the funny, endearing sort of way. I found them to be witty, charming, and performed very well by the voice actors. I know some of the dialogue will not be for everyone, but Immortals of Aveum doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is a quality I appreciated.
When you’re not taking in the story and lore of Aveum, you’ll be blasting baddies to bits, trading traditional weapons and projectiles for sigils and spells. Sigils are gauntlets that are essentially your guns, which allow you to cast (shoot) spells from one of three colors of magic: red, blue, and green. Again, Jak’s status as a triarch lets him utilize all three types of magic at will. Equating it to traditional FPS games, red magic is like your shotgun, green is your assault rifle, and blue is your sniper rifle. You can cycle through sigils and types of magic by pressing Triangle (on PS5), and you can even “reload” your spells by pressing Square. If you’ve played any FPS in the last 15 years, you’ll feel right at home, but Immortals of Aveum also feels like a refreshing take on FPS combat at the same time. If I had to compare it to something, I would say it’s a mix between Destiny and Ghostwire: Tokyo; if you enjoy either game, you’ll probably find a lot to like here as well.
Each enemy is weak against one of the types of magic, as indicated by the color they emit from their bodies, which requires you to swap sigils on the fly, and I do mean on the fly. Immortals’ combat is fast paced, with enemies of multiple varieties attacking from all directions, forcing you to stay mobile while combining spells to wreak havoc on foes. In addition to three types of magic, there are three tiers of spells as well. Basic spells are what happens when you pull the right trigger, but you can also perform more powerful attacks called Fury spells by burning mana. The Shatter spell, for instance, sends a wave of rocks towards enemies to break their shields, opening them up for a volley of basic attacks. As you deal damage, you also charge up your Immolate spell, which is the most powerful spell in your repertoire and combines all three types of magic in a devastating beam o’ death.
Beyond your magic, you have a few magni tools at your disposal as well: the lash, the lens, and the limpet. The lash is a whip that lets you grab enemies and pull them towards you, the lens is a laser beam that disrupts enemy attacks, and the limpet attaches a green goop to enemies to slow them down. Generally speaking, the combat is easy to grasp, but as you can see, there are several moving parts to master.
Eventually you’ll get the hang of it; combining the various spells and tools in your arsenal is quite satisfying. Combat encounters are oftentimes chaotic, and with that chaos does come the occasional cheap death. When magic spells are flying all over the place (yours and the enemies), it can be hard to see what the heck is going on. Sometimes I died because I simply couldn’t see what was going on around me, or because I jumped off the map trying to evade and survive. Along those lines, when combat reaches peak levels of chaos, the audio mix can become a garbled mess, but to be fair, that could be one of the issues fixed in the day one patch. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the combat a great deal and it certainly made me feel like a powerful mage.
As you progress through the story and take down bosses in Aveum, you gain arcanum (experience) which levels you up and earns ascensions (skill points) to upgrade and buy new talents. These are your typical stat buffs and equipment boosts you’re used to, and it allows you to tailor your playstyle as preferred. There are also variants of each type of sigil, which alter each type of magic in a different way. For instance, the blue magic sigil has variants that feature a marksman rifle-style attack with a higher rate of fire and moderate damage, or a javelin attack that has high damage but a low rate of fire. Sigils and your set of tools are some of the types of gear you will acquire while working through the story, but they can also be acquired by exploring the world. Gear can be crafted, upgraded, and deconstructed for parts at forges scattered across the map to keep you feeling like the mighty mage that you are.
In a way I was surprised by Immortals of Aveum; I came into it expecting there to be good combat with a serviceable story. The combat part panned out, although it ended up being better in some respects, but the story ended up being my favorite part of the experience. Over its 20-ish hours it never overstayed its welcome, and quite wonderfully weaved in and out of its various threads while elegantly tying it together in the final act. It’s enhanced by the fact that Aveum is an interesting place to learn about, filled with lore and worldbuilding that had me exhausting dialogue options in conversations with well-voiced NPCs, just to see what they could tell me about the history of this world. Immortals of Aveum wraps it all up with a neat take on FPS combat that is inventive enough to feel refreshing for those looking for something a bit different. From a technical perspective, there does appear to be some Unreal Engine 5 growing pains going on under the hood, but ultimately, I think fans of fantasy RPGs will be surprised by its story, and likewise, fans of traditional first-person shooters will be surprised by its combat.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Hello! I'm Jason, the newest member of Gaming Nexus. My favorite genres of games are strategy, management, city-builders, sports games, RPGs, and shooters, but I don't limit myself to those. My favorite game of all-time is Red Dead Redemption 2 and I have somehow played it for nearly 1,000 hours. I also co-host a weekly PlayStation news podcast called The Dual Sense Podcast, so I stay pretty well versed in that ecosystem. Before that, I co-hosted a basketball podcast.View Profile