As gamers, we’re always asking for change and then complain when it’s different. First-person shooters are a dime a dozen now, covering wars, space wars, prehistoric eras and fictional tropical settings. But one untapped area, especially from a publisher like EA, is the projectile magic shooter. Enter, then, Immortals of Aveum.
A hero’s journey in the most basic of narratives, Immortals follows a street-rat-turned-soldier on a warring planet full of magics, spectacle and dragons. Think of a cross between Call of Duty and Skyrim, if you will.
But formulaic doesn’t always mean bad, and a little change never hurt anyone. So, in that regard, does Immortals add a little variation to by-the-numbers shooters, or should it be beheaded? Let’s point some magic fingers and find out.
Our story begins… well, as most hero’s journey stories do. Jak and his friend Luna are scraping by in the under-classed city of Seren. Suspended over The Wound, a great calamity affecting the world, Seren is your typical slum-type locale. At the heart of it; Jak, Luna and their little ragtag family. Seems quaint enough, but we all know the formula by now.
The warring Rasharnian nation attack, Luna doesn’t get to live out her fantasy of fighting in the Everwar, the small people they were looking after (who’s names elude me) get caught in the crossfire. Jak then, understandably, goes all Asura’s Wrath and summons all kinds of magic to lay waste to everything. Then passes out.
After awakening, we learn that Jak is a Triarch. No, he didn’t make Star Ocean, but instead can use all three flavours of the Cornetto trilogy colour scheme of magic (red, blue and green, if you’re not British enough). Picked from obscurity and then put through the paces to become one of the titular Immortals, Jak… does just that. Quite literally, in the first two hours of play.
We skip forward five years, the Luciens (the apparent good guys) are still fighting the Everwar. Rasharnian forces still keep invading, Sandrakk and his Hand are up to no good… it’s all high fantasy 101. The character models look good on the villainous side, but their army is just any by the numbers clone/robot/insect drone of choice from a summer blockbuster.
Honestly, I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm with this plot. It’s very by the numbers. You could tell me that the villain Shadrakk was Luna all along come the end, it would be a damp squib by that point. Why is it so bland? Well, I blame the writing.
Oh, We’re Doing Marvel Dialogue, Are We?
There’s a certain turning point in movies, specifically action, where it switched from campy one-liners to clapbacks. From searing insults to sarcasm, and personally, I blame Joss Whedon. The first wave of Marvel films was funny, with its use of quips. By Endgame, it got tiresome.
Why is that relevant here? Well, it’s all the damn time. Every time Gina Torres’ Kirkan says something, Jak has to, without fail, make some snarky retort. Two characters are discussing the importance of the Immortals trial, and Jak interjects with, “I’m stood right here, y’know”. I wish you weren’t, as it would help things along and stop my eyes endlessly rolling around the inside of my head.
It honestly plays like badly written teen fantasy, with dialogue and script from a room full of older people thinking of what kids watching Nickelodeon want to hear.
Does it sound like unfair exaggeration? Yes, and maybe I am just a grumpy, cynical critic. The next question, if you can tolerate the script, is how does one play an FPS with visual effects instead of guns?
Point and Flick
Snark aside, I quite like the “gunplay” in Immortals of Aveum. Maybe it’s because Jak uses his hands like finger guns and it validates the name of our site, but it’s entertaining watching the gestures. Kitted out with a magical bracer-type device, Jak’s armed with a variety of colourful weaponry.
If one were to compare them to guns, the standard blue is the handgun, red is the shotgun, with green being the machine gun/assault rifle type. They’ve all got funky names, like Scatterblast, Blastbeam and Spiritfarer (alright, the last one’s another game, but you get the point). All are variations on modern contemporaries, but with a twist.
New “types” can be bought and crafted, which we’ll get to, but it usually revolves around these three types. And as most shooters will teach players, it’s helpful to cycle between the three for any given situation. Blue is fairly accurate, red is for close-quarters damage, whilst green is good for picking off hordes while keeping on the move.
Jak’s left hand pulls dual duty as shield-flinger, as well as ancillary device. At first, it’s a Bulletstorm-style leash that yoinks enemies forward, but then time-slowing limpets can soon be swapped in/out on the fly. It is, in its simplest form, a variation on modern shooters. In bare comparison, it’s Call of Duty with a mythical dressing, but it is functional. I can’t fault it on that part, at least.
Maybe It’s Aveum
I will rise above the rolling tide of snark to actually say something nice about Immortals of Aveum: it does actually look pretty. Not so much in the copy/paste biomes that you finger-blast your way through, but in the general presentation and flair. For one, look at the character model above. Even though I couldn’t initially remember the actress’s name, I did go, “Ooh, it’s thingy from Firefly!” right away.
The combat, formulaic as it is, also looks astoundingly pretty. Watching colourful streams of magic fly across the screen as Jak hops, ducks and dives about is quite endearing. The level design has that bright Kingdoms of Amalur vibe to it, as players explore ruins and the occasional green field or two.
It’s got sweeping, budget John Williams score vibes too, in amongst all the shouting and magic-slinging. If this were your first foray in fantasy shooters, it would be an assault on the senses. And yes, curmudgeonly as I am, I do enjoy the occasional spectacle that Immortals offers.
It’s just… it doesn’t do much else to keep me enthralled.
One Ring To Blind Us
Given that’s there no change in on screen weapon, Ascendant Studios instead focused on Jak’s flamboyant wristwear. This is done through a variety of bracers, attachments and rings. And that is done through crafting.
Yes, Immortals of Aveum has a very basic forage-and-craft system. Coins and coloured essence are your currencies, used to forge and upgrade new weapons. They’re all variations on a theme, with incremental number changes: more damage at the cost of smaller “clips”, if you will.
Rings add buffs, like more damage overall, or specific colour/weapon damage. There’s also more passive buffs like armour upgrades, or better shield strength. Finally, there’s ancillary buffs to the lash and limpet: longer reach or bigger time-slowing duration, respectively.
It’s all very… token, I suppose. I’m not shitting on the system, it just brings nothing new to the table. The overuse of basic crafting systems is being shoehorned into everything now, it’s hardly surprising it’s in the magical FPS.
These Are Spirit Fingers
And of course, what do we normally see alongside crafting systems in games of this ilk? That’s right, upgrade and skill trees. As long as you don’t come in expecting something like Final Fantasy XII’s Zodiac/job system malarkey, you should be alright.
It’s simple enough, but then, sometimes it doesn’t need to be overly difficult. There’s a branch for each type of magic, with points unlocking more skills as they’re invested. They’ll be some specific to that colour in there, and some that act as overall buffs, with better critical hit chances and such.
There’s no trick to acquiring skill points, or Ascensions in this instance. Shoot the baddies, baddies grant experience points, skill points bar goes up. But then, sometimes again it’s not a bad thing. It’s just as standard as any other roleplaying game. There’s no real difference in playstyle choices: you can go balanced, or you can put more points into a particular weapon you like.
It’s… A Kind Of Magic
In terms of world-building and scope, there isn’t much to do outside of following the storyline. In one regard, Immortals reminds me of Anthem: pretty skyboxes, very little to do in them. Also because, at time of writing, Immortals has tanked faster than an M1 Abrams dropped from a plane.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s some pretty looking walks to be had here. There’s even some colour-matching puzzles to unlock trinkets and resources to tackle too, if one feels like. Every area has a glossary page attached to it, building the world of Aveum and its characters as we further Jak’s story.
In that regard, I can’t fault it for trying. Too many run-and-gun games either don’t bother, or just assume the player knows the score. So, to flesh out the world and give details is nice, even if it does feel like an empty gesture. I say that, because it feels like they’re setting up for more, but I can’t see this making mad returns.
Unfortunately, as much as I had some enjoyment with it, Immortals of Aveum isn’t going to get a glowing recommendation from me. It’s fun, in places, in certain arena-like cluster-chucks of magic and battle. When you embrace the jumping, floating, flinging and explosions, it can be a little reminder of why we like FPS’ at times.
But outside of the linear plot progression and minimal sidequesting, there really isn’t much else to do. Players can find and grind out incrementally better gear, but as long as you keep up after each battle, you’ll be on par with most of the enemies.
The game tries to get us involved in its story, with a few meta-comparisons to environmental issues and “humans kill planet, humans bad”. There’s even an early reveal that’s meant to shock, but it’s all so obvious from the start. Even Gina Torres sounds bored explaining it to the petulant Jak.
Overall, I can recommend this in the same vein as one recommends The Order 1886: good for a cheap punt, or if it’s on a service like Game Pass or PS Plus, but not full price. It’s a spectacle shooter with an annoying protagonist, and we don’t need any more of them.
Whilst it is nice to at least try something different, Immortals of Aveum falls back on way too many cliches to make it stick. Terrible dialogue, formulaic shooting and linear progression are too overbearing in an otherwise colourful shooter.
Immortals of Aveum is available now on PlayStation 5 (review platform), Xbox Series S|X and PC via Steam.
Developer: Ascendant Studios
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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