Immortals of Aveum (PS5) Game Review – This spell-based shooter is less than magical

This spell-based shooter is less than magical

Immortals of Aveum is not a bad game. However, it’s not as exciting or as magical as I hoped it would be with its fantasy setting and FPS gameplay that incorporates spells instead of guns.

With a thin story, recurring enemy types, and point-A-to-point B traversal mechanics in locations that aren’t always fun to explore, the game can become quite dull. That’s something I didn’t expect I would be saying in a review of a game about wizards and magic kingdoms, so you can imagine my disappointment when I began to play through the game’s story. 

In this debut game from Ascendant Studios, you take on the role of Jak, an orphaned street urchin who lives in a world where magic is commonplace. He makes his living as a thief, alongside his friend Luna, but rather than using magic to steal items from the local citizens, he uses basic pickpocketing abilities instead.

The reason why he doesn’t use magic is because he hasn’t yet come to terms with his magical abilities. This makes sense for the story but it makes sense for gameplay too, as it allows you, the player, to level up and become stronger as you progress through Jak’s journey. It also means you aren’t given a ton of powers to get to grips with at the beginning of the game (and all the button presses that come with them) so you are eased into magic use over the first couple of chapters. 

Thanks to the voice acting and cutscene character animations, it’s easy to become attached to Jak who seems to be a likeable and charming person, despite his habit of stealing. Of course, he doesn’t steal because he’s mean or greedy. He robs others because he lives in poverty with Luna and his other friends in a hideout within the city. Their life is difficult but it gets much harder when the city is attacked by an outside force from another realm. Chaos ensues, resulting in death, destruction and personal losses for Jak, and before he too is killed, he is saved by the leader of the Immortals, a sort of special ops team that is made up of powerful magic users.

After Jak’s rescue, we fast forward to the future where he is now a fully-fledged soldier and preparing for his moment to shine in the Everwar, an endless conflict between two warring nations. Jak’s relationship to his superiors is skewed, to say the least – he has been blessed with a sly wit and a penchant for backchat – although you can make him more subservient if you wish by choosing the correct dialogue options. 

The opening chapter does a pretty good job of introducing Jak, the world he lives in, and some of the surrounding characters, but the longer the game goes on, the less interesting it becomes. The main reason for this is the over-familiar gameplay. After stepping into the world, you travel from one location to the next and battle waves and waves of enemies that seek to stop you in your tracks.

The fact that the game’s baddies mostly materialize into the world when you cross over a certain checkpoint instead of simply existing in the places you visit is a bit disappointing as you know exactly what to expect from the game. You walk forward, wait until the enemies spawn to your location, and then take them out using your various spells. After disposing of them, you walk forward some more, wait until more enemies spawn and then take them out too. Ad infinitum! 

In this regard, the game plays out like a magic-based version of Doom. If you enjoyed ID’s famous shooter, this might not be a massive issue for you. But if you expected a game with a different style of gameplay, you’re going to be disappointed. This was the biggest issue I had with Immortals of Aveum, but it might be that I had the wrong idea about the game before starting. I expected a quest-based adventure/shooter title, with a deep lore and innovative gameplay mechanics. Instead, I found myself playing a combat-heavy game that is little different to others in the genre, other than the fact that it incorporates projectile magic instead of traditional weaponry. 

If the spells were more interesting to use, the heavy dose of familiarity wouldn’t have been a problem. Unfortunately, the spells you do have at your disposal are essentially the same as the guns you have used in other first-person shooters. The red spell is used to battle enemies close up and effectively acts like a shotgun. The blue spell is for taking out enemies at a long distance and is this game’s version of a sniper rifle. And the quick-firing green spell that shoots magical pellets (for want of better words) has the same function as a machine gun. You even have to reload your spells in the same way you would a gun, only with mana instead of bullet-based ammunition. 

You can swap between these spells at will to use them when they are best suited to the combat situation or to your own personal preference. You can also deploy a blue shield that will protect you from enemy attacks for a limited time. Battle scenes are fast and furious but the repetitive combat does become wearying after a while. 

Most of the enemies you fight are armoured knights (battlemages) but the game does throw other enemy types at you to break up the tedium. These include fantasy beasts like charging bull-like monsters and giant eels, each of which have their own weaknesses for you to spot when trying to get the better of them. There are also boss fights at regular intervals to ramp up the game’s moderate difficulty level. 

The combat is fun at first but after the umpteenth encounter where you’re pretty much going through the motions, it does get rather ‘samey.’ New spells are introduced over time to make things more interesting but they don’t have the wow factor you might expect from a game with a strong focus on magic. 

Graphically, the game is okay but it’s never dazzling. The environments, which include ancient forests and abandoned towns, are sometimes pretty to look at but there are far better-looking games on the PS5. The slight downgrade in graphics means the frame rate is mostly smooth throughout, which is ideal for a game that incorporates a lot of fast combat. But I would have preferred the game to have more visual panache, with an option for added ray tracing which is noticeable by its absence. 

As you unlock new spells and abilities, you are encouraged to revisit past locations to open up new paths where loot awaits, but it’s not a necessity if you would rather move on with the story and hurry the game through to its climax. And hurry through the game you might if you get bored of the gameplay. While there is some variety added to the combat and traversal, with the latter including the ability to zip around the sky on Leylines, the bulk of the game is hardly what you’d call original.

Still, as a debut game from a new developer, this isn’t a bad effort at all. It probably won’t impress you to any great degree but with its interesting setting and fast-paced combat, you might gain some enjoyment from it. It’s the kind of game that fails expectations but still shows the developer’s potential.

As such, you might reasonably expect the next game from Ascendant Studios to be more epic in scale, with more innovative gameplay mechanics and a greater degree of graphical polish. These are our expectations anyway so here’s hoping they are given the budget to create something more magical than their (slightly) disappointing first title.

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  • Verdict - 6.5/10

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