First-person shooters are some of my favourite games; it’s always been that way, and for a good reason, the potential is there, and the sky is the limit on what you can do. From Halo to BioShock to Far Cry and Borderlands, I’ve had some of the best experiences in first-person. So, when Ascendant Studios revealed Immortals of Aveum earlier this year, I thought we had never seen a game solely focused on using magic.
To sit in the pitch meeting for Immortals of Aveum would have been a treat. It’s a fantasy version of Call of Duty with many mechanics to match. The real shame is it took this long for anyone to ship a game of the calibre despite the closest game being something like Bulletstorm.
Immortals of Aveum’s world and lore are fleshed out and interesting.
Before a fateful encounter, Jak and his merry band of orphans are living in the slums of a fantasy city, one that reminds me of the Sector 7 slums nestled in the bottom of Midgar like a spur. Jak and his friends are content living their lives by thieving and doing whatever they want. However, it isn’t long after a city siege that things are flipped upside down for Jak.
Your character, Jak, enlists in the Lights Army of Lucium, currently at arms with the Dark Army of Lucium in the Everwar. One night, after the city of Seren is attacked and you learn Jak is a Triarch, a mage with the ability to wield all types of magic, General Kirkan finds our hero and helps him harness his untapped potential.
I want to get this out of the way because I’m sure others will agree with me and say that while Jak’s powers are extraordinary, Jak is not. He’s brash and cocky, and generic. He doesn’t fit in at all, and when an actress like Gina Torres shares the screen, it’s even more apparent that his character is a misfire. What disappointed me is hiring someone like Torres and then relegating her to a supporting role when she has leading character energy.
However, I don’t consider Jak the star of Immortals of Aveum, but rather the incredible and sleek first-person magic mayhem. I find hints of some of the best shooters out there in the DNA of this game, from Doom to Wolfenstein. The world of Aveum is also surprisingly impressive from its earliest moments and well into the finale. Landscapes are filled with details and vistas that feel otherworldly, and you have great lighting to bring it all together.
I Am Jak’s Complete Arsenal
Instead of guns to find and equip, Jak uses several bracers, each one tuned to a different school of magic — Force (blue magic), Chaos (red magic), and Life (green magic). Blue magic is your standard magic and all-rounder, while red magic is a powerful blast of magic, and green magic has a high rate of fire. In addition, you have access to a melee attack and unlock Mana spells that use a special metre. Shatter attacks are Heavy spells that destroy an enemy’s shield and are used in tandem with your Lash, a tool used to pull enemies toward you. Just like in Call of Duty, you’ll need to be mindful of your bullets (in this case, spell charges).
Enemies are split into three different spell types, so you’ll often face a group of each one as they rush at Jak. Shielded enemies are one of the most bothersome encounters, but thankfully a good Mana spell obliterating their shield can quickly turn the tide. You can easily make a group of enemy combatant fodder paired with one of the Fury spells like Blastwave or Bash.
In later stages, though, enemies feel a little too overpowered, and it feels overbearing to deal with these enemies. Bosses hit hard and fast and sometimes leave you reeling from a powerful counterattack, so it’s often best to be aware of your surroundings and learn to maneuver and keep your distance from them. You’re equipped with Health and Mana stones, which are found frequently around levels, so the experience balances out.
Alongside your powers, Jak can equip different bracers, rings, and totems, each with varying attributes that boost spells’ potency. There are also three talent trees focusing on the three coloured spell trees. You need Ascension points given out to grow your character as you battle enemies or hidden away in a chest. You can unlock crafting, but I never found it worthwhile, and it doesn’t add enough to the experience to use it. Sure, you can upgrade Sigils and your equipment, but the differences in damage never felt worth the investment in resources.
As I’ve mentioned, a lot of the worldbuilding and lore is interesting and lends itself to creating a realized world. However, a midgame twist effectively cauterizes the magic and goodwill the story had built up until that point. I don’t want to mention what explicitly I’m referring to, but you’ll know once you learn about the purpose of magic. And as you head to the tail end of the campaign, you never really get a satisfying answer as to why Aveum is in the state it is in.
Immortals of Aveum is a great first outing for Ascendant Studios, combining first-person, magic, and fantasy. The fast-paced combat is a ton of fun to play around with and master, and it looks incredible when spells are flying around the arena. However, the protagonist falls flat and sticks out in an otherwise wonderfully realized world filled with interesting tidbits and lore worth discovering. This year, an original idea is welcome in a sea of sequels and remakes.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]