Every once in a while a game comes along which feels like it was made with me in mind. For a no holds barred bloodbath simulator there was Prototype, for bombastic action hero splendour we got Just Cause 3, and now for over the top magic finger guns and wisecracks we have Immortals of Aveum.
This game scratched the itch Ghostwire Tokyo tickled the back of my gaming psyche with last year, but manages to pull off the gameplay in a much better manner by pacing its distribution of powers. You could be forgiven for believing Immortals of Aveum was showering you with every ability in the game in the first couple of hours as there are so many. Fear not, the later hours continue to retain your attention by making this a shower long enough for the water board to reach out and ask if you’re OK.
Playing as Jak, your typical street urchin turned chosen one in the face of adversity, Jak discovers that he is an ‘Immortal’, an Immortal of Aveum to be specific! Accelerated through the magic army ranks in the span of a brief ‘five years later’ cut to black, in less than an hour of gameplay Jak is elevated from roof running impoverished coward to mighty god king magic emperor of all of space and time…or something.
To be honest, my mind checked out on the lore of Immortals of Aveum very quickly as the world building is heavy. I followed the story to the best of my ability, but with all the exposition dumps and back story, world history, modern politics, friendships, workplace banter / harassment, coffee orders and military tactic maneuvers, I would often find myself subconsciously glazed over until gameplay resumed. On one occasion I snapped back to paying attention when Jak reacted with disgust and incredulity to something I hadn’t been listening to, which was fortunately resolved when I reloaded the save and the cutscene began again.
When Immortals of Aveum stops attempting to rival Disco Elysium for wordiness and returns to being an explosive magic finger gun fiesta, it works. It really, really works! Switching on the fly between blue magic (pistol), red magic (shotgun) and green magic (submachine gun), as well as combining these with a shield, a time slowing grenade and a Bulletstorm-esque tether, no two encounters feel quite the same. Throw in some super-powered abilities as well as your expected L3 + R3 ultra super move, Immortals of Aveum has definitely been created by a team of decade seasoned gamers who know what they and their audience want. This is demonstrated especially well with its skill tree, as almost every upgrade feels like it is worth unlocking, while also not giving the impression you should have had some of the abilities in the first place.
Among my favourite regular animations are the reloads for each of the three base magic attacks, as the bright popping visuals made possible with the PlayStation 5 allow the colours to erupt from the TV in a consistently visually pleasing way.
The boss fights do let the side down a little unfortunately, with one midgame boss devolving into little more than an aggressive colour matching minigame. I also don’t think any of the red magic integrates as well into gameplay as its blue and green counterparts. I get that a long distance shotgun isn’t a thing, but as green and blue magic work just as well at long distances as in closer quarters, I would only reach for red whenever I found myself getting jump-attacked by an enemy I didn’t spot in time.
This problem can be exacerbated somewhat by the fact enemies group spawn into each arena and start flitting and teleporting around from the word go. It sometimes feels like you’re playing a shooter while the enemies are playing a rhythm game in the way they stop, shoot and teleport regardless of anything going on around them. It adds to the spectacle but makes the back half of battles feel a little drawn out when the last couple of targets are focussing more on where they’re going next instead of on where I am. On one occasion I ended an encounter when the last enemy suddenly materialised directly in front of me, allowing me to end the fight with a seldom used slap to the side of their head.
Back on the subject of positives with the game, the world of Aveum looks outstanding provided you don’t stop and scrutinise it for too long. A game like this isn’t made for you to sit quietly among the rosebushes, but thanks to its excellent magic and gear upgrade design you will find yourself meandering away from the current mission objective marker as often as possible in search of resources. This will see you reap rewards much earlier in the game by shooting open crates and opening chests found generously scattered through levels, but all this extra time in the wilderness gradually numbed me to the skin deep beauty of the world and laid bare how off-putting some of the textures can be when not sprinting by them as fast as Jak’s magically enhanced feet can carry him.
I have seen some criticism of the dialogue since the game released, and while I’ll grant you it’s far from raising the bar on clever storytelling, everything it does works really well with the overall aesthetic. I mentioned earlier that the lore dump cutscenes tend to go on a bit, but after a couple of hours when they all become rooted in the present of what is happening in the game, there’s a certain charm to them that keep me entertained. That is until a history lesson tries to creep in and my mind shuts down until the pretty colours resume.
Immortals of Aveum is the first release by newly formed Ascendant Studios, and with this game under their belt I couldn’t be more excited to see what they come up with next. Lessons must be learned from this game; most importantly keeping world building to the point and allowing your base weaponry to have a little more variety in moment to moment gameplay. This is a fun game where anyone who finds themselves with even the slightest inclination towards playing it should do so, as it’s exactly as fun as it looks. The potential of Unreal Engine 5 is on full display here, and combined with the power of the PlayStation 5, I think we’re in for many great years in gaming to come! I score Immortals of Aveum
8 / 10
Game code provided by publisher.
Written, edited and images sourced by Alexx.