First Person Shooters (FPS) are something of a mixed bag. Recent years have seen the resurgence of the “boomer shooter” – fast-paced, no-holds-barred gameplay where story gets shoved into the backseat in favour of adrenalising content. They have also seen the explorable FPS come to a head, where titles offer repetition and gaudy combat in favour of massive 60-hour space-faring epics. Immortals of Aveum falls somewhere in the middle, where characters receive the Hollywood treatment, yet overall writing remains inextricable and gameplay seems highly promising; only to leave players wanting.
Immortals of Aveum beckons favour. On paper, it ticks every box. The game puts players in the shoes of an Unseen, Jak, a youth who discovers his latent magical ability later on in life. Thanks to his power, he is recognised as a Triarch Magnus, a person with the very rare capability of being able to wield all three colours of magic available in the world. Players are treated to Jak’s inner monologue and hatred for the ever war: a raging and all consuming millennia spanning war, and outright narrative cannon fodder serving as one of the dumbest ideas to ever see the light of day. Jak loses a dear friend to one of the ever war skirmishes early on in the game and quickly learns about the inevitability of war and the chaos it sows, his immediate response? Enlist and become the best of the best… or something.
Immortals of Aveum has a stellar premise with solid ideas and a rich magical backstory to work with… yet blatantly obvious blemishes manage to poke severe holes through any and all polish. To start, Jak is not the most likeable protagonist. While leagues better than whatever Forspoken tried to do, Jak’s dialogue is, for lack of a better descriptor, peak CW. Young and gung-ho, with an underpinned need to learn and, ultimately, save the world, Jak has the potential to sit around the same table as the likes of the Dovahkiin, Grayson Hunt, or perhaps even the hero Outrider. Yet… when push comes to shove, he would much rather pull a face and quip under his breath than take action the way a hero should. There are times when Jak does truly shine, however, and these rare occasions of brilliance only serve to place more weight on how unfortunate his usual portrayal tends to be.
Dialogue inconsistencies aside, acting and animation remain fairly stellar throughout the entirety of the Immortals of Aveum experience (save for the odd mo-cap experience here and there when out of cinematic moments). The game’s biggest blowout on budget must surely have been its insatiably large cast of truly wonderful star talent. Darren Barnet (Gran Turismo (2023), Never Have I Ever (2023), Skull Island (2023)) plays the role of Jak, while Lily Cowles (Roswell, New Mexico (2022), and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (2022)) plays Zendara, Jak’s field commander. Kirkan, on the other hand, is played by the illustrious Gina Tores (Suits (2011), and The Matrix Reloaded (2003)), while Devyn is played by Antonio Aakeel (Slow Horses (2023), Tomb Raider (2018)). Others include Nick Borraine (Modern Warfare (2019), Black Sails (2015)), Steven Brand (Teen Wolf (2014), Hellsing Ultimate (2006)), and even Charles Halford (Injustice 2 (2017), and Constantine (2014))… and the list truly goes on. It goes without saying how the game is not left wanting of acting talent of any kind, and the developers truly went in hard on this fact.
Animation and motion capture may be some of the biggest and most hard-hitting aspect of Immortals of Aveum. While one laughs away at a sombre scene undone by vehemently amateur writing, the actors on-screen are showcasing some very good and true performances. Jak, as numb as his quips may be, truly has some of the most relatable and believable facial expressions whenever something happens on-screen. Unfortunately, mocap unlike any other is simply not enough to consider the copious amounts of… everything else players are subject to during the game’s 25-hour tenure.
Gameplay is as solid as first person shooters can deliver, with not so much as an ‘ooh’ or an ‘aah’ in terms of negativity. Players use the left stick to move, and the right stick to aim. Magic spells can be used by utilising different combinations of the bumper and shoulder buttons, while the face buttons augment combat and gameplay by changing through settings or magic types, and the d-pad is used for utilities like health, limpets (slowing potions), disrupt (shield break) and lashing (think Halo Infinite grapple shot). While absolutely nothing bad can be said about the execution, one cannot help but wonder whether the developers have played it too safe?
Three types of magics (marked by prevailing colours) dominate the battlefield. All magic in Aveum can be distilled into three forms: Blue force magic, Red chaos magic, and Green life magic. Each is used in its own ways and functions differently. Though most Magni are only able to control one colour of magic, Triarchs (like Jak) are able to harness all three. Similarly, players are able to upgrade any one of these colours as much as they like by spending what are essentially skill points earned from killing enemies, exploring new zones, or passing puzzles and challenges. There is even a Dominion spell serving as a bit of an ‘ultimate’ of sorts, combining all the magical colours into one super attack. In Immortals of Aveum, players will command any combination of the RGB spectrum at any given time thanks to cool rings or bracer-like things that “hone and shape” the magic into the projectiles used. Sadly, it does not feel as unique as it is made out to be.
In short, each colour truly feels like nothing more than fantasy skins for modern-day weapons. Green magic, for instance, tends to be fast and minigun-like, while Blue magic can be used to snipe across the battlefield. Red magic acts as one or two-shot wonders with longer reload times… and that is, quite literally it. The player can upgrade more abilities for each colour and also unlock fancy spells throughout the game called Furies, which do bring the Magician Simulation up a notch. However, these moves are limited by charges; which can only be reloaded by using a resource called Mana Stones… and players will hardly ever have a full pack of them when running around in Magus (normal) difficulty. A good solution to this very simple problem is simply to introduce some kind of consumable aspect to the game, similar to how Ghostwire: Tokyo implemented magic and resources. In fact, doing away with the absolute need to use the point-and-shoot combat and replacing it with Furies completely may alleviate Immortals of Aveum’s other combat issue: repetition (since blasting through the same purple worm, horned brute, or mace-wielding hulk for the umpteenth time gets old really fast).
Another issue to point out is how there do seem to be some issues with activating certain button prompts. In this sense, players need to carefully ensure they are at a certain distance to the prompt in the world, otherwise it will not engage correctly. This issue is further compounded given how the option to activate almost anything in the world is the same button as reloading mana (on Xbox it is long pressing X). This often results in unintended reloading (when one thinks the prompt is activated but it is not really). This is a proper problem given the scarcity of mana crystals, especially when one simply wants to activate a prompt, whether it is opening a treasure chest, talking to another character or utilising a switch. It is by no means gamebreaking, but it can be rather frustrating after hours of play.
There is no denying how Immortals of Aveum hearkens back to boomer shooters of old: namely Heretic and Hexen; two truly magical first person shooters some publishing houses simply refuse to bring back. These titles were known for their stellar world building (among other facets), and Immortals of Aveum attempts to take up the mantle. Fortunately, this is done with aplomb! Aveum is a magical world ravished by the ever war, and every single minute within it is a minute well spent. Magical ley lines spread like rivers throughout the landscape and varying factions are in constant battle with each other. Every part of the land players traverse has some story to tell, whether through collectible letters and notes, or actual world building and level design. Sadly, however, it is not all sunshine and roses.
The game has some weird graphical issues it sorely needs sorted on console. Most pressing of all is how the level of detail on objects falls off extremely hard at just a few metres from the player’s point of view. Huge shadows cast against not-so-distant walls are pixelated, and water looks like stiff images. Similarly, textures look soft up close, like the game is enforcing extreme levels of anti-aliasing (but at the wrong distance), or perhaps the wrong lighting simply triggers the wrong uncanny valley effect whenever graphical fidelity requires scrutiny. The game does not even support high-dynamic range (HDR). Worst of all, however, is not in the graphical department at all, but in the audio department. While not quite as glaring as soft textures up close or flaky shadows far away, there is something to be said about a hall filled with people and the noises they exude sound like… an office space? It is literal nonsense noise meant to fill an empty gap. Moreover, sound freezes happen quite often as well. When using Jak’s ultimate Triarch skill, the sound will often bug out and continue playing long after the skill has entered its cooldown period. While not wholly bad, a game with a world like this one absolutely deserves better.
While a day one update is on the way for anyone keen on playing at launch, the technical issues are simply too obvious not to mention. Thankfully, however, loading and restoring from older sessions happen in the blink of an eye on Xbox Series X. Similarly, framerate drops are hardly ever noticed, and Quick Play works like a bomb.
Immortals of Aveum exists in the intricate intersection of contemporary FPS dynamics. Nestled between the resurgence of high-octane “boomer shooters” and the expansive, narrative-driven FPS realm, the game endeavours to harmonise adrenaline-fueled gameplay with storytelling depth. Jak’s journey as an Immortal and Triarch Magnus in a world consumed by perpetual warfare is undoubtedly intriguing, but execution ultimately falters. While his backstory possesses depth, his often-clichéd dialogue detracts from his impact. Thankfully, the stellar cast and animation imbue the world with life, yet occasional shortcomings dampen its immersive potential. Sadly, one cannot even fall back to the gameplay, where mechanics may be solid and magical elements introduce variety, simply because they feel more like reimagined weapons than unique features. While the introduction of Furies adds excitement, they also expose limitations in resource management ultimately resulting in repetitive combat. In the realm of FPS gaming, Immortals of Aveum aspires to weave a complex narrative within dynamic action, reflecting the inherent challenge of this genre fusion. Armed with strong ideas, a captivating world, and commendable performances, Immortals of Aveum falls short due to too many flaws. There is so much potential on offer, but it ultimately falls short; turning a good game into an average experience.
|Excellent level design||Poor technical issues|
|Grade-A talent||Writing leaves a lot to be desired|
|Fascinating premise||Highly repetitive|
Title reviewed on Xbox Series X with code supplied by Electronic Arts.
Junior Editor at Vamers. From Superman to Ironman; Bill Rizer to Sam Fisher and everything in-between, Edward loves it all. He is a Bachelor of Arts student and English Major specialising in Language and Literature. He is an avid writer and casual social networker with a flare for all things tech related.