Ascendant Studios makes a splash with Immortals of Aveum, their first published game. However, while it is the team’s first title, the head of the company, Bret Robbins, is a veteran at this, having been the creative director behind Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Advanced Warfare, and WWII, and served as director for the original Dead Space. Robbins brings his shooter expertise to Aveum, spinning the narrative by removing weapons and instead implementing a variety of powerful spells in an epic fantasy tale.
I had the chance to sit down and play the game for myself at EA’s Redwood Shores studio. The demo I played took me through a tutorial section, one of the earlier levels, and another story mission further in the campaign. Not only were the game’s visuals gorgeous, but the erratic gameplay was smooth, interwoven with a magic system that felt distinct and interesting and continued to surprise, depending on how I used certain spells. My time with Immortals of Aveum was a great first impression, and I’m eager to try more.
Learning the Basic Spellwork of Immortals of Aveum
The hands-on session I had with Immortals was broken into three distinct sections, all from the start of the campaign. The demo showcased a tutorial mission to practice our magic, the campaign mission immediately after the tutorial, and then a third, a few chapters ahead with a bit more experience. None of them was close to the end of the game, so I did not get a chance to try any of the crazy attacks or dive deep into the customization options, but these opportunities briefly gave me a glance at them, and they felt promising from what I could customize to fit into a playstyle that felt comfortable to me.
The tutorial mission for Immortals of Aveum was a good introduction to the game’s magic system. Traditionally, most of the magic users in the world of Aveum reliably use one of the three types of magic, but the main character, Jak, can wield all three.
These spells serve as your weapons types, providing different effects should they hit a foe or are used in the environment. Red is your frontline, shotgun-like attack. Blue is a long-range marksman rifle spell where every shot counts. Finally, green is a rapid-fire attack, capable of acting like a destructive LMG, perfect for widdling down shields.
One standout impression was how seamlessly I could swap between the three types. They appear as a gauntlet around Jak’s right arm, and switching between them causes the gauntlet’s design to change depending on which of the three I was using. These subtle changes and quick visuals made it easy to tell what magic attack I held in my hand, which was my initial worry. Immortals of Aveum does not slow down time or have you go into a menu to choose which one you want.
Outside of the slight reticle change, there’s no direct icon on the screen showcasing the difference. Instead, it’s a simple button click to swap it out, making it a snappy system, perfect for the fast-paced action game where spells and explosions are happening everywhere. There was a lot of environmental chaos, but never enough to make weapon swapping an issue.
The seamless magic attacks and swapping between them continued to feel solid as I progressed through the campaign. Although the tutorial mission was relatively straightforward, the subsequent two missions were good openers. My time with the second mission felt like I was thrust into a follow-the-objective gameplay, with a handful of puzzles and hidden chests littered throughout the burning city I was trying to protect.
Diverse Boss Battles and Puzzles Are Woven into Immortals of Aveum’s Shooter Formula
When I reached the final mission, the puzzles became more interesting in our demo piece, and that’s when the visuals took another step up. These were optional side activities to do while completing the primary mission, and they typically required precision use of at least two of the spells or a spell and one of the pieces of gear Jak held in his left hand.
One of the more memorable puzzles was opening a chest at the right angle with a long-range spell and then shooting a slow-down totem spell on the chest to prevent it from falling closed, grabbing the item inside it before it locked. These puzzles never felt overly complicated, but I had to search for them and wiggle through every corner to ensure I didn’t miss any. These were supposedly only a taste of what to expect in the later missions, and I’m curious to see how complicated they become.
The boss battles were the same way. There was one at the end of the tutorial and the second mission, and those two boiled down to consistently hitting it. Granted, the boss in the second mission was drastically more difficult, as it moved around erratically and had more complicated movesets. The third boss from the demo’s final mission mixed it up, forcing me to hit specific spots on a massive golem.
This was the boss encounter that proved to me it was a great idea not to use a slow-down wheel for weapon swapping in Immortals, as the overall fight against the golem could have easily felt tiring as I constantly revisited a menu. Instead, everything was fast; I had to carefully time my dodges, use my shield conservatively against the golem’s attack, and sneak in hits to break those critical spots.
Bright Future for Immortals of Aveum
My big takeaway from that fight was a hope to see additional encounters like that deeper in the campaign. It was a more engaging battle during the demo that left a lasting impression that has me looking forward to Immortals of Aveum’s finished campaign. Everything about the demo uplifted my spirits about the game.
The one worry I have for Immortals of Aveum when it launches is performance issues. The game is gorgeous, and that’s gorgeous with a capital G. However, for the development team to conjure that capital G and deliver it to every player, it might be strenuous on consoles or PC hardware trying to push every magical graphic capable within the game. This was the only worry I had walking away from the demo, especially given how players reacted to EA’s most recent launch, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, and the several performance issues during that otherwise excellent launch.
Overall, Immortals of Aveum is gearing up for a bombastic launch this year. It’s a brand new IP and a first from a studio with a veteran leading them forward. It’s not something we commonly see at the triple-A level, but my first impressions are good, and I’m looking forward to sitting down with the finished product on July 20, 2023.
Disclaimer: Gamepur’s parent company is GAMURS Group. A contributor who works with another publication at GAMURS Group is a developer on Immortals of Aveum. This has had no impact on our coverage of the title at Gamepur.