Immortals of Aveum mixes fantasy and a military shooter with surprisingly engaging results.

Immortals of Aveum mixes fantasy and a military shooter with surprisingly engaging results. (Electronic Arts/TNS)

Some of the best fantasy and sci-fi are created when genres mix. Star Wars is heavy on swashbuckling sci-fi, but it melds that with fantasy elements through Force-using space wizards. Warhammer 40,000 presents a darker and grittier take on the distant future, but it’s one that also includes star-traveling elves and orcs.

The fledgling Ascendant Studios has its own take on the fantasy genre. It’s mixing swords and sorcery with a military shooter in Immortals of Aveum. Players will be trading guns for the ability to shoot magic from their fingertips, but don’t mistake this for fantasy Call of Duty, the title does more with its themes and settings than just replacing bullets for mana.

The story of Jak

In Immortals of Aveum, players take on the role of Jak, a street urchin who manifests his abilities late in life as an Unforeseen. Not only is he a later bloomer, but he has the rare ability to wield all three forms of magic. He’s recruited off the streets of Seren by General Kirkan to fight in a war between Aveum’s two biggest powers: the autocratic Theocracy of Rasharn and the Kingdom of Lucium.

He accepts Kirkan’s offer to join the Lucium forces with the goal of being an Immortal aka Lucium’s version of the U.S. Navy Seals. Lucium needs all the help it can get as it faces a series of setbacks against Rasharn’s military leader Sandrakk. The warlord has been making progress in seizing the leylines that are source of the the world’s magic.

It’s a decent fantasy setup that ends up jarring initially as the mixture of modern war images and world of high fantasy collide. The campaign goes from a wide-eyed Jak’s recruitment, and five years later, it sees him as a hardened soldier, smoking a cigarette as their positions are bombarded by dragon-like Howlers and magical projectiles. It’s a strange juxtaposition, but when players pick the controller and play, that strangeness melts all away. Everything becomes instinctive and familiar.

Players have a dodge and a triple jump, which they’ll need against some enemies. Maneuverability is key in the game.

Players have a dodge and a triple jump, which they’ll need against some enemies. Maneuverability is key in the game. (Electronic Arts/TNS)

Tight controls and intuitive gameplay

That’s the best part about Immortals. The game taps into that shooter mentality with tight controls and intuitive combat. Players will have no problem with switching between the three types of magic: Force (blue), Chaos (red) and Life (green). They each act as different firearms.

Force is a powerful single shot with a slow firing rate almost like a sniper rifle, but a little faster. Chaos is a close-ranged attack comparable to a shotgun while Life magic is rapid fire but doesn’t do as much damage. Players will need to constantly switch between each magic type in battle.

On top of that, players have heavy spells such as Shatter, which destroys enemy shields, but the use is limited. They also have a Control spell called Lash that’s tied to one of shoulder button. Jak tosses a whiplike tendrils and drags faraway enemies closer. Lastly, players have Gear called Sigils and Totems that act almost like gadgets that can debuff enemies by slowing them down or causing other effects.

With more than 25 spells and 80 talents to unlock and upgrade, players can craft a hero for certain combos and playstyles. The Immortals combat reminds me a lot of Bulletstorm, but Ascendant Studios explores the potential gameplay opportunities more fully.

Puzzle-solving and exploration

The single-player narrative-driven campaign isn’t just about blasting whatever is in front of you. Immortals also has slight puzzle elements and exploration. The puzzle elements are tied to multicolored switches that players have to hit with the right magic. That unlocks doors and paths that lead players to chests with equipment that delivers stat boosts and other benefits.

Other parts of the game will require players to look for glyphs that allow Jak to manipulate objects such as statues. They can twist figures so that the protagonist can use a statue’s hand to double jump across a chasm. It seems as though Immortals will reward players who go the extra mile to venture off the beaten path and uncover chests or bits of lore. They can even get points for their talents. The campaign features a skill tree and that helps players empower a particular gameplay style they enjoy.

Although at first glance, Immortals seems like an odd melding of fantasy and military shooter. When players get their hands on the game, the intuitive combat systems and tight controls work wonderfully. It has a way of deepening the immersion so that the world of Aveum seems more natural and believable. From what I played in the short time I had with the game, it looks promising and should be on your radar this summer.

Immortals of Aveum is scheduled for release July 20 on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series X and PC.


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