Immortals of Aveum review: The magic hour

Immortals of Aveum is a strong debut effort for Ascendant Studios, but even the best magic can have some hefty flaws.

Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts and Ascendant Studios had a lofty goal in mind with Immortals of Aveum. They wanted to put together a Call of Duty-style campaign, but without military firearms or other sorts of modern warfare. The idea was to build the story and its world around different kinds of magic. The result is a fascinating world with intriguing lore and some irritating characters.

Believing in magic

Fighting the Exalted Leylodon boss in Immortals of Aveum.

Source: Electronic Arts

Immortals of Aveum tells the story of a faraway world plunged deep into an endless conflict for control of the world's magic. The Order of the Immortals is on one side, fighting for their remaining kingdoms against a despotic warlord named Sandrakk. Players take control of an orphan named Jak, who's fresh off watching his village of Seren fall to Sandrakk's forces. He's taken in by the Immortals as an Unforeseen, a rare breed of mage who manifests magic proficiency later in life and is able to wield all three of the world's magic types.

In following the Call of Duty formula, Immortals of Aveum's campaign is a linear series of objectives that takes players across different corners of Aveum. The landscapes are beautifully rendered with Unreal Engine 5.1, though beyond the magic leylines that give the world an extra ounce of personality, they feel mundane and ordinary. It's a different world ruled by a totally alien system of magic, yet players will often find themselves exploring the usual medieval-style fantasy settings: the green field, the snowy tundras, the magma-covered underground, etc. Ascendant Studios has a chance to build something totally new and interesting, but instead opts for visuals that are almost interchangeable with other fantasy titles.

Characters are a frustrating mixed bag of nuts and it's the rock-hard, tooth-breaking ones that left the worst taste in my mouth. Aveum's story grows into something captivating, especially as players begin to see some shades of gray. Are the good guys really as good as they think they are? Might the evil wizard actually have a point? Is there an element of this war that its leaders don't see because they're too stubborn in their ways? These are some good questions and aside from a few particularly aggravating moments, the story works to make players think. I had a few moments where I groaned out loud, specifically with a clichéd reveal that I was able to see coming from hours away and a few insufferable supporting characters. (Don't get me started on Kenzie, gaming's newest voice for "both sides-ism.")

Unfortunately, most of that is undone by the dialogue. I've made no secret of my disdain for a certain other fantasy-based 2023 adventure, and a lot of that antipathy came from that game's dialogue. Immortals of Aveum's dialogue also caught a severe case of Whedon-itis, and it's brutal to witness. Nearly every single character spouts out quips, jokes, and sitcom-style banter, and it becomes maddening after the first few hours. It's so relentless that it makes the average MCU joint feel like a night at a funeral by comparison. By the halfway point, I was begging these characters to go a single scene without mile-a-minute quips. It detracts from some serious moments and ultimately bogs down what could have been some great character work. Never Have I Ever's Darren Barnet turns in a strong performance as Jak, for example, but he would have been amazing if he had come in at a 6 on the 10-point quip scale instead of a 22.

The shiny colors

Fighting The Morbane in Immortals of Aveum.

Source: Electronic Arts

Immortals of Aveum's approach to combat is both familiar and also refreshingly deep. Players will grow to control the world's three different types of magic, which are helpfully color coded. The key to prevailing is not only mastering the direct offensive uses for these magic varieties but also the other abilities that they grant. Blue force magic, for example, can be used as a blunt projectile and also gives players a strong defensive shield, while green life magic can home in on foes and reanimate certain objects to help with field puzzles.

Each magic type has a utility of uses that can help on the battlefield or with traversal and exploration. The blue Lash ability could be used to reel in distant foes and also to whip Jak towards far-away hooks and grant him access to new areas. Even with linear layouts, using Jak's different abilities to discover hidden goodies and undiscovered forks in the road was a lot of fun. It also made traversal, as a whole, a lot more entertaining, as Jak was eventually able to whip his way around distant areas and later ride magic leylines through the skies.

My main criticism is with the game's Gear system. Players can equip different Sigils to switch between different firing types, as well as rings, totems, and bracers, at which point players are wrestling around trying to figure out different builds. The Sigils are meant to offer different ways to attack with each of the three magics, but isn't having three different magics enough? I already felt like I went in deep enough with "Blue, Red, and Green" without having to go into "Blue 1, Blue 2, or Blue 3." It'd be one thing if this were for a lengthy MMORPG or a live service title, but the Immortals of Aveum story can be wrapped up in 15-20 hours. There's no need to go this needlessly complex.

I almost had a similar complaint for the Talent tree, but I did like that I was able to experiment with different builds based on the three magic types. At one point, I was able to construct a build that allowed me to generate health and deal damage with each Shield shatter while also reducing the Shield cooldown with melee blows. Other Talents feed different play styles, and I thought that was neat, especially since it was possible to reset the Talent tree and start over at any time.

Seeking immortality

Ascendant Studios has been working on Immortals of Aveum for many years, and this debut effort feels solid, albeit flawed. There's a rich world to explore with expansive lore and enough mysteries to build on for the future. The twists in the narrative were enough to wash away its worst elements... mostly. (When Immortals of Aveum wants to dance in clichés, it can certainly do the Floss.) I even came to enjoy some of the game's characters after they were able to stop quipping for two seconds.

Aside from a world and lore ripe for exploration, Immortals of Aveum's strength is in its combat design and its usage of Unreal Engine 5.1. Characters look beautifully detailed while the world's various environments look gorgeously designed, enough to momentarily make players forget that they've already seen these landscapes before in other fantasy adventures.

As far as first tries go, there's plenty to admire with Ascendant Studios' debut effort. Immortals of Aveum offers something to build on, both in terms of its own lore and for this up-and-coming studio as a whole.

This review is based on a PlayStation digital code provided by the publisher. Immortals of Aveum is available now on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S for $59.99 USD on PC and $69.99 on consoles. The game is rated M.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

Review for
Immortals of Aveum
  • Beautiful environments and character models
  • Strong combat design
  • Fascinating lore worth exploring
  • Talent tree allows for build experimentation
  • Characters won't stop quipping... ever
  • Environments feel mundane
  • Clichéd plot twists almost bring the whole thing down
  • Gear system feels superfluous
From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 21, 2023 9:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Immortals of Aveum review: The magic hour

    • reply
      August 22, 2023 5:06 AM

      With that headline I was expecting a much higher review score, lol

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        August 22, 2023 6:01 AM

        Where’s the review score? It’s not showing up for me

    • reply
      August 22, 2023 5:08 AM

      Yeah, it reviewed as expected

    • reply
      August 22, 2023 5:34 AM

      Immortals of Aveum!!!!!

      such an amazingly dumb name

      • reply
        August 22, 2023 5:50 AM

        The name is so generic, I keep forgetting what it’s called. Gonna pick it up at least..

      • reply
        August 22, 2023 6:11 AM

        Sounds like some MOBA that should have come out in 2010 or so

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          August 22, 2023 2:06 PM

          Between the name and the original teaser, I definitely thought it was something like Fortnite but with magic. Yet another attempted live service cash-in.

    • reply
      August 22, 2023 5:51 AM

      I’ll get it when it’s 20 bucks

      • reply
        August 22, 2023 6:16 AM

        Sounds like that will happen sooner rather than later with the low review scores. I’ll pick up wrestlequest instead

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