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Immortals of Aveum review: Jak of all trades, master of none

In this hectic spell of triple-A hell, Immortals of Aveum is a borderline impossible sell.

Jak in Immortals of Aveum
Image credit: VG247

Not in years have I seen a game thrown out to die as hard as Immortals of Aveum. Developed by Ascendant Studios, it's a game that hopes to combine some good ol' fashioned FPS action with some slick spell-slinging. An interesting pitch for sure, but sadly not one that manifests itself in an especially exhilarating fashion. Immortals of Aveum is a middling adventure, which just so happens to be releasing at a time when several industry-shaking games are releasing. It is a game doomed for the bargain bin.

But perhaps you're still curious. Immortals of Aveum is a first-person shooter where you, in the run-down shoes of Jak, find yourself living in a magical slum preciously built over a literal bottomless pit. Content with this prime real estate, he lives with a gaggle of other urchin children away from a forever war between the tyrannical Sandrakk and the last vestiges of resistance. From these humble beginnings, Jak becomes a powerful magus in his own right and must take the fight to Sandrakk with the help of his Whedon-esque wit and the various magical spells at his disposal.

Immortals of Aveum's real narrative value comes from its cast of characters, not from any sort of enriched, overarching plot. I did find myself enjoying the performance of some of these side characters, but Jak himself didn't win me over. The protagonist may have a 'love it or hate it' Marmite effect on players, thanks to the writers' snark-ridden, quip-heavy approach with the character. It's not as heavy-handed as Forspoken was, but it's in the same ballpark. Your own personal tolerance for this style of character work and dialogue will greatly impact your overall investment in Immortals of Aveum's story.

You might – might – find soothing refuge within Immortals of Aveum's combat. Your arsenal is split into red, green, and blue forms of magic, each with its own general purpose in fights. Red, for example, is your close-ranged option; a magical shotgun (for all intents and purposes), tweakable into a form that fits your style via different arm-mounted magical instruments you can find or craft.

Immortals of Aveum dragon fight
They throw a dragon fight at your early - the devs know exactly what you want from a magic-based shooter. | Image credit: VG247

Immortals of Aveum quickly teaches you the importance of switching between these various forms of magics. Different styles of magic have different ranges and purposes, and some enemies are even resistant to all but a single damage type (red flag). It's a tried-and-true FPS classic – when you really get into Immortals of Aveum you can find yourself hot-swapping between magic, approaching fights like solving a puzzle. Clear out the melee enemies with my red magic shotgun first, break the blue shield with my blue magic javalin, clear up with green homing shots.

I worry that the game's talent system may invertedly encourage players to rely heavily on a specific magic type. You are presented with three options that align with the magic you have available, but investing entirely in a single tree provides ample bonuses (especially early on). It's hard to tempt yourself away from staggering upgrades like a 40% damage upgrade to blue / green / red magic – especially if you find yourself in love with a specific weapon – until you literally run out of upgrades to take.

In this position, you're left with one incredibly strong option, and two that fall behind. Wanna reset your talents and balance things out? There's a gold cost to do so. Why Immortals of Aveum charges you for changing-up your build, especially given how often it throws new weapons at you, is a mystery. You'd think encouraging players to experiment with their new-found magical tools would be encouraged. Instead, it's hard to drag yourself away from the familiar.

Immortals of Aveum equipment screen
This kind of system doesn't really add much to the overall experience. | Image credit: VG247

In Immortals of Aveum you can acquire rings, bracers, and other equipment that provides passive bonuses to certain spell types. Why? Is an additional 10% to red spell damage truly worth an entire gear system? Sure, it allows you to emphasize certain parts of your kit; if you love blue magic, you can go hard on blue magic. But does this not go against the soul of Aveum's combat?

It's not as though you're running through dungeons on repeat, a la Diablo 4 or Destiny 2 – this is a single-player FPS that the vast majority of players will beat once and never touch again. Will people meticulously prune their gear to maximize their damage, or will they slap as much extra blue damage as possible? All while the talent tree seemingly encourages blending your magical types together with powerful unlockable nodes that require spreading your points. The enjoyable action at the heart of Immortals of Aveum is at war with a gear and gold system that adds little, and muddies what could be a compelling mystical romp.

For its few merits, the looming problem with this high fantasy game comes from a very real world decision. Some of you may remember when EA released Titanfall 2 within days of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1 – this tops that. In my mind, it is the video game equivalent of taking Lenny out into the woods, 'Of Mice and Men' style.

Immortals of Aveum character
It's a real shame too. Immortals of Aveum has some good moments that loads of people will miss. | Image credit: VG247

Immortals of Aveum is not a GOTY-worthy classic; it shares a bed with Serious Sam games, Killzone: Shadowfall, and Homefront. Like its peers, it's a decent shooter with some heart to it, that tries its best to make being a powerful mage as compelling as a modern soldier or hell-bound Doom Slayer. If this game was released several months ago, it would have found its crowd. Now, it's far less likely to. A gear system that hoped to deepen the experience instead over complicates a genuinely entertaining shooter, standing out more as an odd inclusion than a enriching feature.

If you buy Immortals of Aveum, know that there is a good time here waiting for you. However, I deem it likely that it'll be on sale rather soon. If you're starving for some magic in your FPS pick it up, but even with some mystical flair and an admirable attempt at bringing mystic arts to a very gun-heavy genre, Immortals of Aveum ultimately fails to reach the heights of your Bulletstorms or Wolfenstiens.

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