Ascendant Studios has given us very little information about its first title, Immortals of Aveum, over the past few months. Since its presentation at The Game Awards 2022, we have had a handful of small glimpses of this title, which aims to mix the first-person shooter with magic in a single-player experience. Luckily, it’s not long until launch and we’ve already been able to play a title that’s shaping up to be a great first experience from this studio.
A few days ago we had the opportunity to travel to the Electronic Arts offices in Redwood City, California, to get a first-hand look at the world of Aveum and to enter a very different war from the one we are used to. It is clear that Ascendant Studios is not trying to reinvent the wheel in video games, but it shows that there is always room to add interesting twists to the systems we already know.
A different perspective on magic
Immortals of Aveum takes us to a high fantasy world where Laylines cover the planet, allowing a lucky few to control different types of magic. This has led its inhabitants to fight in the Everwar, a war for control and domination of this power. After several nations and kingdoms have fallen, only Lucium resists the attacks of Rasharn, led by the evil Sandrak.
Enter Jak, the story’s main character, who has the gift of being a Triarch Magnus, able to control the three types of magic that cover this world. Although he knows he is not a soldier, he is willing to learn everything he can to join the Order of the Immortals, the elite group of Battlemages led by Grand Magnus Kirkan, in order to avenge the death of his family caused by this war.
From what we were able to learn about this world and its history, we found several aspects that seem attractive and make us want to know more. The world is very well built with a look that mixes high fantasy with structures and planes that take us to other worlds. According to the studio, the world is inspired by a mixture of Lord of the Rings and military tactics. The attention to detail is highly polished, from the scenery to effects such as water, particles, and light, to aspects as prominent as the tattoos on Jak’s hand. As for the characters, they are pleasant, and despite being in extremely serious or tense moments, they even crack a joke or make a remark to break the tension, having moments that the studio admits are inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The magic that surrounds us
Our test session covered the first two chapters of the game, as well as a mission later in the story. The first served as a tutorial, while the next two took us into the action and introduced us to other aspects of the game.
First of all, we need to talk about the main element that creates this world, which is magic. Previously, Ascendant Studios introduced us to the three types of magic that are part of this world, but now we get to know them in more detail. The blue one allows us to make precise long-range shots. On the other hand, the red one is aggressive and close-range. Finally, we have the green, which is extremely fast. Each of these colors faithfully represents an archetype of modern weapons, with considerations such as not having to worry about picking up ammunition on the ground or long reload times. From these colors come augments that add to our list of abilities. Here we can find a shield that can protect us from enemy shots, the use of a lash that allows us to lure them to attack them up close, or throw some kind of fluid to slow down other lines, or even the ability to move specific structures, from statues to huge tree branches, to be able to continue our adventure.
This magic also gives us other important abilities, such as the Double Jump, which allows us to float in the air for a while. There are also other more powerful magics called Furies that serve as special attacks and have their own mana bar. For example, there is one that allows us to send a wave across the ground that can disable enemy shields, while a similar power, but red, enable us to send a shockwave to stop large groups of enemies. In addition, for the third part of the demo, another bar was unlocked that, when filled, allowed us to unleash a completely devastating special power.
Most of the enemies you will face have only one color of magic they are vulnerable to, which corresponds to their attack style. For example, those that attack from a distance have a blue color, while those that attack in close combat have a red color. This doesn’t mean that you can only attack these enemies with that color, but there is a strategy that can make things a bit easier... to a certain extent, because when waves of enemies of all sizes and colors arrive, switching between magic colors becomes complicated.
This combination of colors, abilities, and special powers opens the way to a combat system that is more complex than you might imagine. And although there are moments when the enemies are gradually eliminated, there are also moments when the action becomes frenetic and chaotic, where you shoot and use all your arsenal - or remember to breathe again in real life when it is all over. And facing waves of enemies, a great dragon or giant stone creature has its grace.
The world of Aveum is impressive and unique. We traveled through ancient battlefields, besieged fortresses, forests, and caves, each full of details and an atmosphere so well maintained that we always felt like we were in another world. Although the path was quite linear in many parts, there are details that made us want to explore a little more. In addition to finding boxes that give items and coins, you can also find some classic collectibles like diaries or letters that give more context to the world. The game also features some environmental puzzles based on the different colors, some are simple, but there are also some not-so-obvious ones that hide some special items.
Immortal of Aveum is not an FPS that focuses only on the shooting part, as it also integrates some RPG layers to modify our combat stats and open up a range of possibilities. This is achieved through two parts, the first focusing on items, while there is also a part related to the skill tree.
In terms of items, we can expect to see items such as different bracelets or rings that will help improve aspects such as our armor or the stats of the magic we use. On the other hand, we can also change the bracelets that we use to attack. This can be done either by finding a new one by solving a puzzle, or by crafting them through the forges found in the world. Here we use the gold and essences we get from chests and enemies to create new weapons with more power, charge, and speed.
On the other hand, we will have a skill tree system where we will be able to improve the talents we use. This will open up opportunities to add more power and even some additional effects to the magic we unlock.
The world we have yet to know
Whether it was due to time or not having the options turned on, there is content that has yet to be discovered that gives us a glimpse of what we can expect. Before playing, we were told about some hubs that exist in the game where we can buy materials and weapons. At some point in the mission, we found a portal that was deactivated, and we can only assume that it is the entrance to these places, perhaps allowing us to return to some points on the map.
Considering the environmental puzzles and how some rely on the speed of certain weapons, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for the game to allow us to return to some locations to try again. The large skill tree and the various paths and abilities that can be unlocked in its entirety also remained to be explored. Some of these branches hinted at a healing system, although it is unclear if it is self-healing or for NPCs.
We left Aveum eager to learn more about what this world has to offer. The magic system is a solid foundation that supports this world. While this is not a game that aims to revolutionize the genre, it does strive to create a group of characters and a world where you can feel the heart and experience of this studio. More importantly, it has all the makings of a great calling card for Ascendant Studios and demonstrates the keen eye that the EA Originals brand has had in recent years.
Immortals of Aveum will be released on July 20th for PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC.