NEED TO KNOW
What is it? Fantasy shooter that’s essentially spellcasting with guns. An FPS in sorcerer’s robes.
Release date August 3, 2023
Expect to pay £50/$60
Developer Ascendant Studios
Publisher Electronic Arts
Reviewed on Intel core 15-13600k, 16gb ram, Nvidia Quadro RTX 4000
Steam Deck N/A
Link Official site
An FPS that replaces traditional guns with spells that, er, feel mostly like traditional guns, Immortals of Aveum should be commended for trying something new. Ish. And nothing else new at all. But once you get over that not-insignificant hurdle, there’s a decent magical shooter here. One that lets you fire some very pretty particle effects, a fine substitute for boring old bullets.
You’ve got three coloured slots for your ‘sigils’ (i.e. your guns). Red for close-combat, green for rapid-fire, and blue for distant shots. The game gives you new sigils frequently so it shouldn’t take long to find something you like. I relied on a joyous minigun-aping green sigil for most of the game. There’s more magical stuff here too, like blue spells that can be charged up into throwable javelins. That one can be a nightmare to pull off in the heat of battle, but oh-so worth it when it does connect.
Yes, Immortals nails the important bit. These spells are fun to fire. They have a nice sense of impact, especially against human foes who go flying, cursing at you in fantasy gibberish. When everyone’s casting various flavours of death at you and you’re countering with every trick you have, battles quickly descend into an angry firework display. It can be a struggle to figure out what’s going on but I enjoyed that struggle. It gave the shooting a fun sense of chaos, all the more satisfying when I somehow emerged from it alive.
Full credit for those miraculous escapes go to my ‘furies’, powers that draw from a finite mana pool. There’s a fury that shatters shields, one that hurtles you across the arena for a vicious punch, and a personal favourite that blasts all enemies around you. There’s something wonderfully petulant about getting surrounded because you’ve gotten yourself bottlenecked and then slamming a fury to turn the tables. It’s generous with health and mana crystals too, encouraging you to use those powers. Navigating fights is smooth, with a double-jump from the start and later the ability to hover. I loved floating down from on high, machine-gunning like a homicidal Doctor Strange. There’s a stun move that, when timed just right, makes enemies magic attacks backfire on them. I got a lot of smug satisfaction out of that one too.
Played with all the settings cranked high, it’s certainly pretty, if uninspired in its art direction. There’s a robust suite of visual settings to tinker with, and I found it ran fine on a much weaker setup too once those were adjusted down. There was a glitch where a minor boss fight skipped itself which a day one patch promises to fix. But I hardly felt cheated given that it took me just under 22 hours to get through the main story (it could have easily cut a few hours), with plenty of challenges still to find and six optional bosses to track down.
A title screen proudly informed me this game is from the ‘EA ORIGINALS’ line. Hmmm. That claim would likely hold up in court but earn a few tuts from the jury. If you play a lot of shooters you’ve probably been getting frequent deja vu reading this review, and that feeling never really fades when playing it. Lashing enemies towards me for close-up hits is fun but it’s Overwatch-flavoured fun. There’s puzzles which require shooting coloured locks with—make sure you’re sitting down for that one—corresponding-coloured spells. ‘Animate’ promises the power to manipulate objects to solve traversal puzzles, but it’s only used in very specific circumstances, usually to move a platform into place for a limited time. A nagging sense that you’ve seen all this done slightly better elsewhere stops Immortals from ever forging an identity of its own.
There’s craftable and upgradeable gear because of course there bloody is. Upgrades give you higher damage, more capacity, etc. All solidly-implemented but there’s no choice in buffs or trade-offs to consider. You either upgrade that piece of equipment or you don’t. Buffs are rarely so low that they feel insignificant, but it all feels a little token. The skill tree is far better, as it’s full of good stuff and lets you tailor your playstyle more. Coward that I am, I buffed my shield to make strikes restore health and enemies take damage when they shattered it. Later branches give huge buffs too, like 60% more damage for your green power. 60%! Rewards like that kept me eagerly coming back to the tree to fill it out.
Tolkein the piss
Perhaps you’re curious about the game’s story, so let’s nip that curiosity in the bud. You play as Jak, a wisecracking Dave Franco-type who alternates between being boring and insufferable. Just like the story he’s in. If you’re not a fan of Marvel-wannabe dialogue where everyone’s either relentlessly quipping or drowning you in dull exposition then you’re going to want to cast ‘deafen’ on yourself. It’s a seen-it-all-before standard fantasy setting with tired tropey characters, an absurdly predictable twist, and a horrible habit of indulging in cringeworthy, down-with-the-kidz-speak (“we’re tight”) that made it very tempting to knock 60 points off the score.
‘FPS Has Bad Story’ isn’t the kind of shocking headline that’s going to get PC Gamer clicks (it doesn’t even mention Baldur’s Gate 3). But there’s an awful lot of story and you can’t skip the cutscenes. It’s also more tiresomely potty-mouthed than your younger brother who’s just discovered swearing and thinks it’s the coolest thing in the world. “You’re shitting me!” No I am not, Immortals. Go wash your mouth out with soap.
Despite nearly breaking the mute key on my keyboard, I did have fun with this. Vultures hoping for a complete travesty of an EA-published magical shooter will have to settle for this classic. I enjoyed machine-gunning magic and getting my opponents to hit themselves with their own spells made me feel like the wizarding school bully I’ve always dreamed of being. A flawed, overfamiliar FPS then, but certainly more magic than tragic.