The scale of EA's 'Originals' program has certainly grown this year with the arrival of Wild Hearts and Immortals of Aveum - two full-priced titles aimed squarely at the AAA gaming market. We've spent this week playing through the latter — EA's brand new magic-based shooter — and have come away largely impressed by Ascendant Studios' debut title. It's not a perfect punch, but Immortals of Aveum's spellbinding shooting does more than enough to lift the load, despite some awkward storytelling throughout its 15-hour runtime.
Immortals starts out with quite a lengthy tutorial/introduction section - in fact, its full intro actually spans across multiple chapters before you begin to learn your full magic-based skillset. It's during this period that the team attempts to lay out the game's lore and introduce some of its central characters, and in these opening stages we felt fairly invested in what was happening in the world around us. Some big bad bloke was attacking the main character's home city — which resembled a slum-like region — and you were beginning to plot how you and your pals could use your magic to help stop him.
However, we quickly began tuning out much of the story once the intro wrapped up to be quite honest. Immortals of Aveum throws so much lore at you in such a short space of time that it quickly feels confusing - not helped by the fact the names of factions, species, spells and seemingly everything else in this world all sound so similar it's really easy to forget what's what. It's not shockingly bad or anything like that, but everything here feels samey and derivative and if you're anything like us, you'll quickly start letting story details slip your mind as you start getting stuck into combat.
And with that, we can start talking about the real highlight of Immortals of Aveum - its shooty bits. Protagonist Jack is soon packed to the brim with loads of different magic guns, spells, special abilities, projectiles and everything in between, and performing slick combos is great fun as you progress through the game's outlandish, otherworldly levels.
During the introductory parts of our adventure these combat scenarios felt relatively tame - we were getting Bulletstorm vibes from this one early on as we whipped enemies around the joint trying to find the most creative ways to kill 'em. But, as the levels get more complex and enemy behaviour becomes more unpredictable, Immortals of Aveum feels more like modern-day DOOM with a boatload of magic thrown into the mix. Movement becomes a huge part of surviving everything Immortals throws your way, and it's safe to say you'll need to be on your toes when combat kicks in.
Immortals isn't quite as slick and to-the-beat as id Software's seminal shooter often is - the action is a lot more chaotic, to be frank. But most of the time it still works, and in and amongst the chaos we quickly slipped into our own raucous rhythm. The game does make some combat choices for you — often enemy colour coding matches a certain spell, making them vulnerable to a particular attack — but you still feel in control of the action. Immortals of Aveum is like a mad dance and the fighting here is definitely the highlight.
Boss battles don't fare quite as well though. They typically fail to offer up anything unique and the combat we've just described works a lot better with clusters of mobile baddies than one or two big dudes that lumber about the place. There are one or two bosses that will test your dexterity, but the rest feel like stopgaps to the next story beat or big combat bowl and to be honest, the game would have been just as good without the majority of them.
Coming onto the technical makeup of this one for a minute, a lot has been said about Immortals of Aveum being one of the generation's early Unreal Engine 5 titles, but in truth, nothing screams 'next-gen' to us here. There are lots of pretty particle effects and the game does run at 60FPS on Xbox Series X and S (with some noticeable frame rate drops for us on Series X), but the team has had to drop the resolution down quite a bit to accommodate performance. We're looking at a game that appears to be running at sub-HD, at least natively - resulting in a somewhat 'blurry' look overall.
Truth be told we didn't mind that too much though. 60FPS feels a must with how Immortals handles combat; we were just hoping that the visuals might be a bit more impressive for a current-gen-only $70 game. Ascendant Studios has got the job done on a technical level for its first outing though, and we're definitely going to be paying attention to what this team does next.
In many ways, Immortals of Aveum feels like an old school FPS. It may be modern in how it lays on dozens of systems, skill tree options and character abilities, but fast-paced combat in a bright & colourful alien world is definitely the order of the day here. The game's story is a huge miss admittedly, and a more cohesive narrative would have surely bumped our score up a notch, but as it stands Immortals of Aveum is still a slick first-person shooter that's definitely worth a playthrough. Its $70 price point is questionable, but we still recommend playing this one, especially when it eventually drops onto Xbox Game Pass via EA Play.