After being announced at least year’s Game Awards, Ascendant Studios’ first game, Immortals of Aveum, has finally been shown off in-depth, via a special presentation to games media which we were able to view. Ascendant Studios’ has been formed with talent with experience from many significant games, like The Walking Dead and Bioshock, but significantly its leader worked on several Call of Duty titles, and was even inspired to create Immortals while working on that series.
Immortals of Aveum is a first-person shooter, where your character is a battlemage. That seems like a simplistic description of the creative work behind the game, but it’s also fairly apt, watching your characters’ arm recoil repeatedly like a machine gun, except they’re blasting green thunderbolts from their fingertips, which is awesome and also kind of amusing to see. The world of Aveum, in the midst of an ‘Everwar’ between two nations, is home to mages who are attuned to one of three kinds of magic (red, blue and green) which visually criss-cross the world in giant glowing ley lines. Your character, Jak, is a rare sort who can utilise all three, known as a tri-arch.
Jak joins the ‘Immortals’, a group described as ‘superheroes’ of the world, fighting to bring about an end to the war. In practice, they look a lot like a Call of Duty task force, air-dropping into the midst of a magical skirmishes to unleash their abilities. The three kinds of magic correspond to weapon types – blue magic fires straight and accurately, red magic behaves like a shotgun, while green magic is a high-speed machine gun type of weapon, which homes in on enemies. Jak’s power is focused through his ‘sigil’, a piece of equipment wielded on his right hand, which can be replaced and upgraded with gear you find throughout the game. A magical shield is also always available, although it has limited durability and slows movement whenever it’s brought out. These powers have been developed with synergy and combo-potential in mind, and it looked pretty enjoyable from the gameplay demonstration shown.
There are supplemental abilities that go along with this core power-set. Furies are larger, more powerful, spells like giant area-destroying waves of spikes. Jak has a lash that can be used to reel in enemies for close-range combat, and he can ‘blink’ to teleport out of the way of enemy attacks. There are also items like limpets, that can be used to slow down time for enemies, or objects in the environment to solve puzzles.
The developers called attention specifically to the fact that Immortals of Aveum will feature lots of environmental puzzles and exploration, to set it apart from other first-person shooters. An example shown had Jak use an item to redirect a light beam to open progression forward. They also highlighted that you can return to areas with new abilities to new gear, and that there is a deep progression system that not only lets you outfit Jak with different equipment, but upgrade his talents in blue, red or green magic.
Built on Unreal Engine 5.1, the visuals also looked very impressive, particularly with character models but also with the range of locations shown, from crystalline caves to floating islands and fantasy-styled castles.
While the founder of the studio is quick to point out that Immortals of Aveum is not just ‘fantasy Call of Duty’, in many ways the gameplay demonstration we saw did look a little like that – with that same cinematic presentation and scope for battles -and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’ll be interesting to see just how the combo system, puzzles and exploration work together to make Immortals of Aveum feel like its own game too, when the game is released in the near future on 20 July, 2023 on Xbox Seriese X|S, PlayStation 5 and PC.