Back in the winter of 2022, upon seeing the announcement trailer for Ascendant Studio’s new game, Immortals of Aveum, I was surprised to find myself genuinely interested. I mean, a militaristic fantasy first-person shooter may sound like just another run-of-the-mill game, but something about the cinematics caught my attention. The frenetic combat, the bright magic beams, the epic story of rebellion and dragons narrated by actors Gina Torres and Darren Barnet – it all seemed quite intriguing. The fact that it is single-player and story-driven with a contained campaign is also a plus, especially in a world where most games are open-world live-service features. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that the founder of Ascendant Studios, Bret Robbins, was also the creative director of the original Dead Space, which is something to get excited about. With former Telltale Games members on board, the game promises to center on a dense and exciting storyline.
I finally got to test the game out for myself at the Summer Game Fest 2023, and my first impression was nothing less than awe-inspiring. The motion capture was incredibly smooth and the character models were well-detailed, with beautiful eye markings and intricate layers of gear that made them truly impressive. The cutscenes were clear and concise, making it easier to delve into the game’s plot and the ravaged world of Aveum, even in the short period of time.
Gameplay-wise, I was granted access to the blue type of magic, which had two abilities: a whip that could pull enemies towards me, and a burst of balled-up energy spammable as fast as I could press R2. I also used the Animate ability on a giant rock hand, and used a telekinesis-type power to manipulate its fingers and bridge a gap between two cliffside landings. Although, with the hyper-lubricated controls, I did find that my reticle often slid beyond my intended targets, but I feel that it’s something that I could easily get used to after 30 more minutes with the game.
The most jarring part of the game is traversing the terrain – there were many craggy mountainsides and rock walls that appeared to be climbable but weren’t. Maybe I had to spend more time learning the intricacies of gap-jumping and ledge-grabbing, but I found my character to be somewhat less nimble than I would have liked, unable to entirely pull himself onto platforms. However, I think the movement restrictions were deliberate and appropriate. The game felt more like a puzzle game than a climbing adventure, with a series of locked stone doors and multicolored gems to throw magic at in specific patterns.
Although I didn’t encounter a vast number of enemies, I’m confident that the game’s combat would be frenzied in an excellent way with more magical powers and perhaps, a few more enemies. The game will be out on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on the 20th of July and with its impressive look and feel created via Unreal Engine 5, I remain intrigued and excited to see the world of high-fantasy politics that lies within Immortals of Aveum.
Catch up on all of the news from Summer Game Fest right here!