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Immortals Of Aveum is more Doom than magic Call Of Duty, but it's far too serious for its own good

Lighten up

Jak, main character in Immortals Of Aveum, looks into the camera as his eyes and face tattoos glow blue
Image credit: Ascendant Studios / EA

Immortals Of Aveum is EA and Ascendant Studio's upcoming first-person shooter where, instead of propelling metal at high speeds, you're slinging magic with your hands. We got another good look at said magic slinging at this year's Summer Game Fest, which has seemingly resulted in several reports of it being like a wizardy Call Of Duty. But having played a 30 minute demo of it this week, I reckon it's nothing like COD at all, really. Instead, it's more like Doom / your other retro shooter of choice, but one that carries itself with a frightening seriousness. Sometimes, that's fine. There have been plenty of these smaller sorts of blockbusters that have successfully struck the right balance of silly to serious, with the best ascending to a place of endearment. But so far, Immortals Of Aveum hasn't filled me with hope that it'll join the likes of Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, or like, The Darkness, as a twinkling beacon of silly fun.

I've seen some articles and vids elsewhere on the internet that compare Immortals Of Aveum to COD, as if it was an obvious comparison to make and it would be silly to suggest otherwise. And because I am a desperately bitter person, I do think it's a silly comparison to make, even if creative director Brett Robbins worked on COD back in his Sledgehammer days. From what I've played, Immortals pits you as an agile spellcaster who's capable of quick-dashing to dodge enemy strikes or lassoing cronies with your free hand to crack them with the magical equivalent of a shotgun blast. Success isn't won by peeking out from behind cover and dropping soldiers through the notch of a magical ironsight, it's about barreling around the place using the power of your primary colours.

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With the flick of a scroll wheel, you can cycle through blue, green, and red wrists, each corresponding to a magical version of your most basic guns: blue is a rifle, green is an SMG, red is a shotgun. They all feel somewhat impactful and it's nice being able to swap between them so readily, enabling you to shred multiple tangos with the equivalent of a left hook, quick jab, then a big uppercut to finish. Some enemies come outfitted with coloured electricity shields, so it forces you to switch your wrist and hit them with the appropriate hue.

You've also got some special spells, many of which you can swap out and unlock later in the game. In the demo, I unlocked a big red wave of energy which did lots of damage to multiple enemies, and it had proper 'last ditch' energy about it. Later, I noticed that some gates had colour-coded runes on them, so I looked about, shot them all, and then got a ring as a reward. Truthfully, the rest of my demo hadn't given me the slightest inkling that I'd be swapping out doodad rewards like this, but due to the limited time left in my demo, I wasn't able to try it out properly or get a sense of what the rest of its menu screens would have in store for me.

A someone who adores underground FPS gems, I think there's a certain charm to Immortals in the way it's seemingly graduated from the Channel 5 academy of magic or the bottom of the Prime Video list. You know, the sort of fast fantasy where everyone and everything sounds like the Latin name of a botanical plant. The action nonsense is present in the game's showy battles, which see missiling colours into knights with big axes. It's also there in the way everyone's kitted out in maximalist nerd garb, all gauntlets, capes, and arms embedded with blue crystals. You could almost say it has a lot in common with Final Fantasy 15 in this sense. With its four goth lads on a roadtrip to beat up titanic monsters with swords and magic (and maybe get one of them to their wedding), Final Fantasy 15 was a game that struck a good balance between the goofy and the serious - and often, I have a lot of time for these sort of games. The kind that don't take themselves too seriously and just want you, the silly magic man with silly spells, to have some fun.

A screenshot from Immortals Of Aveum which shows a green spell being slung at a a large serpent/dragon called Exalted Leylodon.
Image credit: Ascendant Studios / EA
A red spell being conjured in Immortals Of Aveum, as an armored knight jumps through the air and slings an axe at the player.
A screenshot from Immortals Of Aveum which shows the player readies a fire spell to sling at The Morbane, a big armored fella with an axe in hand.
Image credit: Ascendant Studios / EA

The trouble is, I think Immortals is far too sober for its own good. Just from some of the opening cutscenes, there's a lot of very self-indulgent chatter between glowy-eyed mages who are all determined to make a war between primary colours a deeply important conflict. You wait for the wisecrack, anything to make the lip quiver just an inch with a molecule of levity. But it never comes, and I found it difficult to get invested in its struggle as a result.

And while there's certainly some punch to the magic you shoot from your wrist, I'd argue its magic doesn't really ever feel like, you know, magic. Or at least the kind of ethereal stuff that's often conjured from nothing by a gnarled stick or some twirling crystals. Spells can be mighty satisfying in something like Diablo 4, where hooning a fireball or raising a swirling pillar of frost can give you those explosions of dopamine. But magic in Immortals suffers when its rattled off like gunfire, because it rarely - if ever, actually - is loaded into a chamber and backed by the kick of a weighty slab of metal.

For me, a good FPS has you connect with the thing in your hands that you're shooting with, which is where Immortals falls down. Even if the magic looks flashy and sparks fly off your enemies with each hit, it still can't avoid the face it shoots from your dainty fingertips. But even putting my gun-heft concerns aside for a moment, it probably doesn't come as a surprise that Immortals Of Aveum's demo at Summer Game Fest didn't really do it for me. Maybe I'll warm to it come full release or I start craving some silliness. Even then, it's still too serious. Gah, I wish it just lightened up a bit!

NotE3 and Summer Game Fest 2023 is over for another year. You can find out all the latest news by visiting our E3 2023 hub, or you can catch up with our round-up posts of everything that was announced at Summer Game Fest, the Xbox Games Showcase, the PC Gaming Show, Day Of The Devs, and our top highlights from the Wholesome Direct.

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