Immortality | game review
You and I are gonna live forever...
Game summary: Marissa Marcel was a film star. She made three movies. But none of the movies were ever released. And Marissa Marcel disappeared. (IMDb)
I really liked Her Story, which is a previous game from Sam Barlow, who is also responsible for Immortality. The latter is better thanks to what appears to be much higher production values making for a far larger number of video clips to search through, with a much, much bigger cast. On the other hand, it's not quite as user-friendly as the first game.
The story here is that you're attempting to reconstruct three movies starring the mysterious Marissa Marcel (Manon Gage), while also spooling through promotional material and a lot of behind the scenes footage. Along the way, there is the opportunity to discover hidden footage inside some of these clips which have a decidedly supernatural element to them that will help you figure out just what the hell is going on.
The biggest problem I had with Immortality is that it wasn't designed for how I looked through clips. In addition to finding the hidden footage - and sometimes hidden footage inside hidden footage - you can pause the video and click on certain indicated items to unlock new clips to watch. These items can be props, faces, accessories of various body parts, although you can always use +-button to cycle through them if you don't want to move the cursor across the screen.
The game seems to be designed for people to effectively 'wiki-walk' through the footage they unlock, finding the hidden clips and unlocking new ones while never looking back. The thing is that I don't like to miss out on anything if I can help it, so every time I unlocked a new clip and the game started playing it, I'd back straight out and return to the one I was watching, wanting to find as much as I could before moving on.
And that's how the credits rolled on Immortality for me after watching around twelve clips in full - the latest of the eighty-odd I'd unlocked obviously contained the trigger to start the final clip and credits, leaving me completely bewildered as I'd only just started trying to make sense of how the couple of hidden clips I'd seen related to the regular footage.
Her Story only finished when you'd had enough, piecing together whatever you could of the story and then telling the game that you were done, providing one final reveal. This game starting the credits even if you haven't even watched the clip that triggers them feels really off-putting as a result - surely the trigger should've been to watch a certain amount of the vital clip rather than just randomly finding it?
The game allows you to keep investigating the clips after the credits have finished, so I did go back and keep working my way through them (and I still am despite believing that I now understand what's going - there are 202 clips to find in total and I'm still forty-odd clips shy of that) as I really enjoyed the performances of the cast and the story being told, but having 'finished' the game, there's been a bit of an emotional disconnect.
Immortality is on Game Pass, so I'd definitely recommend playing it for anyone who has that, but if you would need to buy the game to play it, I would just caution that the gameplay does involve a lot of simply watching clips, trying to find the hidden clips (there are gamepad rumbles and audio cues to let you know when you've found something) or unlocking new footage through clicking on parts of the screen in the Image mode, which won't be for everyone.
Again, I really do like the performances and I especially appreciate the hidden footage as it can sometimes be incredibly unsettling and creepy, often after watching an otherwise completely innocent piece of a movie. I should also warn that there's a lot of swearing, drug use, sex and nudity in this game, those last two especially eye-opening considering how conservative the games industry usually is when it comes to sexuality.
There's also a lot here for film fans as the fictional movies are being made decades apart, and you can really see the difference in how films have change since the late Sixties/early Seventies compared to the late Nineties - going from 'Ambrosio' (1968) to 'Two of Everything' (1999) can be jarring at times, but it's still fun to see and could also be seen as commentary of how indiscriminate Hollywood is about hoovering up attractive young women without any regard for who they really are.
So Immortality isn't a game that will be for everyone, but I've thoroughly enjoyed practically every moment I've spent with it - I just wish it had been harder to trigger the final scene and credits than it was. I'm continuing to enjoy it too, working my way through the clips and constantly unlocking more footage - although I also wish there was a better way to track exactly what I've watched, with a notepad having to be used instead.
Immortality is a really interesting game that has an unbelievable amount of footage - some of which is incredibly creepy - to work your way through as you piece together the multi-layered story, but it does appear to have been designed to be experienced in a specific way, meaning you can accidentally see the credits roll with the vast majority of the clips yet to be found or seen, with no idea what happened at all.