released on Aug 30, 2022
by Half Mermaid
Marissa Marcel was a film star. She made three movies. But none of the movies was ever released. And Marissa Marcel disappeared. The new game from Sam Barlow, creator of Her Story.
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Went here expecting a psychological horror and got the horniest script ever written by a man
we've come a long way from night trap and sewer shark and all it took was someone realizing to dial it down to about 5% game and 95% movie
Unique experience, story is really great. Kind of Art
It is a cool concept and gameplay experience, but it is confusing at first and has somewhat of an awkward ending. I tried so hard to pull all the stories together and form a complete understanding of the story. However as I was navigating the menu, I randomly found the ending. All the acting performances in this are amazing though.
From the very start, something is off with Immortality. Before the game even begins, the title screen you’re presented with is off-putting, a stool in a sterile room, off-kilter music, you don’t even get the proper title of the game at this point, instead calling the game a “film restoration project” of the game’s star, Marissa Marcel. What is most off-putting isn’t all of these factors, but what will occur when you merely scroll down, as I did to mess with the options where there is just something in the frame, and it just keeps coming in and out as you discover it. Only after starting the game do you realize it is Marissa herself, about to make her audition for her eventual first on-screen appearance. One that would never become public, and from a scene you likely will not find until well into the game.
This feeling of offness is one you will feel throughout all of Immortality, a game straight off the heels of creator Sam Barlow’s previous FMV works, Her Story and Telling Lies. While I can’t speak for Telling Lies, I did play Her Story not long ago, in preparation for when I’d get to it. And it is a great game, but one that I would say is a good execution of a flawed concept. FMV has always been extraordinarily cool to me, as someone who was too young to ever experience them in their peak, almost kind of having a mythic quality to me for something so dated and rarely ever attempted again, it's just a style I think is too charming not to love. But the gameplay loop of Her Story inherently meant you would uncover most of the narrative’s mystery well before it would be as truly impactful as Viva Seifart’s dynamite performance would have you believe. So how do you expand upon that concept in a way that would keep all the strengths that FMV can provide to storytelling, while making it so you wouldn’t accidentally stumble across something perhaps more early than you ought to.
Immortality almost makes it look like child's play. A stupidly simple mechanic in which you’d use the various contextual objects and clues to hop between the game’s three films that always makes every scene dynamic and exciting. The amount of work that went into this game’s setting and contextualizing every different movie as a period piece meant to represent each film’s era is staggering. Even the little details like the subtitles being completely different go a long way in making each film distinct, and that's before you get into the sets, film styles, and attitudes that you’ll see in the over 200 clips. The immature and misogynistic pathos that permeates all of Ambrosio, the more rebel messiness and dingy feel of Minsky, or the very dreamy, pretty Lynchian feel of Two of Everything and all their behind the scenes work. It is a gorgeous game to behold, as someone who loves the aspect of filmmaking, watching a new scene in this game felt like a treat that there was constantly more of; helped by an incredibly charming cast that made everything feel that much more real.
But that offness never quite leaves, and as you scour more and more of the game, it very quickly became more and more terrifying to me. Very few games get under my skin in the ways this game does, especially with a controller in hand, which this game makes special use of. But when you discover the second layer to this game, it straight up horrified me. Not to spoil too much, as this is a game that you should go in knowing very little if at all possible; but the performances in these secret scenes are next level, and the ability to simply just look at the camera was enough to send shivers down my spine. That is, until you discover the third and final layer that this game presents to you.
Without saying too much in a review that I would hope helps inspire more people to go and check out this game, there is a scene, if you’ve played the game you already know what it is, that essentially forces you to recontextualize everything in this game. I was lucky enough to avoid spoiling it for myself beforehand, but it's an emotional bomb, one that made me weep almost on command, and was essentially the moment I realized how special this game truly was. Immortality isn’t just a triumph of Barlow’s style, a game that could only have been made after tweaking his style to fit a modern context, but its a celebration of art and why we love it and continue to make it. A game that can be hard to stomach, but oh so rewarding should you let it be. I have so much I want to say about Immortality that I cannot without spoiling the game, but it's truly something that will forever stick with me. An overwhelming masterwork that I cannot wait to get to talk about for years to come with my friends; I can only hope they will love it as much as I have.
oh creepy jumpscare lady, we're really in it now...