Immortality is a difficult one to quantify as a game. Sure there are some game-like elements included throughout the experience but Immortality feels more like a genuine collector’s edition of some lost footage or unreleased movies than a true videogame.
Your goal during the experience is to find out the truth behind the disappearance of Marissa Marcel, a missing actress who was cast in three unreleased movies. You begin with one reel of clips from Marissa’s career and must discover more sections to uncover the tale.
Beginning with a talk show appearance that shows Marissa discussing the movie, you need to pause the movie, working through sections, pressing Y to go into image mode. Doing so will allow you to select an object or person with a tap of A. What this does is finds other sections of movies, documentaries or behind-the-scenes footage featuring the person or object selected. This allows you to unlock further footage, progressing so to speak.
Along the way you’ll find that your Xbox controller may vibrate, and in these sections you’ll need to utilise the right stick to carefully rewind the clip; doing so will see the game show footage of a woman speaking about time and space. Doing this anytime the controller vibrates is the key to unlocking the complete story. These segments feel like a monologue ripped from Doctor Who and were quite baffling when I first discovered one.
Talking about baffling, the game/experience itself is quite confusing as a whole. Never quite pointing you in the direction you need, there are no progress hints besides unlocking new scenes from the movies or footage. On occasion, selecting one of the actors’ faces or objects would go back to a scene I had already unlocked, leaving me confused and wondering how to progress.
Each movie feels like a genuinely forgotten, or as it is the case here, unreleased film from the past. In fact, I had to check with Google to see if Immortality used already existing movies to make it whole.
And those films… Ambrosio is a tale about a monk, complete with gratuitous sex scenes and a murderous plot to boot. Filmed in 1968 it is the first of Marissa’s movies. Minsky is a 1970’s detective thriller where one of the clips unveils a quite gruesome fate of an actor, due to what appears to be an accident. Two of Everything is the last movie, filmed in the 1990s and tells the story of a pop star diva and her body double.
Between the movies and the behind-the-scene moments that you will undoubtedly watch countless times, Immortality will see you trying to find the next clue to unlock more scenes. There are no real tutorials or guides and sometimes the least likely object in a scene can be the one you need to focus on in order to access the next set of clips. There is a definitive sense of trial and error that starts to sink in around the midway point of the game.
Finding the truth behind the goings on delivers quite a scary story. There will be no spoilers here but dark and eerie unlockable scenes are the key to the whole mystery. The movies themselves are for the most part risqué, violent and have quite a few F bombs dropped in, whether that be on-screen or behind-the-scenes. You’ll need to be mindful when playing Immortality. There is actually a disclaimer on the main menu, breaking down each of the subjects that may offend. They can be checked before playing, which is a thoughtful touch from the creators.
I am not quite sure there is another experience that can be compared to Immortality. Whether or not this is a good thing is up to the player. You see, this game will definitely not be for everyone and I can see many dropping out with confusion due to lack of direction and explanation as to what you are actually meant to do.
At the end of my own playthrough I have mixed feelings. On the one hand it has been an incredible experience, but on the other I am not sure if this can actually be analysed and critiqued in a traditional manner. Being more of an ‘experience’ than a game, I find it difficult to chastise Immortality as there are no real peers for it to be judged against.
That being said, the whole epic tale – from start to end – is not one that will be forgotten in a hurry. When the gameplay (if you can call it that) clicks, Immortality becomes an addiction. Suddenly you feel like a blur; a detective making that all important breakthrough because you selected an apple over a person in one scene. I truly cannot compare the game to anything else – it is at worst frustratingly confusing and at best, a genuine masterpiece.
Immortality is from Sam Barlow who also developed Her Story and Telling Lies. Having played neither of the above, Immortality was a strange experience for me. It is also hard to categorise the experience as a videogame. It is definitely one to recommend you try at least once; if you do, I implore you to stick with it to its conclusion.
I guarantee you will have never played anything like Immortality. It’s a compelling enigma, but one I am glad to have had the privilege to soak up and enjoy.
Immortality is available from the Xbox Store