Immortality Review – A Mysterious FMV Game about Film Itself

Immortality game screenshot, Marissa
Immortality Review – A Mysterious FMV Game about Film Itself
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Platforms: Microsoft Xbox, Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Immortality

Publisher: Half Mermaid

Developer: Sam Barlow, Half Mermaid

Genre: Adventure, Simulation

Release Date: August 30th, 2022

Immortality by Half Mermaid

There are a lot of questions surrounding the career and life of Marissa Marcel. The first film she was ever in was never released. The second film she starred in was never finished because of an on-set incident. Then she disappeared off the face of the earth to star in a new film 20 years later. Following that, she was never heard from or seen again. In Immortality, it’s up to the player to find answers and uncover the mystery surrounding Marissa Marcel.

Immortality game screenshot, Cliffside

Clip Show

The main mechanics of this game involve watching video clips from all three of Marissa’s films. During these clips, the player is able to pause at any time to click on any object or person within a scene. Once you click on an object, it takes you to another clip with that same object or something similar. For example, a glass of water might take you to another glass of water from a different film. Clicking on an actor takes you to a random clip of that actor. An apple will randomly cycle through the movie clips which have apples in them as well as clips that have fruit like orange or cucumber slices. It’s a neat mechanic and an intuitive one. It’s really fun to use and discover clips in this fashion. It’s an impressive mechanic that seems like it must have been a headache to program.

Immortality’s other important mechanic involves rewinding and fast-forwarding. This is also essential to finding crucial clues to uncover more of the game’s narrative. This mechanic is also intuitive, as it’s so seamless to fast-forward and reverse at different speeds, making it easier to pinpoint the exact frame to click on certain objects. I do highly recommend you play using a controller, as it’s easier to fast-forward and rewind at different speeds.

Show, Don’t Tell

Unlocking both behind-the-scenes clips and scenes from the movies themselves uncovers more narrative threads. There are a couple of small mysteries connected to the bigger main narrative. There are plenty of clips to find and sift through that may or may not be useful in fleshing out the game’s narrative threads.

At times I did feel like I wasn’t pushing the narrative forward or unlocking important clips. Since clicking on people or objects took me to a random clip, the game often took me to the same clips over again. And since there isn’t much of an indicator of progression, it at times felt a bit discouraging. The only indicator of unlocking clips was found when I checked out the game’s achievements. I feel like this area of the game could have been more forgiving towards more casual players, or at least given a checklist or more indicators of what has been discovered and what’s left to be unlocked.

Immortality game screenshot, Zoom In Gif

Room for Interpretation

Without spoiling things I can safely say that some narrative threads are less fulfilling than others. Not all your questions will be answered, and there is a lot of room to come up with your own interpretations of certain details and scenes. The main underlying narrative becomes the most engaging, while the other mysteries, despite being connected to the main narrative, feel less fulfilling. This means that your enjoyment will depend on whether you find the main narrative interesting or not.

That is something that I struggled with. While I personally was engaged throughout, your experience may vary. Your interpretation of the game’s narrative may feel less fulfilling since not everything is unlocked in a linear way. Everyone’s experience will be different. And even though I combed through the game, nearing 100 percent of clips unlocked, I still had some unanswered questions, so your enjoyment and understanding of the game will depend heavily on how much time you put into it.

What made this more of an issue is that I reached the credits well before unlocking all the clips and getting a clearer picture of the game’s narrative. It’s possible to reach the credits and think that that’s all there is to see when in actuality it could very well just be the beginning. I understand that the developers wanted to have credits roll when just enough of the narrative was uncovered, but this decision feels like it could underwhelm a number of players.

Silver Screen Gold

Aesthetically, Immortality is one of the best FMV games ever made. The acting is great across the board, while set design and writing feel authentic. For the most part, these three films feel like they could actually be real films. The big-budget feel of Ambrosio gives it a classic Hollywood film aura. Minsky is a grimy, violent, taboo, and salacious film that feels like it’s straight out of the ’70s. Two of Everything comes across as a low-budget, early 2000s-era film that you’d randomly find on an online movie streaming service. It’s meticulous, well-produced, and truly impressive. It’s such a love letter to film and so incredibly pulled off.

Immortality game screenshot, Scene Grid

I also must mention the game’s superb audio design. The ambient score that runs in the background fades in and out at appropriate times, getting quiet while movie clips play and increasing in volume while fast-forwarding through clips. It’s also a very film noir-inspired, slightly unnerving musical score. It’s so effective at creating an enthralling experience.

Fix It in Post

One aspect of Immortality that disappointed me was its performance issues. Subtitles for scenes would disappear until I rewfound the clips. I had the game freeze three times as well as completely locking up my computer twice. Even playing on my Xbox Series S, the game crashed six times over the course of a couple hours. These issues are a shame, and even though they aren’t game-breaking, they are noticeable. The developers are continuing to patch the game to fix these issues.

Issues with performance and narrative aside, I really enjoyed my time with Immortality. Its narrative themes and creativity make it stand out. Innovative and engaging gameplay made for a worthwhile experience. If you’re looking for something uniquely different from most other games out there, you’d be hard-pressed to find another experience quite like this one.

Immortality is available via the Microsoft Store, Steam, and GOG.

Check out the official trailer for Immortality below:

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