We tried Immortality, an investigative game from the creator of Her Story, which breaks the mold and could easily surpass its predecessor.
When you consider the number of publishers and shows planned for June, it’s hard to think that the Tribeca Film Festivalcommonly an authority in the cinematographic field, can stand out in this curious orphaned era of E3, yet a few announcements were enough to make us immediately realize how refined was the selection of this year’s gaming section (an area that the organization also very recently started exploring seriously).
Clearly chosen for their creativity or for having curious artistic peculiarities, the titles of Tribeca Selection they captured our attention more than the entire night one of the Summer Game Festival managed to do, and this is even more striking when you consider that we are mostly talking about indie or projects with really small teams behind them.
The fact that a video game is not a super production does not mean, however, that it cannot have a rather heavy name behind it, and in the list offered we immediately spotted the good Sam Barlowauthor of the remarkable Her Story and present there with a new investigative game with similar connotations.
We could try Immortality for a good half hour, progressively captured more and more by his mysterious narrative: this is what we discovered.
The eternal artist
When we compared Immortality to Her Story the intent was not just to bring the two games together because of their use of real actors in the scenes: Barlow’s new work follows a similar structure to its “little brother” by offering the player a video series to analyze to make their way through the convoluted events around which everything revolves.
Not only that, once again the focus is on a single woman: a mysterious actress by name Marissa Marcel, suddenly selected to play the protagonist of a gothic film called Ambrosio and disappeared under unknown circumstances. Here, however, we are clearly not faced with the simple escape from society of an actress on the avenue of the sunset, since Miss Marcel has not only never been part of a film actually released in theaters, but also boasts a curious resistance to aging. In the game, in fact, you can see her struggling with three feature films lost in time, with the only connection of seeing her always protagonist and apparently devoid of the slightest sign of the time (which is curious to say the least since the first film dates back to 1968 and the last in ’99).
Unraveling the skein is made more complicated, of course, by the fact that the storytelling is not presented in a linear and chronologically precise manner. It starts from a list of movies and gets to the next ones by stopping them and interacting with the elements on the screen. Any “stand out” object or person in a scene leads to another video with direct links, and observing them in detail not only unlocks new threads of the information web, but begins to put together the pieces of the puzzle necessary to understand where the Miss Marcel.
And let me tell you: the mystery immediately becomes incredibly exciting. Barlow got the help of three writers to set it up and the care for each scene is undeniable. Each video is well acted, so much so that it gives the impression of really being a partial behind the scenes of a film, not to mention the presence of interviews, footage of the events surrounding each work, and the immense amount of links between a video and the other that can lead to other conclusions with a simple click in the right area.
Everything then flows at great speed, also due to the ability to easily control the time of each movie with the pad and to resume each video from where it was interrupted once passed to the next. We assure you that it doesn’t take long to look suspiciously at any figure interacting with Marissa in an atypical way, or even just photographs and objects in the background that may lead to new clues.
That wasn’t enough, the writing work seems once again quite brilliant, given that the films around which Marissa’s life revolves are two thrillers and a gothic novel, where there is no lack of clues and references to mystical elements which in the player’s imagination go well with the girl’s curious condition of “wrinkle immunity”. In short, there is clearly a mystery with enormous potential to unravel and Barlow’s work seems once again infallible in its ability to glue the player to the screen. That is enough for us to want to face this experience.
Even from a technical point of view, the game impressed us, but obviously not for the graphics, as it is a cauldron of films with real actors. No, what has left us stunned is the care put into each material: the videos dating back to the sixties and seventies are carefully retouched to seem pertinent to their era and each scene of a film is clearly inspired by the directorial choices of the cinematography of the epoch. Furthermore (and we find it very appreciable), the game does not hesitate in the least to propose itself to a exclusively mature audience and able to appreciate their subtleties, therefore he brings into play strong themes, violence and nude scenes, without apparently ever decontextualizing them (at least as far as we have had the opportunity to see at the moment). A bold choice that few developers dare to make today.
While following a structure that is only marginally different from that of Her Story, with Immortality Sam Barlow seems to have hit the mark again this time. His latest work is a mature and courageous detective title, which manages to glue the player to the screen almost immediately with his mysteries. Carefully curated and exciting, this interactive big movie (particularly suited to the Tribeca selection, to tell the truth) could easily surpass its “predecessor”, even if obviously the final quality of the story will make or undo the experience. What we have seen, however, inspires a lot of confidence.
- Mystery at the base full of potential and very well managed
- Great acting and great overall care
- Mature and courageous
- It is not currently possible to assess the overall quality of the story
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