Immortality Review: An Experimental Bridge Between Movies and Video Games

At 2 a.m. on a Thursday, I’m vibrating at my computer in the dark, my face bathed in the sanitizing glow of His story the new game from creator Sam Barlow, Immortality. On screen, the camera is focused hard on the flawless porcelain complexion of forgotten actress Marissa Marcel (played by Manon Gage), who is nude and bathed in a warm, almost hellish light. “Are you ready for a satanic fuck?” she asks her, going off script and eliciting a raucous laugh from her off-screen crew. While I’m not quite in the market for it, I am willing to get fucked by the unpredictable magic of the movies.

it didn’t take long for Immortality to bring me back to my television work period. I spent the summer before college as a teenage intern dubbing tapes in tiny rooms full of VCRs, watching editors disappear into Avid suites like cocoons where they spent hours reviewing raw material (Avid technology replaced Moviola machines, of which Immortality draw his scrubbing mechanics). There was something enchanting and mysterious about watching: standing outside this enigmatic black box where something went in and something new but familiar came out. It’s equally frustrating and fascinating, then, to have spent 22 hours immersed in Immortality and still feel desires; For days, in the time since I played the game, every accessory, wig, and gesture lived in my head like it was my handiwork.

Immortality revolves around Marcel, who, according to the game’s fiction, was taken out of an audition of thousands by a prominent director in the 1960s. He made three films: ambrose (1968), Minsky (1970), and two of everything (1999). Neither was released, and she disappeared. The game is presented as special software designed to showcase Marcel’s recently discovered work, allowing fans to analyze behind-the-scenes footage and clips of him. The essence is to use coincident cuts (transitional cuts between objects with similar themes or structural compositions) to explore Marcel’s films and find out what happened to him. For example, clicking on a feline sculpture in Minsky jump to images of the cat in two of everything; an abstract figure painting could lead to a mask or the face of an actor. “Successful” match cuts and their subsequent reveals will unlock new clips.

A scene selector in Immortality

Image: Half Mermaid Productions via Polygon

ambrose is a giallo-style sex thriller adapted from the (real) gothic novel The monk, with magnificent backgrounds painted in matt. in black crime MinskyMarcel follows the example of the disheveled Jane Fonda in klute, adopting the same wily, nervous demeanor that ensnares her straight-laced detective love interest. And in two of everything, plays both a world-famous pop star and his body double, whose shared life is irrevocably destroyed. With a few clicks on the right hotspots, I can quickly go from witty Marcel in a novice monk robe to an older, world-weary Marcel (who hasn’t aged a day) in Doc Martens.

From the start, I pour torrents of energy into dissecting every scene and bit of subtext. My initial Type A reaction is to take copious color-coded notes on all three movies. after watching ambroseThe obvious equivalent of Alfred Hitchcock, Arthur Fischer, I contemplate digging up my old Truffaut and Spoto books from a college film class I barely remember. An interview in which Fischer has his hand placed around the back of Marcel’s head screams “celebrity author grooming young lady.” After seeing enough of Minsky Y two of everything, I note paranoid speculation about Marcel’s director, John Durick. I spin incoherent theories based on Brecht, Baudrillard, Heidegger and tediously scrutinize the theatrical relationship between material reality, performance and process. I go down a rabbit hole of German Expressionist costumes and forget what I’m looking for. Finally, I look down and see that I’ve almost succeeded in reverse engineering the scripts for all three movies. In short, I have achieved absolutely nothing. I’m Charlie Day, crafting a conspiracy theory that spans decades.

When I finally realize what I need to do, without giving away too much, is to be strategically adept with the scrubbing mechanics, I navigate through the rest of Immortality on a feverish mission to find hidden images. The meta-story of the game is an attempt to distillate the most prominent themes of Marcel’s films: identity, sacrifice, duality, and the dialectical relationship between Art and Order. (Sometimes, it’s more of a gnostic.) Most things feel important and connected, because Immortality it’s exceptionally good at creating layers of complexity while hiding a very simple (and after a certain point, predictable) truth about the way humans create myths. Even when I was going crazy Immortality I just wouldn’t get out of my head. I can’t say that I loved the time I spent searching for Marissa Marcel, but I love wholeheartedly how well she integrated the player into the visualization and filmmaking processes.

A crew member starts a scene in Immortality.

Image: Half Mermaid Productions via Polygon

Towards the “end game” (which doesn’t really apply to this experimental structure), Immortality begins to lose its shine. Once you can (mostly) answer the question What happened to Marissa Marcel? reviewing clips becomes more of a chore than a pleasure. But since the game takes place through the vehicle of the movie, there is an innate need to “complete” each movie, because it’s the only way we can conceive of fully experiencing or knowing a movie. My enthusiasm begins to wane after skimming through scenes that I’ve already reviewed dozens of times.

I manage to get a few more gems out, but after a certain point, endless clicking offers diminishing returns. From a practical standpoint, my rhythmic search for untested match cuts starts to slow down simply because I’ve run out of objects. To his credit, like the repressive weight of a cat’s paw on my arm, Immortality it gently suggests that perhaps I have seen enough, which means drawing a line and accepting the limits of what I have learned. Since this is a game that draws so much attention to the process, it makes sense that it would be somewhat mindful of how monotonous it can be.

What Immortality does exceptionally well is reconciling my lifelong love of sumptuous period drama, an unqualified commitment to stylish production values ​​(yes, I love all the wigs), and a very specific brand of slow, neurotic mystery. Immortality I felt most alive in the moments when I was looking for crumbs, even when I was trying out the most obvious combinations of Film 101 symbolism for coincidence cuts. When I finally found the scene showing what happened to the “real” Marissa Marcel, she raised far more questions than she answered, while also reminding me that resolutions are simply constructions. However, my biggest source of frustration was the tonal disconnect between the meta-story and the three movies. Even when Immortality He tried to avoid overexposure, his lengthy digressions into the backstory feeling, somehow, like a betrayal, or at least great self-ownership. After all, he wanted to find Marissa Marcel. (On a minor practical note, he wasn’t a big fan of minimalist UI filters – the “movie” and “image” ones go without saying, but I still have no idea what the third funnel-type icon does.)

A movie scene in a graveyard in Immortality

Image: Half Mermaid Productions via Polygon

Due to its non-linear storytelling, Immortality it has no real approach to closure, something I’ve come to respect, considering how conditioned we are to expect some kind of ending, no matter how unsatisfying or abrupt. After becoming useless froth in solving the Marissa Marcel problem and becoming fluent in the visual language of the game, I had arrived at the impenetrable black box. I take my hat off to Immortality by how insidiously it deconstructs our collective expectations about what matters most conclusion. I started out totally ignorant, and ended up wholeheartedly fulfilling my destiny as a devoted fan of Marissa Marcel, even though it happens two of everything in a straw wig that makes Elizabeth Holmes look like a Pantene commercial.

Finally walking away feels like wrapping up my own role in this strange theatre, even though I couldn’t uncover every bit of footage or get the subtext and meaning out of every scene. Sometimes a cat is just a cat. Sometimes a gargoyle is just a little statue. Immortality knows how much you want to know more, and leans on your hunger.

By exploiting this thirst for knowledge like a fan like authority and authenticity — even if it occasionally undermines the narrative — the game also creates an easy choice for the curious outsider: Play or not. Immortality embodies the most appealing features of the “if you know, you know” meme: no quick summary for a politely interested stranger that can adequately sum up the question What happened to Marissa Marcel? The only way to fully appreciate the scope of this project, flaws and all, is to jettison all expectations of story and structure, and realize that the simplistic division between movies and games prevents us from doing much more. with either one. medium.

Immortality It will launch on August 30 on Windows PC, Mac, Xbox Series X, iOS, and Android. The game was reviewed on PC using a preliminary download code provided by Half Mermaid Productions. Vox Media has affiliate associations. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. You can find additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.

Leave a Comment