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Immortality Review (PS5) – A Chilling Video Mystery

Immortality Review (PS5) – Immortality is the latest interactive experience from the mind of Sam Barlow.

If you know his name, then you are likely familiar with his previous projects. 2015’s Her Story and 2019’s Telling Lies both set the stage for what is likely Barlow’s most ambitious interactive film yet.

Immortality Review (PS5) – A Chilling Video Mystery


Viewer Beware

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At the top, I would like to call attention to the content warning that is found in the main menu. Players will find that Immortality frequently features nudity, sexual content, and scenes detailing abusive relationships.

The basis of Immortality is that Marissa Marcel, once considered a rising star, was an actor in three unreleased films. She mysteriously vanished after her final film.

Researchers have found her movies, as well as interviews and behind the scenes recordings, and compiled them all together so people can finally discover what happened to Marissa Marcel.

From the jump, Immortality is very different from any other game I have played. This is mostly because the only gameplay here to speak of is watching clips of Marissa or her co-stars, clicking on a person or object featured in the clip, and then being transported to another clip with that same person or object in it.

When you first begin the game, you are met with a large grid of every clip in the game. The tutorial shows you how to pick a clip and details all of the basic mechanics of the game in less than a minute. It then lets the player run free with only the clip that they initially chose and whatever clip that was unlocked during the tutorial.

Beyond this point, it is all up to the player.

This complete lack of direction from the game beyond the end goal led to some confusion in the early stages of my playthrough. However, as I continued on, I found that it only served to make the journey that much more rewarding in the end.

Immortality’s Unique Approach

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Immortality is not dissimilar to Sam Barlow’s previous games. They are all about discovering a secret with only the tools and clues that you have from the beginning. Immortality takes that formula and changes the perspective to that of someone going through an old film archive.

There is no exploring a world and discovering anything fresh when the leads run dry. Likewise, there is also no escaping from the story unraveling before your eyes, no matter how bleak things become.

Going through the clips left behind by Marissa Marcel and the many people she worked with was nothing if not a true roller coaster of emotions.

Witnessing Marissa’s rise from the beginning of her career through her final project brought up many more questions it answered. Many of these questions require the player to look within themselves for the answer, rather than giving one outright.

Many of these heavy questions are asked within Immortality’s many secret clips, which are how the story truly progresses. It was not until I had uncovered most of Marissa’s first film that I discovered their existence, however.

Even then it was only thanks to a gameplay mechanic that Immortality did not explain in its brief tutorial. Progress had slowed, and I noticed while scrolling through the film grid that some clips had a soft haptic buzz when scrolling over them. Then some came with a heavy bump in the controller, and others had no feedback at all.

Once I discovered that, the secrets and new clips both became much easier to discover at a much faster pace.

Immortality’s Performances Are Some Of The Best In Indie Games

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After these secret clips, I often found myself staring at the still images of the characters that were staring back at me.

Either through their actions or words, these clips always left me speechless for a moment. I pondered big picture questions, concerned for one of the characters, or left with a truly haunted feeling many times. This is, in large part, thanks to how the clips not being like your typical cutscenes.

The clips found in Immortality are not animated in a game engine, they are actors on camera. Due to this, there is nothing lost in the translation between their performances and what is seen in the game.

Immortality holds nothing back in terms of what it does with its characters. The range on display here by every actor involved is phenomenal. There was never a moment when I thought that the performances were anything less than exceptional.

I was fully engrossed in this world by these characters from start to finish. I found myself staying up until 2:30 in the morning saying “Just one more clip” because I wanted to see what came next, both in terms of presentation and the story.

Immortality will be available on PS5 on January 23, 2024.

Review code generously provided by the publisher.

Score

8

The Final Word

Immortality is a game that anyone interested in compelling narratives should check out. The story of Marissa Marcel and her journey from unknown model to rising star, and then her unexplained disappearance into pop-culture obscurity is one that will enthrall players and stick with you long after the credits have rolled.