Immortality Review – Cutting Room Flaws

Immortality Review - Cutting Room Flaws

I’m ashamed to say that I missed Immortality when it first launched in 2022, and I had no real excuse with the game launching on a range of platforms, mobile, and even Xbox Game Pass. The game was adored by many due to its multi-layered, secret-laden narrative, and incredibly dark streaks. Delivering its plot in ways that few other games do, and certainly not to this expansive of a level, Sam Barlow’s latest interactive adventure is likely to break your brain just as much as it can irritate in its lack of quality game elements. 

First and foremost, Immortality is a narrative-heavy experiene, but lite-on for traditional gameplay elements. Players are quickly introduced to model-turned-actress Marissa Marcel (played by Manon Gage), the star of three mysteriously unreleased films developed over decades. The star of 1968’s Ambrosio, 1970’s Minsky, and 1999’s Two Of Everything, Marcel is the common thread in an intriguing plot that aims to explain why these films never eventuated. Marcel herself is a mystery as her whereabouts across decades are one of the game’s greatest mysteries, but as players begin to compile each of the pieces of footage an assemble them, an intriguing sub-plot begins to emerge that runs deeper than the Marcel line, deeper than the mystery of the three unreleased films, and breaks the fourth wall on multiple occasions as the stories of ‘The One’ and ‘The Other’ begin to emerge. 

The process of uncovering this plot is relatively easy to comprehend but can be an almighty challenge to execute to a point of complete success; it requires the player to scan through every piece of footage, some that are 10 seconds in length, others than span more than a minute, and find connecting threads to other strands of time. At any time players have the ability to pause the playback of a clip, examine it for people, whether they be actors or supporting staff, props, furniture and more. These are the pieces of connective tissue that bridge each film gradually placing you closer to the the truth behind Marissa’s disappearance and the fates of others involved in the trio of films. It can be slow going at times as players are manipulating footage, scrubbing forwards, backwards, frame-by-frame, whilst combing through for something they’d not previously engaged with. Making it easier is the fact that Marissa is a feature of every film and many of the different clips making her a bridge to a lot of new content. Others perform similar roles helping to break the back of job early before the crush of finding the remaining footage becomes more like a chore. What does emerge throughout are some quirks in the footage and it’s engaging with these works that leads to secrets and opportunity for th e larger mysteries to surface. 

As a playing experience, especially with a controller in hand, Immortality can be a bit clunky to handle. The game is much better suited to mobile platforms in its handling, and the UI for the different sorting and filtering options that you have available are a bit vague and limited. Sifting through clips does feel haphazard at times, with it feeling quite random as to where a selected point of interest will direct you. In my experience I had gone through many clips multiple times, and found myself being redirected to those same clips until all of sudden I wasn’t and I hit something new which drove the plot forward from there. At times the game can have a habit of getting in its own way.

What propels the game to astounding heights though is the acting, especially that of Manon Gage. The performances, especially considering that each segment is so bite-sized and divorced from other relevant scenes. Manon’s performance as Marissa Marcel, as well as the roles that Marissa herself is playing, are superb. She is supported by an exceptional cast who all leverage their exceptional talents for the benefit of Barlow’s ingenious narrative. 

The secrets of Immortality run deep, the narrative complex, and the acting is fantastic, and while it’s not a perfect playing experience due to some less-than-ideal UI elements and occasionally imprecise handling when scanning videos, Barlow’s latest is undoubtedly his best yet. There’s so much that can’t be said for spoiler purposes, but rest assured, whether you were there at launch, or are late to the party, the exercise of exploring Immortality is well and truly worth it.

Immortality was reviewed on PS5 with a code kindly provided by PopAgenda.

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