Review of Immortality – A Most Unusual Camera

There’s a moment in Immortality movies where a restless, investigative protagonist falls down a rabbit hole and uncovers a shocking truth, something he thought he knew. The appeal of Immortality, like other Sam Barlow and Half Mermaid games, is that it casts the player in this intriguing role and unveils the ultimate. It’s borderline impenetrable at times, as both the basic A to B plot and its larger themes are far vaguer than the team’s previous puzzles. And yet, it is not really worse for him. Despite — and sometimes because of — the dizzying effect of falling down the rabbit hole, Immortality becomes another standout narrative. It’s similar in some important ways to its predecessor, Lying and Its Story, but also more thought-provoking, and certainly more disturbing than you might be prepared for.

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Writing this review has proven difficult because practically all of the game feels like a spoiler. I can point things out like the game is scarier than I thought it would be, but I can’t really tell you why. I could vaguely mention the dramatic plot twists, but given the fragmented timeline, you wouldn’t see some moments yourself unless I did. I can at least explain how the game works because if you’re experiencing a game from this small team for the first time, it’s going to feel completely alien.

Like lying and its story, things you think you understand will routinely be undermined by your knowledge as you continue to dig. Each context feels like the shocking end of a chapter in a great book. Is it a crime drama? A horror story? A love story? It’s a bit of all three — and more — at different times. It plays like most literature reads, in that it’s more concerned with its underlying themes than its plot.

Immortal’s wrong-answer approach to unraveling its many threads is perhaps less rewarding here than in past Half-Mermaid games, due to how confusing it is by the end. But it’s more disturbing for that reason and left me dwelling on what I saw versus what it wanted me to understand. I don’t think Immortal is intended to be a game that leaves players confused as to what happened, but since it has an endpoint, you can come to that conclusion with less explanation than anyone else. Who played the same number of hours?

The performances are stellar across the board, and by working with unknown actors, Half Mermaid cleverly keeps players from being distracted by recognizable faces. Marissa is said to have finally disappeared. The illusion of a mystery waiting to be solved doesn’t even work if it’s Anya Taylor-Joy playing the missing actor.

When you consider that each actor in the game is playing at most three or four characters throughout the timeline, it’s truly unlike anything else that’s been done in games before, even the first of the team. Even in the works. A common perception of live-action games is that they come off as weird half-movies, half-games that don’t do the medium justice. For the third time, Sam Barlow’s team defies that stereotype with a thoughtful script, stellar actors, and player-driven Pandora’s unboxing.

Review of Immortality - A Most Unusual Camera
Review of Immortality – A Most Unusual Camera

There are moments in this game that I can’t go into detail about, but they are the main reason I gave this game the high score you see below. The first time I came upon an example of a particular game mechanic, I jumped out of my seat with excitement to alert my wife that what I thought was immortality had changed dramatically in an instant. Even once I learned how the elixir worked, it continued to surprise me with what it would show me, what it would tell me, and best of all, what it would tell me. What would refuse, I was finally left to dwell on it long after it was discovered. Marisa’s fate.

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