That’s one of my issues, too: Barlow’s games would benefit from just a tad more guidance and communication of goals. One reason Her Story worked better than the others is that you were looking for words mentioned in a clip that you haven’t searched yet. A new word was a potential new discovery that could lead you to new clips and so on. (I guess Telling Lies worked this way too? But the clips were longer, the story was bigger, and I thought the connections were harder to see.)
In Immortality, the whole web of connections is softer and fuzzier. There’s a lot of, say, lamps in a lot of scenes and they can lead to any other lamp, and I don’t have any sense of why I went where I did. I don’t know when I’ve exhausted a “search term” like “lamp.” In Her Story, I see how many clips connect to it and I know when I’ve plumbed each bucket of content. Immortality is just an ocean with currents that whorl me around and around, basically without my control, and I don’t really know how much progress I’m making.
I assume the idea is to just go with the flow and enjoy seeing more and more of the story (and finding the hidden clips within clips). But that’s asking a lot of players, when you’re not giving them any sense of their progress or aims.
Here’s a quick, non-spoilery primer for how to get from baffled to “Feeling lost-ish, but now I know what I’m supposed to be doing, sort of…”
In the main menu, read the “About” section. This will not spoil you. It will give you necessary information about the background of what is going on. The game absolutely needs to highlight that more than it does.
In the tutorial, the first clip you can watch is Marissa Marcel doing a “Tonight Show”/Joe Franklin show hybrid. Although the tutorial wants you to do some stuff (go ahead), come back ASAP to watch that clip all the way through. Again, no spoilers, but it sets your feet on a path into the forest at least.
When you “Match-cut” from scene to scene to add clips to your clip library, realize that that you may be dropped into the beginning of the clip, the end of the clip, or somewhere inbetween. Do not forget to go to the beginning of each clip, especially new clips. I have nearly 20 hours into the game, and I still sometimes forget to go to the beginning of clips.
If you can at all, try to play the game with a haptic controller, like a gamepad that does rumbles. No reason. Just mildly helpful.
Finally, when playing, know that this game – like Barlow’s other games – is directly influenced by British writer JG Ballard. I stumbled onto this passage from Ballard (and quoted by Barlow) on social media just about the time I had started playing this game. It actually helped settle my overly narrative-anxious, gamified mind, and made me feel like “Oh, I’m playing this correctly, even though I’m probably playing it differently than others, who are probably all playing it differently than one another.”
Oh, the JG Ballard connection is interesting. Though… I think I often feel as underwhelmed by Ballard’s work as Barlow’s! (To be fair, there is one Ballard story that has stuck with me for thirty years.)
For whatever it’s worth, I did all four of the things you recommend, and still consider Immortality an unsatisfying game, although I’m still mostly glad I played it, for its unique aspects. But I agree that’s all good advice for finding your way into the story. (Does make me wonder if I missed something in the talk show clip, though, because it seemed to me to be way too long and uncharacteristic of a clip to start with…)
The match cutting really is just a means to get more scenes discovered, some of which are important, many are not.
Figuring out exactly what to do and when to rewind/fast-forward clips to uncover things is the real game, and once I figured that out, I had so many other clips to go back to re-watch.
I thought it was great, but I was getting to the point of… what should I be doing just about when I figured it out. Having a controller helped a lot in figuring that out.
My first thought was, when things were getting loud/vibration-y, it was at that point I should pause and find something to click on to match cut, not “you should be reversing this part to pop in a new clip” The first time I did that, probably by accident, it was so cool, and it was the very creepy scene where the one walked up into the screen.
Into my second playthrough, this time to see EVERY little thing. No compromises. :)
This seems like a normal way to play (blurred for very, very mild spoilers):
I mean, who doesn’t keep a spreadsheet and notepad++ going at all times while playing a videogame? ;) (Sam Barlow has made a game for people who like to obsess over stuff like this – and he says that was a goal – then
I am happy to fully engage my obsess-o-meter.)
Also, now that I’m into my second playthrough and have about 30+ hours in this thing, I’m amused by definitive pronouncements in reviews and elsewhere on the internet about what the game is “about”. Because it is maybe a little about whatever that person says it’s about…but it’s also about lots of other things, somehow all at once.
You gotta share any big revelations with us!
What I did to build my “pre-play” spreadsheet was to use the tutorial. In that tutorial, they show you a fully-filled out (maybe) film grid, and you can scroll through all the clip thumbnails. And now I’ve got them catalogued so I can mark them off as I find them and can take notes on them by clip name and such.
And yeah, when I finish I plan to write many, many probably boring words about this. :D
Also a thing I somehow missed until now:
Amy, the character in the game-movie “Two Of Everything” is played by none other than Jocelin Donahue. Yeah, that Jocelin Donahue, from House of the Devil. I kept thinking she looked so familiar to me…
In case anyone else was waiting for the Netflix release (Android and iOS) it kind of happened under the radar in mid-November? Anyways, downloaded it on my phone, although note that when you first open it and log in there’s the usual additional download for assets. Not sure if it’ll displace Slice and Dice as my mobile go-to though…
The interface on the mobile netflix version took some getting used to for me when I tried it out. But it works well enough, after a fashion.
Any tips on getting out of the midgame here?I’ve enjoyed this and found a lot of interesting clips and hidden stuff, but it’s starting to devolve into aimless wheel spinning visiting the same clips over and over again trying to find something new to click on.
(Game structure spoiler) I don’t believe there is a specific clip you must see to trigger the ending, but rather a count of how many hidden clips you’ve seen, so random browsing is still okay.
(Hidden mechanic spoiler) Have you searched the hidden clips for hidden clips?
So, at least playing on controller there was some force feedback to help me notice when things were needing to be investigated, otherwise there is a sound cue of about when you should start looking around for clues.
There was a period where I was jumping around not knowing where to find something new, and then I noticed when the rumble was happening it was not telling me to find something to click on that scene, but to move the video back and forth during that moment until I found something.
But, if you are really stuck, to unlock secrets you need to find specific sections to run in reverse to get something to trigger, the sound cue/rumble guide you on this
Thanks guys. Yeah, I figured out that part already, and have seen 100+ clips and a couple dozen hidden clips accessed by rewinding, and at least one set where I went multiple layers deep within a hidden clip.
So it sounds like I’m on the right track and am hopefully close to stumbling on whatever triggers the end. Just gotta keep clicking around more, I guess.
Dunno if it will help, but here’s a link to my spreadsheet tracker.
Caution, that sheet will be very spoilery for anyone who hasn’t spent at least a few hours in the game, which it sounds like you already have. But it could help you to know which clips you might be missing from with areas.
Have we talked about, or even mentioned, the pedigrees of the writers on this?
So for the first movie, Ambrosio, Sam Barlow adapted it himself, from an actual scandalous 1796 gothic novel called The Monk, by MG Lewis. OK.
For the other two movies, which Barlow farmed out to other writers, the instruction was specific: write an actual full-length screenplay, and I’ll figure out how we’ll do it.
So for Minsky, the screenwriter is Allan Scott, the longtime collaborator of Nicolas Roeg. Yes, that Nicolas Roeg. Scott wrote the screenplay for Don’t Look Now (the notorious 1973 film with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie and red raincoats), The Witches, Cold Heaven, Two Deaths, etc. Oh yeah. He’s also the co-creator of The Queen’s Gambit.
So that’s a get.
And the final movie is apparently based on an unreleased work by longtime David Lynch cohort Barry Gifford, with writing punch-up done by Mr. Robot and Gaslit writer Amelia Gray.
For most of my first playthrough, I was thinking “Huh. It’s pretty crazy that they got lucky enough to have three decent scripts to work from for these fake movies.” Turns out, there’s not so much luck involved at all. They definitely brought the talent here.
Wow! That’s totally shocking. And yet, not at all. Thanks for the info.
I didn’t know Allan Scott’s name, but I saw Barry Gifford’s name in the credits and had to look up and confirm that, yes, it’s Lost Highway etc’s, Barry Gifford. I brought it up in my final thoughts post. It is fitting, even though that particular film is the one that I had the hardest time grasping the plot and point of.
All right, just started this one up earlier today, my little palate cleanser after Callisto Protocol. As with most of Barlow’s stuff, I feel totally at sea, but I will do as I’ve done in the other two games, push forward and hope things fall into place. I have definitely noticed one or two … oddities so far, but I don’t know what to make of them. Still, it’s caught my attention and I’ll see what it leads me.
This is part of a write up I’m doing on the game, but I’ll post it here, in case it’s helpful for anyone.
There are no spoilers here – just some foundational stuff so you’ll at least have some idea where to swim to in the game.
Read the content warning. If that’s going to put you off, that’s totally cool. Don’t force yourself to go through game content that is going to upset you.
Read the “About” in the main menu. I hate that this information feels hidden there, but it will give you background on Marissa Marcel and her career, as well as just some foundational stuff on the three movies. It’s meant to be read before you take on the game, so if you haven’t, go read that.
If you can, try playing on a system that lets you use a gamepad controller. If you can’t do that, mouse and keyboard are fine, and a good 2nd choice. Failing that – if you’re playing the Netflix games version on mobile…well, good luck. I’m sure you’ll get used to the interface? Probably?
Everyone who starts the game starts with the same film clip. Although the tutorial will have you “match-cut” out of it, I strongly urge you to go back and watch it fully if you have not already. Again, good foundational information can be found there.
When you match-cut to other clips, be aware that you are often dropped into the new clip in the middle, and sometimes even at the end of the clip. Get in the habit of going to the beginning of every new clip and watching it forward.
Finally, maybe this is slightly spoilery so I’ll blur it (but I don’t think it’s spoilery, really): in the end, if you dig deeply enough, it all makes sense. Really really.