Immortality - New fmv game from creator of Her Story and Telling Lies

I’m playing with mouse and keyboard but made the same discovery through the game’s excellent sound design. So good headphones are also recommended.

What an intriguing story-type thing! In spite of the good reviews and Game Pass availability, I still never tried Her Story or Telling Lies. But this game’s movie-buff angle was all I needed to jump in and see what this Sam Barlow character gets up to.

One other tip, don’t neglect to read the About section in the main menu. I played for many hours before noticing and reading that and it provides a good amount of context to help anchor the experience.

Yep, that’s also a really good point: read the “About” segment.

This is hardcore mode:

This game is WILD. Its like playing a David Lynch adventure. Do not read about it. Just go play it! It’s on gamepass btw.

YES, play this with xbox contorller on xbox… it totally adds to the game, as well play wth headphones (which i usually do anyway).

This game is very good… its like an uber version of her story… i didnt play the guys last game i will play that for sure now!

I haven’t played this yet, but I was just coming here to give this advice, which I heard on the Besties podcast and seemed like something folks might want to know!

What an incredible experience. Got to the credits last night, but going to carry on until I feel like I’ve uncovered everything. I can’t imagine anything moving this off my GOTY spot.

Go in knowing nothing. But if you’re on the fence, here’s a really great review from Consolevania, with no spoilers:

I liked it less the more I played, though it is very impressive in many ways. I still think Her Story is my favourite, though that may in part be because of the novelty. I just didn’t really care about the deeper story(ies) in this one, even though I found the individual movies engrossing in their own ways. And he still hasn’t really figured out how to solve the problem of making getting the last pieces of the puzzle interesting when you already know the outline. At least in Her Story it felt like you were doing quasi-detective work, which lessened the tedium of going through the same clips over and over.

Here’s a nifty thing I learned from watching some of the crew show up (invited) to a play-along stream of the game: the matte paintings used in the first Marissa Marcel movie are actual matte paintings from that cinematic era (late 1960s - mid 1970s) that they were able to find in a warehouse. The production designer said that as far as he/she was concerned, no one today that they could afford could even do credible imitations of the brushstroke style used in those mattes back in the day.

Also: the clicking of stuff in film images – not necessarily random. I asked and it was broadly hinted at that there’s some branching and gating going on.

Sure, I got that impression too. I just meant with my post above that it’s not a one-to-one relationship like I initially assumed. The same “cut” can take you to many clips.

As I attempt to 100% this game, I just stumbled into one of my favorite songs – a favorite cover version of a favorite song, to be precise.

And perfectly placed.

My enthusiasm and love of Immortality is feeling more and more like someone created a game for me.

Wow, so Happy Birthday by Marilyn Monroe is your favorite cover of your favorite song?!

Just in case that’s not a joke, I assume he means the other song, the one involving sweets*

* not really

I know what you mean, but this hasn’t bothered me yet. I wonder how it could be solved? I think that part of the point of the game is simulating the thrill of making discoveries, and I guess the semi-random nature of uncovering new clips is something you just have to abandon yourself to.

The ‘concordance’ feature seems intentionally vague and non-deterministic enough to allow the game to unlock revelations at certain points while still giving the illusion that you have stumbled onto something by chance. In the more deterministic discovery system of Her Story I think this was only possible by being incredibly careful with the scripts for each segment, and then there’s the high-wire act of there being nothing stopping the player stumbling over revelations and twists too early to be satisfying. The ‘tedium’ here might even be intentional, to heighten the excitement of finding something new - and the pacing of it is something I assume the game was tuned for - but I can imagine that being off-putting if you’re not invested enough in the overall story.

Yeah, it didn’t help.

Basically the frisson from the initial discovery of the supernatural stuff lasted about an hour, and then when I saw what it was doing it sucked all the fun of the mystery out of it for me. It became a statement about art/fame, which is fine, but not at all compelling as a mystery to unravel. What happened to Marissa? Whatever is necessary to say something about creativity. It also didn’t help that so many of the One/Other monologues were repeated.

There’s boring mechanistic stuff you could do. Say, after you roll credits you unlock a feature which tells you if there 's something new to discover in/via a given clip, or you lock down the mechanism so it only shows you new stuff if possible. But ultimately I think it’s a question of ensuring the player wants to discover everything and not getting in the way too much. That worked for me in Her Story, but by the end not so much in Telling Lies and Immortality. It was amazing for the first few hours though.

While I really liked this, Her Story is still my favorite, for a variety of reasons. The main one being that (spoilers!) I think supernatural “solutions” for mysteries are cheap storytelling, generally. I would have appreciated Immortality more if the One/Other One were metaphors for creation/art and control/law instead of actual supernatural beings.

Man, got way into this one. Happy it is on game pass, as it made it super easy to hop in. Once we finish this, definitely will have to pick up telling lies (I think it is on the console too?)

It works really great on controller, as there is rumbling that gives you a clue where to look.

The first time I reversed the film and found something hidden was… an A tier gaming moment.

Just rolled credits on this.

This mostly failed for me, in a similar way to Telling Lies. I don’t think it gives you an adequate goal to pursue, and the results of the choices you’re given (picking objects out of a still image from a scene) seem driven more by what the designers want you to see next than by any logic of the choice you’ve made. E.g, There’s clearly a list of “lamp” scenes, and a bunch of lamps scattered around the clips, such that I can’t get excited about selecting this or that lamp. The next scene will either be one I’ve seen, or it’ll be a new one, but it won’t be because I made a good choice. Effectively arbitrary in a majority of cases.

The hidden sequences are very effective, especially the first few you see. They’re shot with a quality that makes them stand out and feel more “present” than the movie scenes. A lot of it is the direct eye contact from The One and Other. They implicate the player, clearly very intentionally. Finding the first one was a cool experience. Eventually, finding the ones that are just overlayed silent sequences felt more frustrating than exciting. If these were meant to tell me something, or provoke me to do something in particular, I never figured out what it was. I also never figured out who The One and The Other are or what they were doing in the story. I don’t know if that’s Lynchian ambiguity, or me missing the point (or maybe some key clip).

Speaking of the story, there was a clear thematic thread about men stealing women’s work in creative industries (Marissa clearly was at least as big of a creative force behind the later movies as the director) and I expected it to be at the center of the fates of many of the characters, but from what I saw it wasn’t. If it was in there and I missed it, then they rolled credits too early. Which is totally possible: I don’t understand at all why/how Marissa was hurt/died in the end. I also still don’t know why the first film was never released. And the problem is, if there are answers to those questions and I want to find them, then I have to just go back and start pulling on random threads–let’s try these curtains! what about her hand in this position? maybe this blood stain will be different…–until I see something new. That has very little appeal.

I have other complaints that are pretty typical for FMV, even though overall I think this is a modest step forward for the genre:

  • The acting isn’t up to professional grade, especially the main actress. She’s good at a lot of points, but her co-stars (even the side parts) are often better, and don’t feel like they’re trying so hard.
  • The wigs. OH THE WIGS. The story depended so much on them; they really needed to do better.
  • Young actors don’t know how to smoke cigarettes anymore, do they? I guess I will consider this a net positive, but boy it took me out of some scenes.
  • The sex scenes were incredibly cringey. This is about the hardest thing to pull off, I’m sure, but if you don’t have the talent, maybe don’t try.

There’s still a lot of cool stuff going on in the game, I just wish I had gotten more out of it.

Hey, I saw Barry Gifford’s name in the writing credits, but didn’t quite believe it was the same Barry Gifford who co-wrote Lost Highway! But indeed it is! Wonder how much of a role he had.

I have to hard disagree with all of the stuff about the acting, I thought it was excellent throughout, especially the lead parts.

I think is pretty much how I felt by the end as well.

The whole “immortal beings that take over peoples bodies” thing is pretty disappointing, especially considering how well made the rest of the game is. Also the blood effects they used in a few of their scenes are really cheesy. Still, I think the game was definitely worth playing.

On the most recent Giant Bombcast, they discuss this game a bit. Jess says that she thinks it’s the same gimmick as Her Story all over again, but I don’t really understand why she thinks that. I think Her Story’s gameplay is a bit tighter, but Immortality was more enjoyable overall.

I think there are plenty of things to nitpick about, but the overall design and scripting of everything in it is really great. I can’t imagine how long it took to write, design, and shoot everything in the videos. Also, I found it very interesting how different items were incorporated into the films in creative ways.