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

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

I’ve got a few more hours clocked into this thing, and my short description would be that I’m at least as lost as I was when I started. I gather from glancing at some posts above that others feel, or felt, similarly during the game. But I’m not really frustrated by the feeling, I’m enjoying the simple act of thumbing through all these scenes and trying to form them into a cohesive whole. Except that I’m really trying to form them into three cohesive wholes, which will then coalesce into an entirely new whole that tells its own story. I think. I can’t go much further without digging into spoilers, so into the block it goes:

So I’ve found some ‘hidden’ embedded scenes, or characters. Mostly just the one character, the woman who appears frequently and says something that I can’t hear and that don’t show up in subtitles. And then just in the last day or so I found entire embedded scenes with her in which she addresses the camera and speaks. And does other things too - in one scene, the lead actor of Ambrosio is miming stabbing a painting with a fake knife when she appears in front of him, then he begins actually stabbing her with a real knife. Then she takes the knife from him and murders him. Except not really, because he is present in scenes that appear chronologically. So I am left wondering who this person, this evidently supernatural being, is and what she has to do with everything else. I’m not sure what she has to do with Marisa or with what happened to her. Guess I’ll just keep going.

Getting back to that whole three movies in one game thing, my brain keeps wanting to stick to one movie at a time, try to piece them together independently, but the game doesn’t want me to do that - picking an image and hopping across scenes will frequently, in fact more often than not I think, hop me to a different movie entirely. Which I have to follow through, search back and forth, looking at hot spots. I do have a feeling for what each movie is about, though I don’t totally grasp the sequential story of any of them. Once again, I have to trust the process I guess, go with the flow.

But I do like it, so far it seems more interesting than the previous two Barlow games I played, and I enjoyed them both quite a bit. I’m hoping the payoff is also heightened, I’m certainly curious to see where things go.

Regarding The One, you should always be able to hear her speak, which in fact is how you start to learn a lot more about what’s happening in the game.

Well, I don’t know - it seems to me that there are two different types of appearances by this other woman. The one I see most often is black and white, usually superimposed over the film I’m watching. Sometimes she just smiles or seems to be watching the movie with me, but occasionally I can see her lips moving but I can’t hear what she’s saying. These are usually quite short too, only a few seconds. The other type though, she seems to ‘take over’ the film for a little while, not superimposed at all but within the movie and usually speaking either to me or to the other characters though they never seem to react. I’m not sure if that’s an actual distinction, just how it appears to me.

Yep, Those are the two main types of hidden footage. But the scenes with here in black and white (on a black background) her talking isn’t supposed to be silent. So that’s weird. She’s absolutely providing exposition in those bits.

All right, maybe I need to fiddle with my sound settings. Or play with a headset.

Well, I don’t think there is any place where she is talking where you can’t hear it. This is the exposition you uncover by jumping around clip to clip.

There are often small glimpses of her that you need to properly scrub (rewind/fast forward) the footage to get to the “clip under the clip” as I would say.

Yeah, I don’t know how to properly describe the scrubbing motion, but if I varied the rewind speed once I got into the glimpse of the mystery woman it felt like a stubborn transmission would finally engage and the clip would take center stage with a visual and audio cue.

Exactly. It took me a while to figure out that too, but the idea is, if you are using the tools to rewind/fast forward to find the exact frame, it will likely work out for you finding stuff.

I did wind up sticking with this long enough to finish it. Glad to have played it overall, though the last couple of hours were the weakest as it took longer and longer between finding each new clip as the number I hadn’t seen yet dwindled.

I definitely had some weird sound glitches in this game, where I’d just hear background music in a scene that was supposed to have dialogue. But pausing and restarting the footage usually fixed it.

I found it annoyingly inconsistent at first, using the triggers to adjust speed. But I found that holding down left on the d-pad to go frame by frame triggered the transition reliably.

Well crap: I’ve been doing it all wrong. It’s not the sound at all.

Apparently the little overlaid scenes I’ve been seeing are a type of ‘teaser’, I guess you’d say, a thing to draw your attention and let you know you need to fiddle around at that spot. I’ve already found several embedded scenes-within-a-scene, but these are different: like I said, they’re in black and white, at least initially but sometimes completely. And the catch is you can’t just run the tape back and find them, you’ve got to pause on just the exact frame and work from there. It is usually fairly simple but sometimes a little tricky finding that exact frame, especially if the scene is short. So now I need to go back and scrub all the scenes I’ve already found, joy.

Anyway, as to the actual content, I think I’ve learned a lot. And evidently I found out what happened Marissa, which came about quite randomly and unsettlingly, but I’ll come back to that. First though, I’ve discovered that there are two of these odd little entities lurking around within the movies. I came across the second one randomly (which is how things usually work for me with Mr Barlow’s movies). So I worked back from this new guy to discover more about who they are, what they do. Kind of funny, I assumed when I first heard about the game that the ‘immortality’ of the title was figurative, the immortality of the silver screen, but no there are actual immortal beings out there, and they prey on us. Just as they seem to have done to poor Marissa. And, I gather, used her up over the course of her movie career until they couldn’t anymore, and then they … torched her? I dunno, that was kind of a context-less scene, but ding! I got the achievement telling me that yes, this was Marissa’s fate so, huh.

But I’m still looking at scenes, because I still only have about 50% of each of the movies’ scenes so far. Not sure where else this is going to take me or what mysteries are left to uncover, but it’s at least interesting seeing things play out so I’ll see it through.

Well then, apparently I “finished” the game without ever figuring out that those ethereal, silent B&W overlays indicate extra-hidden clips. I only ever found the ones that you got by going backwards when you felt the buzz in the controller. I put hours in, but that wasn’t enough to learn how the game actually worked, I guess. For me, at least, Barlow still hasn’t improved on Her Story.

You say this as if the game offers no clues as to how this works. And I think Immortality offers abundant clues about this aspect of how it plays and reveals its story.

The game’s interface gives the player plenty of clues when they happen upon one of those black and white scenes. They fade in and out and even play back a bit faded in and out (and change the degree to which they fade in/fade out) depending on the variability of how you fast or slow you scrub. As a player, this told me that I could get a clearer and clearer view of those clips as I adjusted the rate I was scrubbing them, where I started scrubbing them, etc. And then…boom. A the hidden clip locks in and The One is talking and there are subtitles, etc. And now I know to do that going forward.

And that variability in playback scrubbing works the same for the clips in which The One and the Other One insert themselves at times as it does for the black and white single appearances. So if you’ve learned that mechanic to see the other clips – where they present themselves within the set as a character in the scene – then as a player I’ve intuitively learned that where I start the scrub and the rate at which I scrub will be how I get those hidden clips to lock in and play.

I fiddled with a few of those moments when I first encountered them. Once or twice, I could tell that they changed in some way, but I had no idea what I did that caused it and I couldn’t make it happen again. I don’t remember precisely what I tried, but I tried everything I could think of and eventually decided they were just atmospheric additions to the main scene showing the [redacted]'s influence, but without any content beyond the overlay itself.

So you can say there were clues, but they failed for me. I’m willing to say that perhaps I’m just a wild outlier, but like I said, I didn’t rush through the game or brush it off. I played it and was engaged in it until I got an ending sequence (that’s not really an ending sequence? Different conversation…). Game Pass doesn’t tell me how long that was, but I’m guessing 5-6 hours? I was very aware that I had somehow missed content, but when frame-matching around through wine bottles and lamps and microphones stopped bringing me to any new clips, I had to let it go.

I admit that my experience clearly wasn’t typical, but a game’s player-base will have a lot of atypical players. Seems like the possibilities are that 1) I’m super-dense, 2) Barlow didn’t have enough playtesters, 3) Barlow had a few playtesters who had a similar issue and he ignored it or didn’t do enough to address it.

My experience leans more toward Nightgaunt’s, though I don’t really care to argue the point. I mean, I did end up finding the carefully hidden footage, though I think that’s at least partly because I was trying to reconcile what I was seeing (and not hearing) against other people’s experiences. Still curious where the whole thing is leading, and how this will end up ranking against Barlow’s other games.