Somehow, we’ve managed to make it to the end of 2022, so with that in mind, we’re celebrating some of the best games to have launched in the past 12 months. Today, we’re following Alice and tumbling down the rabbit hole in Immortality.
When you begin Half Mermaid’s Immortality, you are given a specific role to play: Handling the restoration of three previously lost films via the medium of a video game.
It’s a role that offers no personal backstory, and no rhyme or reason as to why you’d be doing it. That side of Immortality’s filmic puzzle is entirely on you. The common thread that runs through that experience is a feeling of uncovering something lost and mysterious. How deep is this particular rabbit hole? How far are you willing to dig? That’s the real story for the player, and its live-action nature ensures you feel like you’re right in the middle of bringing something lost back into the public eye, but you’re also unraveling a dormant tragedy that goes deeper than the restoration of three lost films.
The surface-level impetus is to learn more about an actress, Marissa Marcel. She only appeared in these three films over the space of several decades. Why were these films in particular lost? What happened to Marissa Marcel that she only made three films? The answer to one of those questions has answers you certainly wouldn’t expect.
To find those answers, there’s a bunch of disconnected clips to sift through. You can scrub back and forth through a clip at different speeds, and crucially, stop to click on points of interest. By clicking on certain people or objects in a scene, you are effectively warped into another seemingly unrelated scene with that person or a similar object in it. It’s a fun puzzle mechanic and before you know it, you’re collecting a greater knowledge of at least one of the three films, and if that was all there was to it, that’d still be a uniquely enjoyable puzzler, but along the way, strange things happen in certain clips.
Initially, it can be chalked up to scenes being out of context, sometimes even being unsure if they are behind-the-scenes footage or the actual film until scrubbing back to something you didn’t see. It starts to become more and more obvious there’s ghosts in the machine, reaching through the years to tell you the story behind the story. An unnerving surreal element emerges. This is where the David Lynch inspiration, with actual Lynch collaborators having worked on Immortality, burns brightest. Suddenly, you, the player, are being directly addressed. Immortality’s lost footage is now actively haunting you in order to scream its truths.
So you click and scrub your way through clip after clip, garnering more and more knowledge of the films, Marissa Marcel, and the otherworldly secrets that bind the two things. It becomes an obsession. You must see where this goes. You must be the one to reveal all. You too have been drawn in by the same alluring siren call as everyone else involved in these films.
The story of Marissa Marcel was supposed to be left behind, entombed in celluloid, but now, thanks to you, her tale lives again. But is that what she really wanted?
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