You Can (Not) Die
Mortality might seem like a strange framework to keep putting games in this year, but it all started coming together for me because of Immortality. It’s a game hidden as a DVD menu archive, a tribute to manipulating and exploring media and creating theories for yourself while very rarely getting them spelled out in the game. While XBC3 is often quite detailed in its explanations of what is going on, Immortality leaves it up to you to decide a lot of the time.
A year or so from now, I can’t wait to talk about it more openly with people, find out what they thought happened, but I don’t want to write about it here because so much of the game is the discovery of what is there that I wouldn’t want to ruin any of it for you. The game exists as a commentary on the immortality of people in media (in the game, specifically immortality in film, but it’s easy enough to expand that outward) and has so much to say there that it sparks conversation pretty quickly. Can actors die? There’s room for debate.
What the game also ended up reminding me of is the joy of sharing a game with someone else. I spent a few evenings in a row sitting in my living room, passing the controller between my wife and I as we kept digging further and further into the whole thing, taking notes, trying to find even more. When we weren’t playing, we were texting thoughts and theories to each other at work. The communal experience of discovery, even at such a small scale, was perfect (something that ties this game, funny enough, to Elden Ring, where the community doing the discovery was much larger). Even months after playing, we still talk about ideas about this game.
Note: Immortality is a work of horror about a woman making movies in the 70s and 90s, so there are numerous content warnings that come with that. It should also be said that the content is not used luridly, and is well considered for the story at hand, but it could still be rough for people.
The game does an amazing job of recreating the feel of older footage from the 1970s and 90s. The team that did this handled it so well that it’s perfectly believable that you are digging through footage of a barely remembered actress in an attempt to figure her life out. The credits to the game list of which cameras were used, a detail that speaks to how focused the team was on perfecting this weird little simulacrum.
Immortality was the 2022 game that made not being able to die a terrifying thought.
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