IMMORTALITY Review – A Mystery in a Thousand Pieces

Developed by Sam Barlow, Half Mermaid

Published by Half Mermaid

MSRP: $19.99

Available on PC

IMMORTALITY follows the career of fictional actress Marissa Marcel. She starred in three movies between the late sixties to the late nineties. None of these ever released, though. But you’ve found them, somehow. You’ve also located several interviews and behind-the-scenes moments. By poring over these films – sometimes frame by frame – perhaps you’ll figure out what happened to the actress. She disappeared soon after her last movie. The answer seems to be amongst these varied shots and behind-the-scenes looks, but you’ll have to be an effective detective and movie editor to find it.

The game starts you off with a single interview that Marcel did. It doesn’t seem like much to go on, but you can explore the video in several different ways. You can sit and watch the show through from beginning to end, looking for any clues or items of interest that might hint at Marcel’s fate. You’re able to fast forward or rewind the interview at various speeds, as well as watch it frame by frame. You might not get much from this single video, though (or maybe something will click that makes a lot of things make sense). And will probably wonder where the rest of the movies are.

To get to somewhere else, you need to stop the video and find some element to click on. IMMORTALITY lets you warp to other films, clips, or interviews by clicking on the actors’ faces. Or on props. Or on background elements. There are often several different things in any given scene that you can touch to take yourself to a whole new piece of footage. These warps can be jarring, shifting you ahead by decades. Watching the actors age and change in a blink is disorienting and a bit unsettling. Seeing their shifts in attitudes can have a similar effect. These rapid changes often leave you asking questions about what happened in the years (or minutes) between each shot.

To find out more, though, you’ll have to keep clicking around. Maybe you’ll choose to click on the same actor throughout every scene you notice them in, trying to figure out what they do over the years. In doing so, you’ll tend to flesh out their career and their relationship with Marcel. However, these jumps rarely follow a set order, taking you forward and back through various times in their lives. It’s dizzying at first, but in much the same way that a massive jigsaw puzzle is a lot to take in at first. You have everything you need to solve the puzzle right in front of you. You just have to look at each piece and find its place in reality and in your mind.

IMMORTALITY is not here to tell you if you’ve put that piece in the right place or not. There’s nothing that indicates that you’re clicking things the ‘right’ way. It’s you who’ll want to take notes and see if you can find a link between the shots. You’ll have to do some genuine detective work to find out how these pieces all come together, and what (you think) is happening. It, again, can feel overwhelming at first. There’s so many directions to take and possible outcomes. But as you watch the varied clips, you’re given enough information that you can make conclusions about what you’re seeing.

It’s this personal, realistic detective work and analysis that makes the game feel so captivating. It can feel directionless at first as you poke around, but you quickly start to find what works. Maybe you follow a prop around between scenes and it leads you to some surreal moment. Something seems off about a given clip and you slow it down to look into what’s happening. It’s not like most other mystery games where the game remarks that something is strange. You don’t get some notification about finding a clue. You simply find things that catch your eye. Things that make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Then, YOU decide if it’s worth following up.

IMMORTALITY reminds me of Return of the Obra Dinn in that regard. I like playing puzzle games and detective games, but these titles often make it very clear when you get something right. Obra Dinn did as well, but you still had to decide how you wanted to investigate things. You also had to get multiple details right before the game would tell you that you were correct. IMMORTALITY gives you that same kind of freedom to investigate and form your own connections, and is just as compelling as it allows you to make your own conclusions without much prompting. Unlike Obra Dinn, it will never tell you if you’re right, though.

That might seem daunting. Not having any indicator that you’re correct? How do you even progress? How do you know if you’re progressing? As you start finding clues and coming to conclusions, you’ll find that you don’t need these things. You’ll find evidence that backs up your claims, and you’ll be able to present the case to yourself (and others who’ve played the game). It feels exhilarating to piece together this mystery all on your own as you shift through scenes and choose your own path through the narrative.


This is the best part IMMORTALITY, and what makes it an incredibly impressive mystery game. You will never, ever get a clear answer about what happened. Like most true mysteries, you never fully know what happened. You weren’t there. You didn’t see it all happen. The truth likely died with several people. All you can do is decide what the evidence tells you. I have a very clear idea of what happened in this game, but like a real mystery, I will never know for sure what went down. Which leaves this tiny bit of unnerving doubt that I understood it at all. There’s a lot that can slip by you between the frames of a film, after all. What dark things did I miss in my search?

IMMORTALITY is an impressive achievement in mystery games. While other titles eventually tip their hands and tell you that you’ve found the truth, this one never does. You can use tools to speed through the films, skip around, or peer into them frame-by-frame, but you’ll never know if you found every clip. Never be sure that you saw everything, or understood it all. All you can do is watch each clip over and over again, shifting through eras as you pore over Marcel’s life in search of an answer. That you’ll likely never know for sure is deeply chilling, and makes for a mystery that will play in your head for years after you’ve finished playing the game.