What happened to Marissa Marcel? This question has been haunting me ever since I started playing Immortality, the new game from Sam Barlow, the creator of Telling Lies (which I told you about in an old column). This time he puts us at the controls of the cutter with a cinephile treasure in his hands: all the newly discovered clips from three unique films starring Marissa Marcel.
Why “discoveries”? Because none of these three films have ever been edited or shown in theaters. The first, “Ambrosio” (filmed in 1968), was supposed to make Marissa Marcel, a promising young actress chosen from thousands of applicants, a real star. But he never came out. The second, “Minsky”, filmed two years later under the direction of John Durick, was never completed.
Nearly 30 years later, Marissa Marcel reappeared in 1999 to direct the final film with John Durick, All for Two. But the director is dead, the film is abandoned, and Marissa has once again vanished into the vicissitudes of cinematic history.
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As for you, you now have the slightest appearance of an actress in front of the camera. Restoration work and your investigation can begin.
More than an intriguing concept
Immortality is one of those games where you don’t really know where you’re stepping. The starting principle is extremely simple: you start your quest by watching a scene from one of the three films (or related to one of those films, since you also have cut or omitted scenes, rehearsals or interviews around the films). Then, by clicking on an object, a face, a decorative element, you get to another scene where it appears.
Which inevitably leads to a somewhat chaotic path, with a route that will be truly unique for each player. You might as well see a harmless (at least on the surface) movie scene as an intimate moment where the actress is talking, not one of her characters.
It may be completely incoherent, but the game manages to maintain an amazing coherence despite your total freedom, and completely, sometimes even brutally, immerse you in the very heart of the mystery. You have to find the pieces of the puzzle and put them together.
An experience that can be recommended to all movie lovers
Anyone who’s ever seen the Mortal Kombat or Resident Evil movies knows that the relationship between cinema and video games… It’s complicated. But Sam Barlow is a special case: his whole game radiates love for the 7th art, for who does it and how. The actors are great, especially the one who plays Marissa Marcel, whose multifaceted performance is breathtaking. But it’s also entirely a video game that even offers a purely video game twist halfway through to turn your brain upside down.
So what happened to Marissa Marcel? The answer is there, buried deep and within easy reach. But what makes Immortality a masterpiece is the whirlwind of other questions that attack us on the path to truth. We come out a little dazed but amazed.
🎮 IMMORTALITY – Available on PC, Mac and Xbox.
Thanks to Julien Baldacchino, Lorelei Currive, Laetitia Gaye and Victor Wasser for the voice acting.