Everyone with a Netflix account can play one of 2022's best-rated games for free
Netflix is known for its movie content, sure – but have you ever played a game that’s secretly three movies threaded together?
There has never been anything quite like Immortality before. From the unique mind of Sam Barlow and his studio, Half Mermaid, this curious interactive experiment blurs the line between cinema and gaming in a way that nothing else before it has quite managed. Somehow, it’s three films stacked on top of each other, all broken apart and complemented with behind-the-scenes footage and snippets of the film-making process that end up on the cutting room floor.
At the heart of this knotty web of intrigue is a chilling and compelling mystery. It’s all delicately constructed and expertly woven around a reflection on the nature of fame, and a damning indictment of the broken dynamics between men in power and women with talent – and what all of that means in the golden age of Hollywood and beyond.
It can be almost overwhelming when you begin; it’s how I imagine Peter Jackson felt when he set about thumbing through thousands of hours of Beatles footage in order to assemble the phenomenal Get Back. You’re placed into a position of great privilege; thrown into an archive of clips, rushes, and not-for-public-consumption footage of actress Marissa Marcel, and tasked with making sense of it all. Somewhere, within in all this footage, there’s a whisper of what happened to her – an answer about why she disappeared, why none of her films ever made it to release, and what was going on in her doomed career.
There are not a lot of games you can compare it to. Immortality siezes the unique format of interactive media and runs with it. Real-life footage (now a staple in Barlow’s games, who wields the use of it adeptly) can be stopped, frozen, interrogated. Freeze a frame, zoom in, and notice something specific – maybe the director’s slate – and select it. Suddenly, you’re transported through time and space to peek out the lens of another camera, looking onto that same slate in another era. Are the same people here? Did someone move the item intentionally? Is it coincidence it’s cropped up in Marcel’s life yet again?
The whole game is pieced together like a symphony – every clip, in itself, is scripted phenomenally well, and acted with subtlety and artisanal skill by actress Manon Gage, and you can tell there’s a lot of her in this character. Scaffolded and structured by the impossible script, Barlow handles every aspect of this interactive, multi-layered and multi-faceted project like he was born to do it. As you get tangled and embroiled in Immortality’s inescapable web, you can just picture Barlow smirking in your mind’s eye, knowing you’re edging closer to the dark heart of the piece, and constricting yourself ever more tightly as you do.
Immortality is an essential play for anyone curious about what games can do when they pursue a non-standard format. Immortality is an unforgettable experience for anyone that loves the silver screen. Immortality is a vital message for men that have never considered how media exploits women. Our Immortality review called it breath-taking, haunting, detailed. It’s won multiple awards – including BAFTAs – for innovation, for Gage’s performance, for narrative. The fact you can play it for no extra cost as part of your Netflix subscription makes it as essential as Squid Game, Stranger Things, Nobody, Knives Out, BoJack Horseman, or The Crown.
A little while back, I wrote about how (almost) no-one is playing Netflix’s games. At the most recent count, that means that well over 200 million people are not accessing and using the incredible library of amazing games that’s available at their fingertips. In drawing attention to titles like Immortality, Into the Breach, Terra Nil, and other exemplary titles, I hope to ensure this complimentary service remains for years and years.
Because – as well as curating a very well put-together list of titles – Netflix has big plans to move into gaming. Later this year, we’ve got Oxenfree 2 coming to Netflix day-and-date. It already looks amazing, and as a sequel to one of the best story-driven adventure games of recent years, there’s a lot riding on this game. It’ll act as a lightning rod for what Netflix can do within its own studios in the years to come.
For now, though, I can’t encourage you to download and play Immortality enough. It’s three films for the price of none, and delivers an introspective unlike any you’ll have experienced before – whether you’re a seasoned gamer or not.