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I can’t stop thinking about Immortality, 2022’s most ambitious game

There are plenty of games coming out this summer that are worth getting excited about. RPG fans will have their hands full with Soul Hackers 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Saints Row will look to hold Grand Theft Auto fans over as they continue to wait for its far-off sixth installment. And of course, Stray is looking to melt hearts with its cat-centric gameplay.

Immortality trailer (PC Gaming Show 2022)

The most exciting game of the summer, though, is one you may not have heard of yet. Immortality is the latest project by Half Mermaid Productions and Her Story director Sam Barlow. Like Barlow’s previous works, it’s a narrative game where players scour a database of full-motion video (FMV) clips to solve a mystery. The difference is that players aren’t looking through police interviews and surveillance footage; they’re diving into lost movie footage that spans decades.

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Based on a demo I played at Tribeca Fest, Immortality is not only shaping up to be Barlow’s most ambitious work to date, but perhaps the most impressive FMV projects ever. It’s a staggering interactive experience that I can’t stop thinking about days after playing it.

Match cut

Immortality centers around Marissa Marcel, an actress who has mysteriously vanished. Marcel had three starring roles to her name between 1968 and 1999, but none of those films saw the light of day. The game gives players access to a wealth of footage, from dailies to rehearsal clips to filmed table script reads, which they can scrub through to try and find clues about her disappearance.

A slate for Minsky appears in Immortality.

It’s much more subtle than something like Her Story. In that game, players looked through police interviews with a murder suspect to solve a criminal case. All the dialogue directly pertained to the investigation, so it was easy to piece together. Immortality requires a much sharper eye. Players need to separate moments of filmed fiction from on-set reality. One-off lines and simple body language become major clues.

In one clip, I catch two actors smooching on the set after the director has called cut. Soon, I’m in a rabbit hole trying to figure out who the mystery man is and where else he shows up in Marcel’s life. Was he present at any table reads? Did he say anything suspicious while on the set? Is there a double meaning behind some of his scripted lines or am I just reading too deep into it? There’s a lot more brainwork involved than simply listening for important lines.

Because of that, Immortality features a much different gameplay setup than Barlow’s previous titles. Rather than typing in keywords to discover new footage, players click on footage itself. Tap a script sitting on a table and you’ll jump over to another clip where that script appears on-screen. That goes for people too, as players can click on an actor’s face and seamlessly swap to another clip via a “match cut.”

Clips from Ambrosio appear in Immortality.

It’s much easier to get lost in Immortality than, say, Telling Lies, another Barlow game. I found myself hopping between clips at a quick pace without fully watching each, likely missing important details. While it’s a little overwhelming at times, the game fortunately makes an effort to organize clips for players by laying out discovered footage in a handy timeline. Within 30 minutes, I’d discovered nearly two-dozen video clips all packed with nuances worth studying.

Movie magic

I can’t overstate how mind-bogglingly ambitious the project is. Half Mermaid has essentially created three fictional films, all of which are period pieces. Take the 1968 section of the game, for instance, which revolves around a gothic film called Ambrosio. During my demo, I saw scenes from the fictional film itself, which are a dead ringer for a 1960s historical drama. But that level of detail has to be reflected in the behind-the-scenes clips and supplemental footage too. Later, I find a late-night talk show interview from the time, which looks just like an episode of Johnny Carson’s run on The Tonight Show.

It’s an impressive trick, but a functional one too. It creates a visual literacy in a game that revolves around a complicated timeline of events. I can always tell the year by examining the quality of the footage or the haircuts (one casual behind-the-scenes clip features some unmistakably ,70s hairdos). That lets me more fluidly investigate clips without stopping to check the timeline.

A scene from the fictional film Ambrosio appears in Immortality.

Part of me wishes I hadn’t played Immortality, simply because I can’t get it out of my head. I only scratched the surface of Marcel’s story during my 30 minutes with the game, but it continues to haunt me. I’m replaying scenes in my head, trying to connect the dots despite only having a few to work with. If the final game is as mystifying as that, I imagine it’ll find itself high on my game of the year list come December.

Immortality launches on July 26 for PC and Xbox Series X/S, with more platforms to be announced. It’ll be available on Xbox Game Pass at launch.

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Everything announced at Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase 2022
A screen capture from the Redfall gameplay reveal.

Following a shockingly good State of Play and an underwhelming Summer Game Fest Kickoff, it was Microsoft's turn to enter the spotlight and highlight the games coming to Xbox platforms and services. Namely, we saw Starfield in action even though it was delayed until 2023, and we got a better idea of what games are coming to Xbox Game Pass over the next 12 months. 
This was a significant showcase for Microsoft, which needed to confirm what it had in store for this year and what new games are on the horizon. While there were plenty of exciting new gameplay trailers and game announcements, nothing quite blew us away. Still, the presentation painted an extremely clear picture of what Xbox players can expect between now and June 2023. This is everything that was announced at the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase 2022. 
Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase 2022
Redfall gameplay shows what Arkane's vampire shooter is all about
Redfall - Official Gameplay Reveal - Coming to Game Pass - Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase 2022
The show opened with our first look at gameplay for Redfall, an upcoming cooperative shooter about vampires from Arkane Austin. It initially leans quite hard into the horror aspects of the game before transitioning into showing bombastic shooting action, each character's abilities, and more. Redfall will be released in 2023.
Forza Motorsport will actually release in spring 2023
Forza Motorsport - Official Trailer - Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase 2022
We finally got another look at Turn 10's Forza Motorsport for Xbox Series X, with a focus on its gameplay, lighting, and dynamic time of day system, and more. While many assumed that the beautiful racing game would launch later this year, it's actually not coming out until spring 2023. 
Grand strategy game Ara: History Untold announced by Xbox Game Studios
Ara: History Untold - Announce Trailer - Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase 2022
Oxide Games and Xbox Game Studios Publishing revealed a brand-new historical turn-based grand strategy game called Ara: History Untold. It was one of the few trailers without any gameplay, but it teases a game that will encompass centuries of history and lots of cultures. It doesn't have a release date, but we know it's coming to PC and Game Pass, and players can sign up for the history program.
Minecraft enters the strategy genre with Minecraft Legends
Minecraft Legends – Announce Trailer - Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase 2022
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As Dusk Falls and Pentiment flesh out Microsoft's 2022 lineup
Pentiment – Official Announce Trailer - Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase 2022
We got another look at As Dusk Falls, a narrative-focused game with a motion comic-like art style. The new trailer gave us a better look at the story and confirmed a July 19 release date. We also learned that a new narrative RPG from Obsidian Entertainment called Pentiment launches later this year. These games help flesh out Microsoft's paltry 2022 lineup in the wake of Starfield's delay. 
Hideo Kojima reveals Xbox Game Studios partnership
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During a segment focused on Japanese games, Hideo Kojima stopped by the showcase to confirm Kojima Productions' rumored partnership with Xbox Game Studios. He didn't actually show his game, which is rumored to be called Overdose, but this is a disruptive announcement for players who associate Kojima with PlayStation because of Metal Gear Solid and Death Stranding.
Starfield gameplay reveal shows what Bethesda's next RPG is really like
Starfield: Official Gameplay Reveal
As expected, we got an extended look at Starfield's gameplay in action during the showcase. We see a player explore the moon of Kreet in the year 2330 in first-person. They scan and encounter the local fauna, wildlife, and minerals before fighting some pirates, with shooting gameplay much more intense than anything Bethesda Game Studios has done before. They then go to the city of New Atlantis and see some of the game's conversations in action. Todd Howard then showed us an early look at the game's immensely detailed character customization, skill system, ship and crew customization, flying, and vast galaxy. Starfield will be released in 2023.
Everything else: 

Hollow Knight: Silksong got a new trailer and is coming to Xbox Game Pass on day one. 
Squanch Games' Justin Roiland revealed his new game, High On Life, which releases in October 2022 and will be on Xbox Game Pass on day one. 
Riot Games is bringing League of Legends, Wild Rift, Valorant, Legends of Runetrra, and Teamfight Tactics bonuses to Xbox Game Pass members on PC. 
A Plague Tale: Requiem got a gameplay trailer and will launch on day one with Xbox Game Pass.
Microsoft Flight Simulator is getting helicopters and other new aircraft in November 2022 to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Halo Infinite's Pelican was added to the game today. 
Overwatch 2's multiplayer early access launches on October 4, 2022, and will be free-to-play. A new hero was also teased. 
The Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle got a new trailer. 
Fallout 76: The Pitt got a new trailer and September 2022 release window. 
Forza Horizon 5 will get Hot Wheels-themed DLC on July 19.
Ark 2 got a new trailer starring Vin Diesel and a 2023 release window. 
Scorn got a new trailer confirming an October 21 release date. It will be on Xbox Game Pass on day one.
Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn got a gameplay trailer and early 2023 release window. It will launch day one on Xbox Game Pass. 
Lightyear: Frontier got a new trailer and spring 2023 release window. It launches day one with Xbox Game Pass.
Cat-themed roguelike action game Gunfire Reborn got an October 2022 release window. It launches day one with Xbox Game Pass.
The Last Case of Benedict Fox was revealed as a day one Xbox Game Pass title that will release in spring 2023.
Naraka Bladepoint comes to Xbox consoles and Game Pass on June 23.
Grounded gets its 1.0 launch in September 2022. 
Ereban: Shadow Legacy was announced and will come to Xbox Game Pass in 2023. 
Diablo IV got a new trailer revealing the Necromancer class. Also, PC and Xbox crossplay was confirmed, PvP and endgame content was teased, and a 2023 release was confirmed. 
Sea of Thieves is getting a new update that lets players customize their cabin, name their ships, and more on July 21.
The developers of Echo Generation revealed a new fantasy game called Ravenlok, which launches on Xbox Game Pass in 2023. 
One of the creators of Limbo announced Cocoon, which comes to Xbox Game Pass in 2023.
Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo teased a new IP, Wo Long: Fallen Destiny, which will release in early 2023 on Xbox Game Pass.
Persona 3, 4, and 5 are coming to Game Pass. Persona 5 will be added on October 21, while Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden are coming after that.

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