Happy Wednesday, everyone! It’s just me (Tom) this week. Both of my fellow Average Joes have been occupied with matters far more important than video games recently, so it’s just as well that I’ve been playing two, isn’t it? Here’s what I’ve been playing this week.
Playing via Xbox Cloud Gaming
I’m convinced that Immortality was made just for me, so much so that it almost feels like some kind of trap. I’m a movie lover, but perhaps more than that, I’m a lover of film production stories. The people who make movies – and how and why they make them – have always fascinated me. Immortality is a game about that very subject, so it should come as no surprise that I adore it.
The game presents itself as a fact-finding mission. Actress Marissa Marcel starred in three movies across 30 years – a Giallo-esque Gothic horror, an erotic cop noir, a schlocky 90s thriller – before mysteriously vanishing, never to be seen again. You’re tasked with sifting through archival footage from these films, none of which were released, and figuring out what happened to her.
Immortality only gives you a small amount of clips to begin with, but the more you investigate, the more footage you uncover. Clicking on something in a frame – a face, an object, a kiss – will transport you to a similar element in a new clip. Slowly, you build up a bank of footage that raises as many questions as it answers. The moments before ‘Action’ and after ‘Cut’, rehearsal footage, interviews, home movies; all of these clips give you amazing insight into Marissa and her complex relationships with other cast and crew members.
It must be said that the fake films themselves are incredibly well-executed. They nail the evolving filmmaking styles and techniques across the decades, with period-accurate aspect ratios and special effects. Actress Ganon Mage is an absolute revelation as Marissa Marcel; she’s tasked with not only playing Marissa herself, but also a different character in each film. Sometimes multiple characters! Mage handles this challenge effortlessly, and it’s downright stunning that Immortality was apparently her very first job out of drama school.
The rest of the cast are fantastic, but Mage’s work is equalled only by one other stand-out performer. However, to say too much about them would spoil the hidden, sinister secrets within Immortality, which you should really discover for yourself. This is the best game I’ve played in a long time, and I urge you to check it out.
Trover Saves the Universe
Playing on Meta Quest 2
I’ve also been messing around with Trover Saves the Universe, a VR game from Rick & Morty creator Justin Roiland’s Squanch Games studio. As you might expect from Roiland, it’s a madcap sci-fi journey with plenty of laughs in store.
What does make Trover unique, though, is its perspective. Most VR games are first-person, meaning that you see through the character’s eyes. While you do see through the eyes of a nameless Chairorpian (a race of sedentary beings), you’re actually controlling a purple monster named Trover. Your Chairorpian possesses a game controller that can common Trover to run, jump, and slash a sword, and you’re tasked with guiding him through several wacky alien worlds.
Trover‘s hack and slash combat and light puzzles are nothing special; in fact, they’re pretty mediocre. What sets the game apart, though, is this strange second-person perspective. Rather than being in the midst of the action yourself, as with most VR games, you instead serve almost as a camera operator. You can raise your chair and tilt your head to see how best to help Trover make a difficult jump, or spot enemies before they can harm him. I’m having a really good time with this mechanic; the sensation of controlling a character entirely separately to the camera is somewhat discombobulating but always enjoyable.
If you’re familiar with Roiland’s TV work, you’ve already got a good sense of Trover‘s sense of humour and know whether it’s your thing or not. I still enjoy Rick & Morty despite its legitimately awful fanbase. However, I will say that this game presents an excellent argument for liming the amount of swearing that comedy writers can use I’m no prude; in a vacuum, swearing doesn’t bother me at all. Unfortunately, Trover often obscures otherwise good jokes with ten consecutive F-bombs, which quickly grows tiresome.
Trover Saves the Universe is by no means a groundbreaking game, but its humour and charms, such as they are, are quite entertaining. Its novel approach to perspective demonstrates the possibilities for VR games beyond the obvious, and for that reason alone, it’s worth playing.