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Eternity - one of the best games of 2022 - is not exactly a game

Eternity – one of the best games of 2022 – is not exactly a game

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October 23, 2022, 1:00 PM


The definition of the interactive movie has been misclassified over the past few years, which is why players misunderstand its assumptions. But this time, she played a real interactive movie – The Rocks of Eternity.




Image source: Sony Interactive Entertainment / Half Mermaid

And the

What are you, immortality? This question ran through my mind during my eight hours of intense exposure to this title, which all of you probably don’t know, but sooner or later you should know, because it’s one of the best-rated games of the year by reviewers – in my personal ranking too high. The last time a similar “Rosekmina” accompanied me during the session Black Mirror: Bandersnatch On Netflix, a special episode of the well-known SF series, where it was possible, using the remote control or controller, to decide on the additional course of events.


On the one hand, we have an average game, because immortality By definition, the game is simply – it has a specific purpose and a set of rules, and is based on programming code. On the other hand, the medium of television or even film, because Bandersnatch However, it is meters of digital films that make up a scene of a cinematic nature. Although these works represent two different branches of pop culture, they have a lot in common. immortality It borrows from a different medium widely understood FILMITY, and Bandersnatch Introduces the game element to interact. This is how we arrive at a concrete, concrete wall. Because everything indicates that both of these works are interactive films. The problem, however, is that the concept of interactive film has been understated and watered down. The blame for such a situation lies with the press and press circles.

What is immortality?

immortality It is the latest game by Sam Barlow, an independent developer whose original works are known around the world primarily for using FMV (Full Motion Video) technology to build unconventional storylines and game mechanics. Just remember out loud her story, consisting of an investigative investigation, based primarily on the analysis of numerous recordings with the participation of the woman questioned. All of these conversations were, of course, filmed during the game’s production using strict cinematic tools with a camera up front.

immortality It further develops this concept, overcoming the size, quality and complexity of the game. This time we’re dealing with fictional movies within an interactive movie based on a game (yes, it doesn’t sound easy). The main character is an aspiring Hollywood actress who starred in three B-movies but very paradoxically, then disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Our job is… find them. Or rather, find the shot that explains the whole mysterious case.

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One of the best games of 2022 isn't exactly a game - Illustration #1

Immortality, Sam Barlow/Half Mermaid, 2022.

The player starts the game with one clip which is part of the actress’ performance on the American talk show. To get to know the story a little closer, click on any interactive part of the frame (recording can be paused, speeded up, or rewind), such as a character’s face or a prop, such as a kettle or a microphone. When we do, we will open the next snapshot, whatever thematically or symbolically related to the object we interacted with previously. Believe me, sometimes this leads to avant-garde and unexpected connections.


Most importantly, we don’t jump between the clicked videos in chronological order. After discovering the appropriate number, you can learn about the action one by one, but the whole plot is supposed to have a square structure, and the path to its exploration is to follow a discontinuous one. From all this chaos and heap of meanings, we try to piece together a meaningful story (this one is bravely hidden here, write colossally), discover its supernatural secrets (hidden mechanics will surprise you sometimes, twists will cool your blood), and finally find the actress. I would say that the viewer plays the role of the film editor, who received a lot of material for editing, but decides for himself how to arrange it. Freedom to work and learn about history in the first place here.

The means of communication generates the means

In addition to the illustrated menu and interface, everything is there immortality It was recorded, edited, sounded, and wrapped to look like a movie (and will last for hours). However, the aspect of discovering it yourself by clicking on the appropriate elements of the framework is completely interactive. Thus, it fulfills the assumptions of interactive film, which can be treated as a kind of two medium. It uses the game model of explicit interaction (that is, which involves direct contact of the recipient with the text of the culture using peripheral devices), and on the other hand, it is part of the Inspirational Tenth dynasty..

For it suffices to mention the famous photo galleries of the period 1910-1920, that is, short films (or still paintings) with animals, where spectators filmed for training or entertainment purposes with the use of firearms, or the miracle of the Czechoslovak New Wave in the form of Kinoautomat, is widely considered the first interactive movie in cinema history (presumably viewers voted to click buttons during the show, but it all led to the same ending anyway – Telltale loved it). Besides, I asked the author and creator immortalitySam Barlow on how to rank his game and gave me the following answer:

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think about immortality As a game, but this word can mean many things! For me, if there is no player immortality Not present, while the movie can be played in an empty cinema. The game requires the player to appear in it and search for it, and it varies by player. This element of interaction greatly affects the part of the written message. […]

I think it’s impossible for me not to think immortality In terms of ‘game’ or ‘interaction’ – I grew up with computers and my first stories were text adventures, some of my first works were done in turn in pixel art software, etc. This has shaped the way I think about things. I usually think mechanically. What would be true if I were making a movie and not a game, because I would be aware of its structure and the technical choices that were made – So there is a common area of ​​comparison here.

It all then comes down to the experience I want the player and the characters in my story to have. I want to bring these two aspects together, bring the heroes to life, and make the players feel something real. So even when I direct [fragmenty filmowe do swoich gier – dop. red.]I focus on these two elements.

So Barlow consciously uses cinematic tools and media, but he always thinks of it from a game perspective. Therefore, he is not afraid that the media will converge with himself in order to create an independent work.

Every movie is interactive!

It is interesting, not obvious, that film as a medium is interactive in nature. Do you know Newton’s third law of motion? Well, it can also be applied to cinematography. When a movie affects us, we influence it too. Does the movie show a touching scene? We, apart from sad crying, think about this scene intensely, there are active processes taking place in our heads. The phenomenon of interpretation, analysis, or combination of semantic metaphors are all actual activities that deny the negativity of the recipient. The viewer while watching stresses the brain cells, and this is enough to say that there is an interaction between it and the thing being watched, which is referred to professionally as cognitive interaction. Is literal and theoretical.

When interaction becomes too much

So it can be said that film was the first to use the form of interaction as we know it today to mechanically influence the consumer in the course of the narrative, and video games became an extension of this concept.It mainly depends on this interaction. And not always in the service of the plot, because that’s what it is bong if Super Mario Bros. They are production processes that depend mainly on the gameplay and the imposition of certain mechanisms. Interaction serving narrative development returned, first of all, in classic points, which later led to more emphasis on storytelling and less on solving puzzles like adventure games. the walking DeadAnd the life is strangeAnd the until dawn if Heavy rain.

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One of the best games of 2022 isn't exactly a game - Illustration #2

Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream, 2010.

All these titles definitely conquered the world, gaining many fans and critics’ appreciation from all over the world. However, for some reason, they have come to be referred to as interactive movies. The interactive movie suddenly became a subgenre of adventure games, where the plot took precedence over the gameplay, and the player had an influence on the course of events. The semantics of interactive film may be warranted, but it falls entirely outside the framework and definitions set over many decades. Because the interaction in this case is undeniable, but even the realistic graphics of Detroit: Be human It will not replace the film industry.

Perhaps if David Cage had not publicly chanted slogans about the fact that he dreamed of creating interactive cinematics (after the film industry painfully verified his “skill”), and if critics praising his products wouldn’t throw cheap slogans announcing that video games finally wouldn’t have What they shy away from when it comes to cinematography, we won’t get stuck in this defining quandary. Because this raises a problem. Not very important, but it still is.

Because if you call an interactive movie both Black Mirror: BandersnatchAnd the quarryAnd the Then: two souls And the immortalityI’m sorry, but I don’t understand some of the terminology frameworks or they are unfairly tailored to market needs. According to the proposed name – Movie and interaction means that a game or movie can be called an interactive movie, that is, a strange creation on the edge of two media. Bandersnatch It is an interactive movie within the movie, immortality It is an interactive movie within the game (and how perfect it is). However, if we were to call every narrative game devoid of complex mechanics and full gameplay an interactive movie, we would easily fall for it without a director. A more careful and thoughtful organization of the types and types of the world of culture will not change, but will certainly help to understand it more accurately.